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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Review: "Seven Archangels: Annihilation"by Jane Lebak

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="260" caption="Seven Archangels: Annihilation"]Seven Archangels: Annihilation[/caption]

Seven Archangels: Annihilation
by Jane Lebak
ISBN: 0979307945

If you like angels and demons, this may be the book for you. Whereas the TV program "Touched By an Angel" played out in this world, this book primarily allows one to experience the world of angels and demons.

Certainly a difficult subject to pull off, simply because so many people have very set ideas of what angels and demons are like, as well as a theology about them. And one should be warned, this is not your daddy's angel book—unless you give it to him for Christmas. If you come at this book thinking this needs to conform to your theology of how angels are and act, you'll have a problem. Not that this book doesn't conform to a theology of angels, but one does have to keep in mind that this is fiction, not reality. The author isn't saying, "this is how angels really are and act." So if one comes at it giving the author some leeway in defining that world and knowing it may not sync with one's own theology one hundred percent, you'll enjoy this book.

The premise of the book is interesting. It boils down to what if Satan could kill an angel? In this story, he believes he can, and makes the attempt. And it appears he has succeeded in annihilating Gabriel. Can the other angels do anything to save Gabriel? Is one of them next? And what about God? Why did He allow this? The story follows the various angels and demons attempting to come to terms with Gabriel's annihilation.

If you're looking for an action packed book, this may not be for you. There is action to be had, but there are also chapters of dialog and waiting. Not that nothing is happening, but the pacing as far as action goes bogs down through the middle of the book, sandwiched between some well written action sequences in the beginning and the end.

But if you're wanting character interaction, look no further. A strong cast of angels and demons interact with one another, with well defined personalities and characters. I would suggest that the strong point of this novel is the cast of interesting characters and how they interact with one another. If that type of novel appeals to you, get this book and have at it.

If there is a weakness to the book, it would have to be the difficulty getting into the story. I think there are three reasons for this. One, while the cast of characters is the novel's strong point, they also contribute to the time it takes to get into the story. There are simply so many of them that it takes a while to match names with angels/demons. I almost felt I needed a program as in baseball to keep the players straight. But after some time, I had no trouble knowing who was who. It simply took three or four chapters to reach that point. And I'm on the slower side than others in that regard, so not all will have that same experience.

Two, the angel/demon world is so new and unlike our own that I was never sure what all the "rules" were as to how it operated. The strangeness of it kept me from sinking right into the story, attempting to acclimate myself to the world setting. Eventually I got there too, but it contributed to the delay. And each time a new power was revealed, I had to readjust the world's rules in my mind.

Three, while the point of view was well done and seamless in its execution so that I wasn't distracted from the story by it, it is written in a more omniscient view. Sometimes it sank into a close limited third with several of the characters, other times pulling back to a more omniscient perspective. While that point of view was necessary to tell the story, it did add to the time it took to get comfortable with the characters and their world.

I would say that by the fifth to sixth chapter or so, I didn't think as much about these things. If you're willing to spend a little time getting to know the characters and the world, if you like seeing a well developed setting, the story is worth the effort.

For the reader who enjoys a new world and a cast of interesting characters dealing with deep issues that we humans have faced for thousands of years, you don't want to miss out on this book. Despite the new world, and the angelic/demonic powers, what strikes me most is the very human issues it touches upon as this tale unfolds. And in that, it can teach us a lot about ourselves.

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