You see, I liked Evangeline as a protagonist in the last book. I guess she shared the spotlight with Verlaine, Percival and her grandmother, but… it was sort of her story, y’know? And though I thought she was dumb sometimes, she was likable enough. She’s still likable enough! Why couldn’t we stick with her as protagonist?
Verlaine is an idiot. I don’t mean that as an insult, I am making a statement of fact. He’s an awful protagonist. Trussoni, through Bruno and Vera, has done her best to convince us he’s a badass angel hunter who can overcome any obstacle by sheer force of will. Yet every time we see him in a struggle, he fails, mostly on account of his own stupidity and incompetence, even compared to other angelololologists. Somehow or another though, we’re supposed to care he’s still breathing. Well guess what? I don’t. But we’re almost at the end, so we’ll power through this.
Verlaine had waited long enough; he couldn’t listen to any more talking. Bruno had his method—he would gather information, divide the hunt, and move out with a deliberate plan of attack—but Verlaine couldn’t follow him now. Evangeline was here, somewhere, and there was nothing on earth
AVE MARIA THE WORD ‘EARTH’ SHOULD BE CAPITALIZED YOU—
Sorry, carry on?
that would keep him from finding her. Tagging along behind Bruno wasn’t going to happen. His time for simply taking orders was over. He was going after Evangeline alone.
Want to guess what’s wrong with this passage? Go ahead. I’ll give you a minute.
If you said, “Telling instead of showing again!” you get a cookie! Once again, Trussoni is telling us how these characters act, and imply that Verlaine is done with being all prim and proper and following the angelologit rules. Here’s the problem though: Verlaine has never done any of the things mentioned above. The very first bit of the book, he wanders off by himself through Paris without notifying his supervisor Bruno, and admits that it was against regulation. He meets with Evangeline and follows her without notifying Bruno. He attacks Eno by himself without waiting for backup in Russia, against Bruno’s advice. He goes after the twins in the train alone and injured, only to get captured and tied to a frozen moving train car. Every single time he’s bailed out by Bruno.
Verlaine has never followed the rules. And it always leads to some situation where he’s in trouble and has to be bailed out. By Bruno, who is not precisely the sharpest tool in the kit. Bruno, by all reasonable estimates, should not be letting Verlaine out in the field.
Verlaine “slipped on the security guard’s jacket” and walks out of Dmitri’s office so he can find Evangeline. Here’s the thing though; he wasn’t in there alone. We know this from the last chapter. Yana, Bruno and Dmitri were also there, being fitted with security guard jackets. Though Trussoni doesn’t say so, it’s entirely probable they were working out a plan to get in as a group, and with Dmitri being head of security, they’d have a possibility of making it work. But Verlaine straight-up leaves the group without a word of explanation or excuse, and as far as we can tell none of them protest him leaving.
Trussoni’s often vague in her writing; in the McDonald’s scene earlier, we didn’t know what Eno was doing. In the fight scene in Russia we’re never told that Verlaine lowers his leg after kicking someone, so we’re left to conclude he had it raised as he patted his pockets for a few seconds. And here? We’re not told any dialogue about him leaving. So we’re left to assume that the other angelolololologists, as stupid as they are, know precisely how dumb Verlaine is and don’t care at all that he left.
Verlaine climbs to the top level, seeing a ton of imprisoned Nephilim. There’s a bit that says
Over the years he’d lost all ability to feel empathy for the Nephilim, and yet, when he looked at the tortured state of the prisoners, he wondered if the Russian angelologists weren’t being too harsh in their methods.
And I wrote in my book “Ya think?”
Verlaine is the only angelologit who questions the society’s methods. And even then, it’s pretty half-hearted. Right now, he doesn’t think that the society as a whole goes too far, it’s just the Russian branch, despite it being a natural extension of the entire group’s goals. Remember the video that Evangeline’s parents made while torturing Percival Grigori in Chapter 13? Or when Verlaine said he and Bruno regularly round up Mara Nephilim even when they’re not doing anything but staying out of the cold in Chapter 15? Or how about Eno mentioning how angelologits like to rape her in Chapter 2?
In short, the angelologists are rotten to the core, but Verlaine doesn’t seem to care that much. He’s the only one that questions the Society’s actions, but he rarely seems disturbed by them. He just thinks it’s a bit too hard on the bad guys.
What a git.
Now security isn’t completely incompetent, as they see Verlaine walking around and call out to him. Verlaine, realizing that he can’t speak Russian, his ID badge doesn’t match his face, and that he left the head of security’s office without bothering to come up with a plan, decides his best move is to sort of ignore it and keep going. For once in the book, someone acts like a normal human being: the Russian guard goes after Verlaine and starts shouting. Trussoni, deciding that we need convinced that Verlaine is awesome (he’s not), has him leap over a rail on a catwalk to land on a floor below.
