(3.5 out of 5 stars)
I had this book waiting on my desk to read for a while, thinking, this will be a fantastic, enjoyable read, no problem. I had read the two previous novels in the series and had really liked them (as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a total sucker for angel/fallen angel books). And while this book does deliver at the ends, the first half was a real slough to get through.
Since the first half of the book was relatively disappointing (at least for the standards I had for this series) and the second half was much more interesting, I will break my review into two parts:
The Bad: I literally thought the beginning of the book was a dream sequence or something, because in what world do literally almost all of the same group of friends go to the same college and move their little circle perfectly to Stanford? Yes, maybe I’m being too harsh- they’re all following their intertwined “purpose” and whatnot- but it was so cliché I could barely read it. And reading all about Clara going to classes and experiencing college, etc., felt like a really displaced, jarring aspect of the narrative. Not that it’s not a valid experience to explore but because this is the third book in a series and yet it felt like the first, with Clara being so innocent and having so many new experiences when it’s like hello, you have so many other major things going on, so many loose ends from the previous books. ALSO, a MAJOR pet peeve of mine was that it mentions one of the characters going to school in California at UC Santa Clara.
As a native Californian I wanted to pull my hair out reading this. There is a Santa Clara University which is a private, Jesuit, catholic university but it is in NO WAY part of the University of California public school system along with Berkeley, UCLA, etc. I was super disappointed by this oversight considering the author herself is a professor at Pepperdine University, which is also in California, and I don’t understand how this oversight possibly occurred. It really feels like lazy editing.
There was also some cheesy and really random time travel that went on but I won’t elaborate for those who haven’t read it yet.
The Good: About halfway through, when winter break hits, things start to pick up. The author did a really good job incorporating everyone’s purpose into the plot and entwining them all together. I also didn’t think the author would kill off characters but it happened more than I expected, and I appreciate an author who is willing to take risks and sacrifice their characters. I like how their is a distinction between true “fallen” angels who are aligned with hell and those who are in the in-between space like Phen, whose allegiance is tricky. And though it’s not new to this book in particular I loved loved loved the idea that the fallen (like Samjeeza) carry around this crippling Sorrow that literally radiates off of them, and is usually concentrated to one particular person/incident/experience. It’s a new take on the fallen angel theme and I always appreciate when an author brings something original to the table.
This is a potential spoiler, though I would consider it minor, but I really loved the following dialogue exchange regarding the concept of hell in this series:
“Not trapped but kept. Most of them do not realize they’re in hell. They have willed themselves here. They could leave at any time they choose, but they will never choose to.”
“Because they will not let go of what it is that brought them here to begin with.” –Boundless, 369
This is the most interesting notion of hell I have come across so far- that it’s completely self-inflicted. It’s a horrifying thought, but it makes sense with a frightening clarity, that we, as humans, damn ourselves. I thought this was a delightfully insightful aspect of the book.
The novel also sees a lot of character development, especially with Christian, which I appreciated because we’ve already seen so much with Tucker. The author did a great job evening out the playing field and developing both love interests well enough that I would have been upset no matter who Clara ended up with, and making two likeable male protagonists is definitely nothing to sneeze at.
Overall I’m glad I didn’t give up on this book the way I wanted too after the first 100 pages or so. The tediousness of the first half is definitely made up by a ton of action in the second half, with multiple plot twists that aren’t at all obvious, and multiple climactic moments- literally you think you’ve hit the climax of the plot and then it just gets topped again throughout the last 50 pages. This book is a sufficient end to a good series and doesn’t leave the reader with a lingering feeling of having wanted more than they were given.
Good if you’re looking for: A look at actual angels as well as fallen angels, a convincing love triangle, a California and or/Wyoming setting, an action-packed ending to a trilogy
Also, does anyone else love Samjeeza as much as I do?