There are a few quotes I told you to keep in the back of your mind for the finale. Well that time is now. Get them prepared. You ready? Good. Let’s go on then.
I’ve been calling this the epilogue. Like I explained in the last chapter sporking, that’s sort of true. It acts as an epilogue—it’s in a new setting, and describes the aftermath of the book, if only vaguely. And it gives us a cliffhanger ending.
Some things to note before we reach the end:
It’s been pointed out by Lone Wolf and Smith in the comments that the ending of the novel isn’t actually that out there. Yeah, it’s written in the most awful way imaginable, but for the most part I agree; it’s not that unpredictable. But I have to remind you guys that you’re reading this with the benefit of having a sporking lens: you’re not sitting in a comfy armchair, quickly devouring this book the way I was. I picked it up and desperately hoped that I’d be reading something good, and went through one chapter after the other at breakneck pace. So when the horrible bits stuck out, it was like racing over a bumpy road and then getting smacked in the face with a pile of turd.
I read fast. And I read this book in a Barnes and Noble, which means I read it faster because I don’t like to be taking up public space for too long. So yeah, not all the details of the book stuck when I first read it. Some of the stupidest parts were difficult to miss (Godwin being a traitor but still being an angelologit for one), but it wasn’t until I reached the very end did it really get to me just how bad this book was.
Maybe I’ve over-hyped this ending. Maybe you’ll get to it and say, “I knew it! I knew that’s what it would be!” Maybe you’ll just roll your eyes and say, “Well, duh.” And yeah, that’s my fault for all the hinting and foreshadowing I’ve thrown at you guys. But I stand by my statement that it’s the worst closing line that I’ve ever read in a book.
So yeah. This is the end. I hope you enjoyed the ride. I know I did. Mostly. Ish.
So we begin an unspecified amount of time later in the same city the book began: Paris.
Academy of Angelology, fourteenth arrondissement, Paris
I say ‘unspecified’ but there’s a bit that tells us it’s Easter Sunday. That means it’s April 4, because this book takes place in 2010. There have been very little hints throughout as to when in 2010 this takes place, and they’re vague at best, mostly relating to characters talking about recent research and scholarship. I haven’t put too much emphasis on it in the past, but retroactively it becomes very odd. If Trussoni had a planned calendar of events for the book…why didn’t she just tell us? Why give us a specific date now? We don’t have a frame of reference for when the rest of the book takes place in the year (other than it’s in January, February or March), so this specific date is barely informative. It doesn’t tell us anything.
Oh and we’re back with Verlaine.
Verlaine sat at the long oak table, listening to the church bells in the distance. The council would arrive any minute, and Verlaine wanted to be ready.
Yup, despite them being entirely useless, there is indeed a ruling council for the Society of Angelologits. There are people that these chuckmuffins are supposed to answer to. Now, you may have questions about this. I know I do. Questions like:
-Why didn’t Verlaine and Bruno clear it with their superiors about going after Evangeline at the beginning of the novel? They’re based in Paris too, so it wouldn’t be difficult?
-Why did none of them do anything about Godwin?
-Why don’t they have tighter control of their field agents in general? The characters sort of stumble around from one location to another and have to inform the angelologists on site what they’re doing there. If there’s a ruling council, couldn’t they arrange information to be sent or something? Have a file on the case that can be passed around?
-Why didn’t Valko or Azov or anyone feel the need to call the council about freeing the Watchers? Why is it never even brought up? It’s kind of a big decision.
-Why didn’t Dmitri inform the council that Godwin was loading up the Panopticon with explosives?
-Why they’re almost never mentioned at any point in the novel?
Heck, the last book had an out in the flashback sequence. In the time period the flashback is set in, the council is revealed to be completely corrupt and in the Nephilim’s pockets, so the main characters there couldn’t trust them with anything. A throwaway comment in the dialogue about the council being too bureaucratic to be efficient or something would have done just as well for this book. As it is, all we know is that there is this council that ostensibly in charge of this organization, and yet they do absolutely nothing with its members. No one reports to them, or talks about reporting to them, or needs their authorization for important assignments. Once again, this reeks of Trussoni not thinking about how the organization should be run and just throwing it in for no reason.
He knew that, despite their tendency to make conservative decisions, it wouldn’t be difficult to convince them.
…I wouldn’t call any of the angelolololologists’ leadership ‘conservative’ as much as ‘radically and certifiably insane.’ From the death camps to the free reign their field agents have, not to mention the known traitor put in a position of power where no one could monitor him, I’d struggle to assign any rational mode of thought to these people.
The damage alone was enough to warrant full and immediate deployment of all their agents.
Well yeah, a ton of people and goats were killed, and parts of Siberia were torched, so I suppose that calls for action—
The meltdown had poisoned a third of the planet. The Watchers were free. Human beings were terrified and had begun to form armies. Angelologists had no choice but to fight.
