Honestly? I didn’t want to deal with this chapter. I suppose it’s not really any worse than the other chapters, but it’s kind of short (only two and a half pages) and stupid. I was debating combining it with the next chapter, but the next chapter is actually fairly long and I’ll spend quite a bit of time talking about it, so I guess I’ll just get this little bugger over with.
So where are we now?
Biowaste storage facility, Grigori Laboratories, Ekaterinburg, Russia
The… Grigoris have evil laboratories? Um… okay? Is there like a giant building with “Grigori” in big letters on the side? Or is it like an underground bunker? I don’t know.
Also, what would the Grigoris be doing in this lab? I mean, I know what they’re doing right now—they’re holding Evangeline captive and experimenting on her. But what do they usually do when there’s not a main character? Do they do Nephilim medicine? Special weapons? Technology that makes it harder for angel hunters to get them?
Or do they just have a laboratory to do generic mad science in?
I would criticize that, but honestly I’d do the same thing with a science lab.
Oh right. Evangeline’s in this chapter. Turns out she’s been captured and she’s strapped down to a table or something (actually it doesn’t specify what kind of surface she’s strapped to in the first paragraph—just that she can’t move).
Evangeline arched her back until the thick straps of leather tightened over her chest. She tried to move her legs, but they, too, were strapped down.
…the message of those two sentences could easily have been condensed into one. And I feel as if that second sentence has too many commas.
Her memory held shapes she couldn’t decipher—forms of sensation that she felt but could not identify well enough to name: the whine of a jet engine; the prick of a needle; the cinching of buckles against her skin. Making out the sterile wash of white paint on concrete, she guessed that she was in a hospital or, perhaps, a prison.
…Trussoni, what is it with you and those commas? Because the same type of thing happened in that last sentence there too. We’re still in the same paragraph.
The point of this paragraph could be summed up pretty quickly: she’s waking up and trying to remember what the heck just happened. I imagine it’s something like a really bad hangover, but as I don’t know what that feels like I really wouldn’t know.
Now what would be really interesting was if she didn’t remember anything of the story so far at all, and then the Grigoris came in and basically filled her in on their version of events, thus ensuring her loyalty and making her a sleeper agent by having her become friendly with Verlaine again.
But that won’t happen because A) it’d be interesting and B) it’d be a rip-off of season five of Chuck. But seriously, this book could have been an awesome spy drama with angels, but instead it’s… this.
So she remembers what happened immediately.
The noise suddenly ceased and, as if a door had opened in her mind, memories rushed into her consciousness. She remembered the rooftop, the black-winged angel, the duel. She remembered the fleeting freedom, that brief but exhilarating buoyancy she’d felt before her surrender. She remembered Verlaine standing nearby, helpless. She remembered what it had felt like to be touched by him. She remembered the heat of his skin against hers as she ran his finger along her cheek, and the shiver that went through her as he touched the delicate skin that joined her wings to her back.
Okay, I’ll admit that I’m kind of a prude, but seriously, look at it! It goes from a memory about a fight to what sounds like a sex scene. Which is weird, because that’s definitely not what happened. The two of them didn’t even kiss! But still we’re bringing up “the heat of his skin against hers as she ran his finger along her cheek, and the shiver that went through her”.
It’s as if in writing the book, Trussoni was desperately trying to make it sexy but didn’t know how. So we’ll get Evangeline’s romantic thoughts and feelings about Verlaine while she’s strapped to a table about to be tortured/experimented on for mad science!
I’m starting to think Epke was right about the rape fantasies thing…
Can we talk about something else? More exposition of things more interesting than the plot, perhaps?
And then her thoughts were driven even further back to the only time in her life that she had felt as frightened as she did now. It was 1999, New Year’s Eve in New York City. While the rest of the world celebrated the coming of the new millennium, Evangeline was caught in her own private apocalypse. She found a park bench and sat in Central Park, too stunned to move, watching the crowds passing by. The angelic creatures had blended into the poluation with such skill that—despite the eerie colored light that surrounded them—they appeared to be entirely human. Some of the Nephilim paused, noticing her, recognizing her as one of their own, and Evangeline felt her whole being recoil. It was impossible that she was one of them. Yet she was no longer human.
She was a monster, the very creature her parents had worked to destroy.