Yeah, still not anywhere near the Parkour Master.
He runs along level two and comes to a metal door. Verlaine somehow decides he should go this way, possibly because a bunch of guards are coming after him. But OHES NOES! The door is locked! So what does Verlaine do to get through? Does he pick the lock fast enough? Does he happen to have a key on him that will solve the situation? Does he regret not sticking with the others (including the Head of Security) and possibly missing out on being given a master key to the whole facility? Does he get caught? Nope.
He shoots the lock.
Verlaine grabbed his gun and shot the lock. The report made a tremendous amount of noise, and the guards would now be able to follow the sound to his location, but there was a chance that he could escape through the door, and that was all he needed.
That is so dumb.
Seriously, he had nothing else other than to shoot the lock? The chance that he could escape without guards following after he fired off a gun in the facility. Everyone knows where he is now, everyone knows something’s up, and now as far as they know that person is an armed madman willing to use lethal force. In a reasonably-told story, this would be the part where he’d realize he should have stuck with the others and come up with a plan. By all logic, the Russian guards should find him and fill with holes in five minutes.
But this book doesn’t run on logic, does it? No, it turns out that the door is just a closet, and that closet conveniently opens to a bunch of air shafts for Verlaine to hide in and crawl to where the Plot needs him. What a crazy coincidence.
In the air shaft he watches the guards run past, because they’re as intelligent as the Plot needs. Really, if the gun shot was heard in this area, and there was a door that had had the lock shot through, and inside were a bunch of vents… wouldn’t you assume that’s where he went? This isn’t detective work on the level of Sherlock Holmes. This is common sense.
Verlaine loses his grip and falls to the bottom of the shaft. After a quick break in the text for no reason, he’s stunned, but then swiftly comes back to it.
In the past forty-eight hours he’d been beaten and burned and frozen. His muscles hurt, and he was bruised and broken. It was a miracle that he was still alive
You bet your bottom dollar it is! Verlaine is too stupid to be a field agent! The only reason he isn’t dead is that he’s constantly bailed out by Bruno and others.
I’m sorry, carry on?
and, in reaction to the absurdity of the situation, he began to laugh. He drummed the opening beats to the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” with his fingers on the concrete.
…I so do not care right now.
I get what Trussoni’s going for, but there are so much more important things going on. The Plot is afoot! So I don’t care that Verlaine finds it all funny or that he likes Rolling Stones. None of that matters, and none of that is remotely entertaining! All it does is make Verlaine look like an idiot! Shouldn’t he be working out where he is and doing his darn best to not make any noise?? Isn’t the whole point of sneaking around to not be detected?
But guess what? By crazy random coincidence, he’s exactly where he needs to be! The part of the ventilation shaft he’s in just happens to be right in Godwin’s lab! How convenient.
And not only that, Eno’s there! So she can ask Godwin about what he’s doing. She wants him to do some more tests on Evangeline, but he tells her that she’s got too many sedatives in her body, so they can wait. And in the mean time, Godwin will explain how his Mad Science Machine works!
“This machine,” Godwin said, “will extract the angel’s blood and filter it. We are interested in the blue cells, as you know, and this machine over here will separate the blue from the red and white blood cells. Evangeline is interesting to us, just as her father was interesting to the Romanovs one hundred years ago, because of the rare quality of her blood. Hers is red blood, not blue blood, but it contains an abundance of blue blood cells, which, if one were to get technical, contain stem cells of an extremely adaptable and creative variety, far superior in their generative power to human stem cells. The precision of this equipment gives us great advantage over blood used in the past. Rasputin, for example, used blood that had been withdrawn from an angel, but he could not filter it. It was an inseparable conglomeration of white, red and blue cells. He must have fed it to the tsarevitch whole, which would have made the child desperately sick before he began to improve. Not us. We will use just the cells we need. And with these cells, we will continue the project I began with your masters. Soon we will see the results of our labors.
No one in the entire world talks like this. I know it’s difficult to get into the mind of an evil scientist sometimes, but reread those last two sentences. Do they sound like an English scientist? No, they sound like a cackling mad scientist from a Hammer horror film, complete with a funny accent. I get that Godwin walked around thinking about how much of a douchebag he is, but still. C’mon, Trussoni. Would it kill you to write someone who acted and talked like a human being?
Second… a machine that filters blood? Um… okay? I don’t get it, precisely. Is he going to take the blood and clone more Nephilim with it? Inject already-living Nephilim with it? I don’t know! It’s just this weird machine that does weird things and that’s all you need to know. That’s all you’re meant to know. Given the amount of detail that Godwin goes into describing what the machine does, you’d think the author would see fit to tell us what it’s for.