Yeah, things got fuzzy again. The apocalypse that was going on? Apparently not so contained. A third of the planet got trashed; which third, and how it got trashed, are things which Trussoni apparently didn’t think were important enough to tell us. At no point beforehand is it hinted precisely how big this catastrophe was. And humans are apparently forming armies. What kinds of armies and what they’re scared of isn’t clear. Have the Watchers and Nephilim revealed themselves? Are people just terrified of the planet getting trashed and don’t know the cause? How are the lines being formed? Have we entered post-apocalyptic territory?
I said this last chapter and I’ll say it again: why was this book set at a specific point in the past (2010) if it doesn’t remotely reflect reality. This book wasn’t published that year; it came out in 2013. Look, my senior year of high school had its low points, but things weren’t that bad. Why would Trussoni set an apocalypse right then if nothing like that happened in real life? This confusion would have been avoided entirely if the book just didn’t have the year mentioned at any point, but for whatever reason the author did and it only makes the entire story an even bigger mess.
A door opened and, with a great shuffling of feet, the council members entered the athenaeaum.
Trussoni, please stop handing out commas like free samples. Also what the fudge is an athenaeaum? That sounds made up. I should look that up…
TO THE WIKI-MOBILE!
[looks up on Wikipedia]
Welp, according to Wikipedia, it can mean an awful lot of things, from museums to schools to libraries and performance halls. So Trussoni’s use of the term without any meaningful context means… absolutely nothing.
I’m sure you guys were surprised.
Also, it’s spelled ‘athenaeum.’ Trussoni put another ‘a’ in there because… she thought the vowels were getting lonely, I guess?
Verlaine, Yana, Dmitri, Azov, and Bruno stood, waiting as the council sat around the table.
Now you might be wondering, how many of these council members are there? What are they like? Where are they from? What are their names? Well you can just screw off for all Trussoni cares, because this is all information that is never given to the reader. This would be an opportune moment to give it to us, but Trussoni skips ahead to instead tell us about Bruno gazing into Verlaine’s eyes with a reassuring smile.
No really, I’m not making that up. The next few sentences are
Bruno met his eyes and smiled, his expression weary. Even if they got everything they wanted, there would be nothing to celebrate. They all knew that they were bound to fight until the last creature had been killed.
Uh, you have a formula that makes Nephilim human? Yeah, Evangeline flew off with the only vial, but you still have the recipe don’t you? Why don’t ya, I don’t know… make some more? I suppose that would kill the boner that the angelologits have for violence, but it seems more practical. Valko said that putting it in a water supply would make them all human. So… yeah, seems easier.
I guess that might now work on Watchers, who don’t have any human blood in them, but… you’ve got to start somewhere.
A council member, a woman with gray hair and large eyeglasses, nodded to Verlaine and his companions. “My fellow angelologists, we have called you here to ask for your assistance.”
This woman is not named. This is stupid.
It was only when I reread this scene last week or so that I realized—the council and the five named angelologists are the only ones in the room. At least, they’re the only ones mentioned in the scene. You’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise, when councilwoman here begins the same way the President of the United States begins his addresses (“My fellow Americans”).
The council member cleared her throat and met Verlaine’s eyes. He felt a shiver of admiration. There was something in her manner that inspired a sense of fearlessness.
I don’t know why; the council’s been completely useless. And we’re at the end of the novel, so what that “something” is that inspires courage is never going to be defined. This is like the hackiest hack writing I’ve ever seen—it’s a generic “We will fight the bad guys!” speech. I’m bored.
“Our council has spoken at great length about the current situation. We are fully aware of the danger of our position. We are also aware that we are fighting for the very existence of our world.” She took a deep breath and continued. “And so, we have decided, after much consideration, to disband the council.
I think Trussoni wanted us to read this and be concerned about our “heroes,” but instead my reaction is along the lines of:
Let’s be real here, the council has done absolutely nothing. It didn’t have any role in the major events that occurred in the novel. They might as well not exist. This statement is clearly supposed to have some sort of impact on the reader, but it doesn’t. We’ve never seen the council do anything at all, nor have the characters acted as if they’re important in the slightest. Even now, when they’re actually on-page, we don’t know how many of them there are, and Trussoni didn’t decide to give a name to the councilwoman that’s speaking right now. It’s bugging me though, so we’re going to call her Panchita.
So Panchita says they’re dissolving the council? We don’t give a flying fudge muffin, because they weren’t a relevant part of the world the story takes place in. The characters in the book obviously don’t care about them, so why should we?
But now that I think about… they were in the background. Sometimes they were vaguely referred to, such as in the flashback to Godwin’s file or when Valko discusses why Godwin isn’t six feet under. Basically, every decision that they have made that affects the story has been a disastrous one. They’re hopelessly inept. So them disbanding can’t be anything but good, unless they replace their current leadership with something worse.
