Shinn has this problem where occasionally she doesn’t seem to buy her own romances. Summers at Castle Auburn was like that. There’s not really anything there to indicate that the heroine and the hero are in love. The book worked because of the heroine’s relationships with other characters, which were much more compelling. The romance existed independently of the plot – everything would have played out pretty much the same way if the hero and heroine hadn’t known each other. There’s no real reason for the romance to be there, but because it doesn’t clog up the workings of the plot, it doesn’t hurt anything.
Jovah’s Angel, unfortunately, has a clog in its system.
The book is the second in Shinn’s Samaria series, which can be categorized as Sci-Fi Where There’s Magic That Is Actually Bad Science (as opposed to Magic That Is Actually Believable Science, like I can’t say the title of this series because it’s actually a spoiler ack). Genetically engineered angels rule the planet Samaria, a human colony that has forgotten the advanced technology that brought them there, and is just on the verge of an industrial revolution. The world is inhospitable due to extreme weather, so the angels were created to keep the weather in check, which they do by singing weather-related “prayers” to the god Jovah – who is obviously an AI.
But something has gone wrong, and the only angel whose voice Jovah still hears is shy, insecure Alleya. When the previous archangel, the brilliant and charismatic Delilah, loses the use of her wings in an accident, Alleya is forced to step into her shoes. She must work together with Caleb, the world’s most brilliant engineer and an atheist, to solve the problem, while searching for the husband Jovah has chosen for her. Meanwhile, Caleb’s best friend Noah, another engineer, has become obsessed with the idea of repairing the despairing Delilah’s wings.
Cut for spoilers.
Continue reading Jovah’s Angel, Sharon Shinn
Today was Archangel. This book creeps me out a little bit more every time I re-read it.
The first time, I remember being very impressed by Josiah. He’s clearly a very cynical person, if not an actually evil one – the power behind the throne, he manipulates Gabriel and Rachel and Raphael, relatively simple-minded people, into doing what he wants. When he says that God has no emotional attachment to human beings, he’s talking about himself. And while it’s obvious to the reader that he condescends to and lies to everyone he meets, none of the characters ever realizes it.
Rachel never quite catches on that Josiah dismisses her faith as a cargo cult (though he says it pretty clearly), and Gabriel never realizes that Josiah, reassuring him of God’s existence, is just telling him what he wants to hear. Our heroes all sort of absent-mindedly think of him as the story’s non-threatening mentor figure who exists only to set up their own stories. And then they all live happily ever after within Josiah’s plot, without ever noticing there was a plot to begin with.
But this time through, I’m developing the sneaking suspicion that Shinn doesn’t realize it, either. I liked the book so much better when I thought she was in on it. My meta-book is so much more awesome than the real one.
Also, the book suffers from What These People Need Is A Honky syndrome. Why couldn’t Rachel herself have been ethnically one of the pseudo-Romani, exactly? Why did she have to be adopted? Was her blondness in some manner integral to her function within the narrative?
So I have been reading Anita Blake (at work!), and I just started Obsidian Butterfly, and in the middle of the obligatory scene where she’s on a plane and talks about how much she hates being on planes, Anita Blake just all of a sudden says,
“I was reading Sharon Shinn. She was an author that I trusted to hold my attention even hundreds of feet above the ground with a thin metal sheet between me and eternity.”
Sharon Shinn? What with the sparkly kinda-chaste beta-male romances? Laurell K. Hamilton likes Sharon Shinn? …I mean, do they know each other? What do they talk about? Their cunning plans to progressively suck slightly more every new book they put out?
Actually, now that I think about it, they’re pretty similar. It’s just that while Hamilton’s descent into self-indulgent crap led to freaky sex, Shinn’s led to saccharine domesticity. Same basic impulse. Okay, world makes sense now, I’m good.
The previous book, Blue Moon, had some plot in it, but the Badass-Detective-Work-to-Fondling-Bisexual-Werecreatures ratio has gotten on the wrong side of 1:1. Is this the point where I should be stopping? I note that I am only one book away from Narcissus in Chains, which I have heard is the Crazy Horrible Bad One.
(The quality of these books seems to be directly proportional to the amount of Officer Zerbrowski in them. I think his presence enforces some sort of exercise of self-control on Hamilton’s part. It’s hard to fit that particular character type into sexual fantasies.)