Third: oh, so we’re back to caring about Rasputin again? Can this book make up its mind? I’m glad that it came up with some explanation as to what it was he was doing that made him renowned as a healer for the imperial kid, but at this point it seemed as if the narrative was no longer related to Rasputin at all.
“No creator since God has been as successful in fashioning a living being as I have,” Godwin said.
And Eno replies that he’d better do it in a way that doesn’t disappoint her bosses. Which is dumb, because you’d think she’d have more of a reaction to Godwin comparing himself to GOD.
Look, the whole schtick with the Nephilim is that they see themselves as angels, right? They think they have every right to run the world because they’re heavenly beings. One of the twins says earlier in the book that they should be running the show because of it. Maybe Eno, being a mercenary, doesn’t have the lofty ambitions of the Grigoris, but… she just has no reaction? We should be getting something out of her. Is she upset at God for not being in Heaven right now? Does she find this blasphemous in the way a religious person might? Or does she think of God as a tyrant and encourages this from Godwin? We don’t know. Yeah, we’re in a book where we have an angelic character, and her relationship to God isn’t explored in the slightest, even when it’s brought up in the text.
This book is so dumb.Godwin assures Eno that the Panopticon couldn’t disappoint, to which Eno says “The Grigori capacity for disappointment is very high. They have me here to make sure you don’t fuck this up.”
…Trussoni knows swear words? Really? I did not know that.
In any case, what does Eno mean? Because her statement just makes it sound like the Grigoris are downers who are always disappointed about everything, sort of like that kid in your class who rolls his eyes every time the teacher says something.
But then the Plot intervenes. Godwin rips open the ventilation system (and we get him described for the first time: “a man with a deathly white face topped by a shock of carrot-orange hair” ), grabs Verlaine and shoves him in a cave. Verlaine is evidently unable to mount any kind of defense against this elderly gentleman.
Alright, here’s the thing guys; Godwin should at least by this point be in his fifties or sixties. Verlaine is about forty according to Chapter 7, and supposedly in peak condition. Godwin is a scientist whose only exercise is his walk to and from work in an underground bunker. This should not be happening. Verlaine should easily be able to break Godwin’s hold and make a break for it, from all that we’re told of how amazing he is. But no, because consistency is a thing that doesn’t exist in this universe, he gets beaten back.
It wouldn’t even have had to have been a huge change of outcome! Trussoni could have written the scene so that Verlaine is able to beat back Godwin but then gets shoved into the cage by Eno. That is all that had to be done, and it could have made a lot more sense. But instead, Trussoni decided to make Verlaine as useless as a sack of potatoes on a basketball court, and the editor was asleep.
Verlaine looks around the room from his cage, and guess what he sees? The Grigori twins strapped to a table.
At the center of the room, strapped to two examining tables near Godwin and Eno, were the Grigori twins. Verlaine couldn’t tell if they were alive or dead: They’d been stripped and laid out like corpses. Their golden wings were wrapped around their bodies, covering them from chest to ankle in scintillating plumage. Their skin was bluish gray, the color of ash. Surely they must be dead, Verlaine thought, but then he saw one of them blink his eyes, and he knew that they were somehow part of Eno and Godwin’s experiment.
Yeah, if you’re confused, you’re not alone.
Let’s review the Plot here, as it pertains to the villains in this scene:
-Godwin works for the Grigoris. He apparently cloned Percival Grigori to make the twins, and has been doing his best to cure the virus afflicting them and create stronger Nephilim.
-The twins hire Eno to capture Evangeline and send her to Godwin for experiments/DNA to create stronger Nephilim or something.
-Before freeing Eno, Sneja, the twins’ aunt, doesn’t know where Evangeline is. This plot point isn’t addressed again.
-Eno gets captured, the twins free her, and they go to the Panopticon/Angelopolis/Godwin’s lab… for reasons? Eno says it’s to supervise for her bosses, the Grigoris.
-Now the twins are strapped to a table for some experiment.
Are the baddies going to kill the twins? Has Eno turned on her masters? If so, then why does talk about reporting to them? Is this procedure to enhance the twins somehow? How? There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with them; everything we’ve been told about them says that they’re the top breed of Nephilim, and perfectly healthy. How did the twins get in the door without anyone noticing anyhow?
If you said, “None of this is ever explained,” congratulations, you’ve figured out how this book works.