…they’re gonna do that aren’t they?
It is clear that we are entering a new era, one of great destruction, one of terrible danger and sadness. At the same time, we are aware of the prophecies that have been made, the apocalypse that is at hand, and the possibility that this time of pain has arrived so that we might rise into a new and better world.
…this dialogue sucks. I’m sorry, but as I said earlier, there are maybe, what, a dozen people in the room? So why is Panchita making this long pretentious monologue? If she were addressing a huge crowd of angelologists from around the world, people who didn’t witness the plot happening and didn’t quite know what was going on, it would make sense for her to say all of this in vague terms and inspiring clichés. But all five of these characters were (collectively) there for the whole thing. They would have filled each other in on everything by now. They know what’s going on. You don’t need to give a dramatic speech; you need to talk to them like a normal person.
And what’s with this “prophecies that have been made” nonsense? What prophecies? I don’t recall anyone in the book talking about prophecies. Vera says that the Dürer art on the Book of Revelation is what would happen if the Watchers escaped (and I outlined why that doesn’t work), but that was a guess. I suppose she could be talking about the Book of Revelation, but… that doesn’t make sense either. There isn’t much to support the idea that this is the Biblical apocalypse. I don’t know if I can rule it out though, because so much of what’s happening hasn’t actually been described, so I suppose it’s possible that the events of Revelation are happening out there, and Trussoni just decided it wasn’t interesting enough to write about them. But if it’s not a strict reading of Christian theology that this battle is based on, then what the eff is Panchita talking about? The whole ‘there will be a better world’ thing? That sounds like traditional religious beliefs, the idea of a new and better world coming out from the ashes of the old one. It’s a motif that comes up in several world mythologies.
But if none of those mythologies or religions are the basis for these events, then do the angelologists just have their own belief system? As I mentioned in the past, the last book made the assertion that the Society made a point to be split from the Catholic Church, so they’re not a Catholic organization, and they don’t seem to have any other religious affiliations. So… do they have their own beliefs about what the end of the world will look like and result in? It rather seems like it, doesn’t it? There’s plenty enough subtext to read the Society of Angelologists as an evil cult if we really wanted to. Sure, there’s evidence that they’re not as well—lack of strong central leadership, for one. But look at it: they’ve got their own beliefs, they’re secretive about their beliefs and activities when they have no reason to be, there’s a complete lack of direct communication between different cells, possibly even rivalry (the French angelologists’ ID’s don’t get them clearance in Russia), and they’re so fanatical in their beliefs that they don’t seem to understand how what they could be doing (Nazi-style death camps) is wrong.
…this epilogue really isn’t that long. I should be getting on with it.
To do this we need a leader, one who knows the enemy, one who has the strength to see this battle through. We expect this leader be chosen from our elite angel hunters.”
You’re… oh, no. I know what you’re leading up to, Trussoni, and don’t you dare—
Verlaine felt the eyes of the council members burning into him as he realized, suddenly, that they expected him to volunteer.
You might be saying to yourself, “Juracan, why are you so offended? Couldn’t you tell by the tone of the conversation that the book was going in this direction?” Well, yes. But it’s A) still really stupid, and B) it’s done in the stupidest method conceivable. Let’s take this one step at a time.
A.) Verlaine is not qualified to be the leader of this organization. He doesn’t know the enemy at all—nothing in the book suggests he has any idea how the enemy thinks. He’s an awful strategist and fighter, despite Trussoni constantly assuring us otherwise via the other characters—he gets taken down in every physical conflict he finds himself, never calls for backup when he needs it, and constantly goes off and does his own thing without telling his co-workers. If this was the beginning of his hero’s journey, it’d be more excusable, but Verlaine’s a middle-aged man and the book tells us again and again that Verlaine’s supposed to be good at his job, a claim that is undermined by every single action he takes in the book.
To recap: no combat skills, no interpersonal communication skills, no strategic mind, no charisma, no management skills, and no exceptional intelligence. That’s not me being mean, those are the facts.
Verlaine is a terrible choice for a leader. Even if he were the Super Rare Awesome Chocolatey-Fudge-Covered Mega Super Field Agent that they’re acting like he is (and I am compelled to tell you he’s not), wouldn’t it make more sense to keep him in the field? The leader of the organization should be someone with more administrative abilities. Out of the people present… okay, let’s be real, they’re all poor choices, but Vera and Azov fit the bill a bit better. Maybe Dmitri, given he ran a prison for a while, but he also barely did anything about Godwin after he was caught rigging the facility with plastic explosives, so… yeah, clearly not a braniac. And Bruno’s an imbecile, but he at least does better than Verlaine. He’s the one that always has to bail Verlaine out of whatever hole he dug himself into.