Holy crap, that sounds like an epic story! Can you imagine that—finding out you’re the very thing your parents and their friends and co-workers were trying to wipe off the face of the planet? That suddenly, you find out that you’re not human, and as far as you know all the others of your kind are Always Chaotic Evil?
I mean, I think it’s a bit unlikely that none of those Nephilim that walked up to her and recognized her as a Nephil were willing to help her out. I refuse to believe that they’re all completely unredeemably evil. And even if they were, why wouldn’t they help her? They’d assume she was like them. So I think that a cool story would be Evangline falling in with a bunch of misfit angels that rebel against the Grigori regime while dealing with her unresolved feelings for an angel hunter (Verlaine) working for an organization that doesn’t distinguish good and bad Nephilim and wants them all dead.
Or we don’t have to do that at all. We could go with the “Always Chaotic Evil Nephilim” thing if you insist. It could be Evangeline in a world full of hostile Nephilim having to dodge them and not get caught by the Grigoris. Not being able to trust anyone, or stay in any place for a long period of time, or having sufficient funds to even hold property. It’d be awesome!
There are good ideas in this book, I’m telling you. It’s just pushed aside for the stupid. So instead we get the actual plot, with its pseudo-romantic nonsense and Verlaine’s manpain.
The character who has the most potential for this story? Yeah, she’s benched for most of this story.
I’m beginning to wonder who exactly has reading this book. Because there’s a bunch of quotes of praise on the covers and first couple of pages. I get if you like this book, sure. I liked Eragon just fine. Doesn’t make it good. So where did all this praise come from?
Her wings were open and pressed flat against the table. She could feel them against her skin, as soft as sheets of silk. She knew that if she could move her wings, the straps would loosen, giving just enough for her to slip free. But as she twisted, a biting pain stopped her cold: She had been pinned to the table. The nails ripped into the skin of her wings.
Waitwaitwait—how is that possible? Because yeah, in the last book you established that the wings were solid material that can sometimes conveniently ghost through clothing or something, but in this book it sounded like it was retconned by… this:
…he knew that if he were to touch them, his hand would pass through as if skimming through a projection of light.
That’s from chapter seven, where Verlaine is talking about Eno’s wings. Go back in the sporking and look if you don’t believe me. So are the pins holding down her wings made from Nth metal or Celestial bronze or something? Are the needles magic’d? I don’t know! Are these wings intangible or not????
I get that in fantasy, you don’t have to explain everything. Lots of people on the Internet and in writing classes will pound into your head that you need strict rules for a supernatural setting. I don’t think all those rules are bad necessarily, but I don’t think it needs to be the case. Hellboy (the comics) has a lot of supernatural stuff happen without much explanation of how it precisely works, but it still works because it still remains mostly consistent. Also there’s an evil dragon thing from beyond the void of time and space trying to destroy the universe, and one you have one of those, all bets are off.
This? I have no idea what the rules are, or if there are any. So… how do angel wings work? Can someone in this story please tell me? Because it seems to be implied by a lot of statements, but they all seem to contradict each other.
So Evangeline overhears two mad scientists talking and they mention a name: Godwin. This freaks her out.
She recognized the name Godwin. She knew it from her childhood. If Godwin was behind this, she knew she was in terrible danger. It would be better to tear off her own wings than to be subject to his will.
Okay, this is interesting, as Evangeline basically said she’d rather die than be experimented on by Godwin (because last book established that ripping off wings of angels makes them bleed to death; though that’s assuming that rule stayed the same). And while this isn’t bad writing, once again I’m disappointed because Trussoni is letting us learn about a character through narration rather than showing us. Granted, in this instance it’s vaguer, so it’s better. It builds suspense, and readers start filling in their own blanks. So Trussoni’s getting a bit better.
Still, it’s frustrating, because at the end of the day, nothing is accomplished by this chapter. Evangeline wakes up captured, hears about Godwin, and freaks out. The last thing is her trying to stay awake as the mad scientist nurse injects her with a needle. We don’t meet Godwin, we don’t learn more about the plot, and we only get the glimmer of interesting characterization from Evangeline while she’s benched to be a damsel in distress for the book.
The most powerful major character is the damsel in distress.
Next time on the Angelopolis Spork: nearly twenty pages of the angelologists getting through exposition!