But who cares (not Trussoni, I assure you)? Because it turns out that the cage Verlaine got shoved in was the same one Evangeline’s in! She gives the stereotypical “I knew you’d come,” and how they can’t believe they found each other or something. It’s as if you’re supposed to think theirs is a forbidden love or something, but I just don’t care because this level of affection isn’t earned in the slightest. Seriously, look at this:
As Evangeline spoke to him, Verlaine felt as if the order of the universe were changing shape. Somehow when he was near her, he understood everything perfectly. He knew why he had thought of her so often; he understood why he’d followed her halfway around the world. Verlaine’s heart was beating too hard, sweat falling from his forehead and dripping down his neck. This woman had changed everything. He couldn’t go forward without her.
That last sentence? I want you to take that last sentence, and memorize it. Pull it out, put it in your pocket, but don’t you dare forget about it. We’re going to pull it out later.
Anyhow, this is awful. These two have no chemistry, but right now Verlaine is supposedly madly in love with this woman for… no reason whatsoever. There is nothing to suggest that Verlaine’s attachment to Evangeline is special though. He just sort of vaguely pines over her sometimes in this book. I don’t know what about her it is that Verlaine likes. He just does.
Because Plot I guess.
Verlaine makes what might be a joke? I can’t tell because it’s not funny.
“We’re going to have to perform some serious Houdini to get out of this.”
And then there’s a scene break. To a few minutes later. No really, right after that last blockquote, there’s a gap and then the next sentence is
It was only a matter of minutes before Verlaine heard a commotion at the door—Bruno and Yana had broken into the lab.
That’s right—Bruno and Yana had to save Verlaine yet again. Verlaine is more useless than Bruno. Think about that.
More to the point though, this is just hilarious. Verlaine goes off on his own without a plan and without consulting his allies and gets captured in about ten minutes. Bruno and Yana work out a plan and get in with apparently no problems whatsoever minutes later. It really shows how much of a whiney baby Verlaine is, doesn’t it? If he’d waited five minutes he could have been storming in with them. But because Trussoni wanted him to be an idiot he went and got captured.
Bruno chases Godwin, despite his obsession with Eno who… isn’t mentioned for the rest of the chapter. Either she’s no longer in the room, or she’s still there and no one, not even the author or editor, noticed.
Yana gets them out of the cage and so Verlaine and Evangeline go, “leaving the others to fight.”
…I’m not even that much of a Monty Python fan, but c’mon. I have to do it.
Why is he running? He doesn’t say he needs to get Evangeline to safety. Neither of them are particularly wounded, as far as the text mentioned (I mean they were, but I presume they just healed as quickly as they do in movies)? So they just leave.
Verlaine and Evangeline take off, running through the facility, which is falling apart now I guess because that’s what happens when the place is wired to explode. Bond villain lairs are built better than this, guys.
Evangeline seems to know the way out, because she’s “wired to sense” Nephilim and can thus more easily navigate the facility. It’s BS, I know, but just roll with it, okay? We’re almost done.
As they run, they see escaped Nephilim attacking guards, forming mobs, and trying to escape. There are “Men in uniforms…in pools of blood” and bodies that “lay bloody on the concrete floor of the moat, some screaming in agony, others unconscious or dead.” Which I imagine is supposed to be a horrifying picture, but they were angelologits running a genocidal death camp so… how bad am I really going to feel? Realistically speaking?
Now Evangeline by all rights should be in terrible shape, having been tortured for the past few days, but she can apparently fly, “hovering like a hummingbird.” Does that mean her wings flap super-fast? I dunno. It doesn’t say. Verlaine ogles how beautiful and “pureblood” she is for a while and then she picks him up and starts flying him out.
“I wouldn’t let you fall,” she said. “Ever.”
Once again a romantic line that’s not earned. And also keep this one in your pocket. Please, do so. It’ll be important, I promise.
And then they get out and Lucien appears out of nowhere.
Despite his huge white wings, there was something simple, almost childlike, about him.
This isn’t important to the story, I just want to show that Trussoni describes him as childlike again, this time explicitly. So it’s not just me. Evangeline’s mother seduced a childlike character.
Lucien introduces himself to Evangeline, they show off wings (apparently how angels greet each other), and Lucien drops the bomb that he’s her father. Which according to him, he already knew “in [her] heart” or some such nonsense. That doesn’t make any sense, because she had no reason to assume her father was anyone other than Luca Cacciatore, the guy who had been her father in the last book. But… pfft, whatever, we’re almost done.
So Evangeline kisses Verlaine goodbye and then tells him to get out of the Panopticon’s ruins “before it’s too late.” Too late for what isn’t specified.
And the chapter ends. Next time we get to start the last section, titled ‘TREACHERY’ because… I don’t know, reasons I guess. But we’ve only got two more chapters and an epilogue left! Hooray!
Who is our viewpoint character for next chapter?
Oh crudbiscuits, it’s Verlaine. And he gets whinier.
See you next time guys.