But if you insist on a badass field agent, why not Yana? She knows random magic spells, she broke off an engagement so that she could be a better angelologit, and she’s actually good at her job. Expertise, skill, dedication—complete package right there!
B.) This has the writing quality of a pile of dung. The nameless background characters who have done nothing more or less threw up their hands and cried out “We need a pwotagonist to lead us!” There is no voting system, we have no idea how much Panchita talked about it with her fellow council members, and we don’t know if anyone else in the society had any say whatsoever. All we know is that in this little room somewhere in Paris, a small group of people who pretty much admitted they don’t know what they’re doing right now picked this one guy they barely know who no qualifications to lead the human race against the demonic hordes. Why? Because he’s the pwotagonist, that’s why.
Bruno nudged him softly, as if pushing him forward.
I swear if I only gave you their interactions from this epilogue, you might think Verlaine and Bruno were the main couple of the book. Do with that what you will.
In that moment, with the council members gazing at him, with Bruno at his side and his body seething with fear and anger, Verlaine knew what he must do. He would stand and lead the battle. He would kill the Nephilim, destroy the Watchers, and bring human beings to victory.
You know, I’m less reminded of any inspiring quotes and more of Darth Maul swearing to kill everyone who pissed him off. Yes, I get that he’s in a war. But I also think it’s quite disturbing how the angelologists have boiled down the conflict into “Human = Good! Nephilim = The Most Evil Piece of Turd to Crawl from Satan’s Butt!” They never wanted peace. They want to kill them all.
If you’ve ever played the last few Assassin’s Creed games, they bring this sort of thing up. The story of the series revolves around a secret war between Assassins and Templars, but it’s been brought up several times that the fact that these two groups won’t even try to see eye-to-eye is disturbing and that if an Assassin and Templar actually sat down and talked things out, they might actually be able to have some common ground and get some actual change done.
Angelologists? Nope! If you’ve got wings, to them you might as well be Hitler. You have to die. Never mind that there’s no proof that Nephilim are evil by nature, and there are plenty of them that seem to just be minding their own business like Evangeline. And Verlaine, the one character who has questioned this mindset throughout the book? He’s changed his mind and gone over completely.
But what about Evangeline?
Above all, he would find Evangeline.
Oh, okay. Well as long as that’s still—
And when he did, he would look into her pale green eyes and he would kill her.
Aaaaaaaaaaand there’s the last sentence of the book.
Like I said, maybe I hyped it up too much, but there it is. Verlaine has regressed as a character. Somehow, off-page, he decided that Evangeline, who up to this point is treated by Verlaine and the text as the love of his life, needs to die. Why? [shrugs] I dunno. Trussoni didn’t tell us. Does he think Evangeline’s evil now? Is Evangeline evil now? Has she done anything wrong? We don’t know. We can’t know. There’s no way for us to have worked it out. All we have is the text, which tells us this: Evangeline decides to not become human the second Verlaine asks and flies off with her dad, and for that Verlaine has decided that she needs to be killed. She’s never hurt anyone except in self-defense. She didn’t even give Verlaine a flat refusal—she pockets the formula, as if she might consider it later. But that’s not enough; Verlaine wants her now, D’Arvit, and if he can’t have her then no one can!
If it sounds like Verlaine’s an unstable ex or something, that’s because he is. Seriously, it was ten years since the last book, when he last saw and fell in love with her. And upon reuniting, he’s constantly talking about how important she is to him. And now, after crossing the world to find her, to saver her from a fate worse than death, she doesn’t get with him the second he asks and now she’s got to die.
He realized now that she was more special than he could have every guessed. He could hardly breathe. Evangeline was a thing of wonder, a miracle playing itself out before his eyes.
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.
Or this from the same chapter?
“I wouldn’t let you fall,” she said. “Ever.”
All of these overly dramatic romantic lines? It all leads up to Verlaine declaring that he has to kill Evangeline, with no overt explanation as to why. So I’m left to conclude that he’s an evil dick who decided to kill this woman he was obsessed with because she wouldn’t get together with him when he demanded it. What other answer am I supposed to get? How am I supposed to read Verlaine as anything but a misogynist dickweed after that ending line? The last line is literally a man declaring he’s going to kill the woman who rejected him.
Well the book’s over now.
I’m sorry, let me repeat:
ANGELOPOLIS IS OVER!
It’s been fun, guys. Yeah, this book made me angry and annoyed, but it’s also been a way to practice my editor skills and exercise my critical muscles. It took a couple years, but now it’s finally over. I have shown you guys the literary abomination that is Angelopolis.
But… I almost feel as if there should be a wrap-up. A final piece to cap it all off. A run-down of all the problems this novel has now that we’ve seen it all and can look back at it as a whole.
We’re not quite done yet. Join me next time for Closing Thoughts.