Archangel

copy-of-copy-of-book-review

With a lot on my plate lately, it was sort of inevitable that I would fall into my comfort zone and re-read an old favourite rather than tackle the list of new to-reads that I have right now. Sometimes, you just need a bit of a mental break – and nothing but revisiting a world discovered ages ago will do.

However, since I’ve never written a review for this book, I thought it was about time.

archangel-cover

I discovered Archangel at a jumble sale at which you could fill bags and boxes with books for a pittance, and it was ages later that I read it. But in the tumble of abandoned classics, neglected YA, and trashy magazines, it stood out – and firmly cemented itself as a favourite.

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not a religious person. I have no overt complaints or problems with the institution of religion, but it hasn’t particularly called to me as an adult, nor have I sought it out.

Archangel then, may seem like a strange favourite.

It’s set on a world called Samaria, in which angels have holds in each region, mingle and mate with humans, and intercede with God on their behalf on issues of weather, health, and faith. It follows two main characters: Gabriel, who is slated to become the next Archangel (leader of the angel host), and Rachel, the woman who is chosen by God to become his wife, and thus, the next Angelica.

Gabriel is a stubborn man, determined that his term as Archangel will bring many changes for the better. Rachel is perhaps even more stubborn, though also more prideful, and much of her story is of trying to find her place and come to terms with the new life that she is expected to lead. They’re often frustrating characters to read about, but I was so emotionally invested in their story that I would plough through even when discontent.

This book is a simple read. It’s filled with faith, and it’s also filled with singing. Music is a central theme in the story simply because its how the characters communicate with God. The descriptions of music made me wish that I was more gifted with melodies, and it was easy to hear the lovely songs in my head as I was reading.

Though the story is that of two people brought together to wed, it isn’t precisely a love story. Rather, it’s a tale of pride, stubbornness, evil, and curiosity. The cast of characters is diverse, with various personalities coming together to form a very believable tapestry – even considering that some are angels.

Because I have read several other books in the series, I know that the stories of some are mentioned in passing in the narrative, which was a fun little surprise. For that same reason, I’m also aware that this book is not, in fact, a theological novel. While it deals with faith, with God, and with angels, its actually a science fiction novel, which makes it that much more brilliant. While you won’t get the full effect (or any of it, really) if you don’t read the other novels, the truths and stories revealed in the later books made me love this book even more.

This first novel in the series of Samaria books sets in place the world that is built upon in the later novels without going into so much detail that it becomes tedious.

In short, if you’re looking for a quick read that includes angels, a campaign for human rights, and a super awkward duo getting married, this is the one for you.

T5W: Books I Want To See As TV Shows

book-review-3

Starting this week, I’ll be participating in fun Top 5 Wednesday topics. This was created by Gingerreadslainey on youtube and the group can be found here. Every Wednesday a new topic asks people to choose their ‘top 5’ books in a specific category. With fall TV season around the corner, this week is focusing on books that I would want to see as TV shows!

First, a disclaimer. I would only want to see these as *good* TV shows (I’m looking at you, Golden Compass movie). In an ideal world, these would be well-adapted, cast properly with great actors, with budgets for good VFX, accurate sets, and elaborate or well-worn costumes depending on the situation. Seeing these badly butchered would be worse than having no adaptation at all!

That being said, let’s begin!

#1 – The Samaria Books, by Sharon Shinn

archangel-coverjovahs-angel-coveralleluia-files-coverangelica-coverangel-seeker-cover

I adore these books. A perfect blend of theology, science, romance, and adventure, I would pay good money to see them on a screen. Just imagining the diverse cast of characters playing out their stories is thrilling to me. It would work best if the books were adapted in chronological order rather than published order, though I’m sure an argument could be made for that as well.

Seeing angels come to life would almost be as great as the bomb soundtrack that I’m sure would accompany large gatherings, and play gently in the background at all other times. With rather serious topics spread throughout the series, it wouldn’t always be light watching – but it would sure as hell be satisfying.

#2 – Beka Cooper Books, by Tamora Pierce

beka-cooper-1beka-cooper-2beka-cooper-3

I’m a fan of all of Tamora Pierce’s books. While I think it would be cool to watch *all* of her books as shows, I realise how difficult it would be in the cases of books in which the protagonists go from children to adults in the span of a series.

Beka Cooper is a ‘puppy’. Essentially a police officer in training in the slums of a city where law enforcement is not always looked upon kindly. In a medieval (but not historical) setting, Beka discovers the pains of arresting those she grew up with and keeping order when laws aren’t always the easiest to enforce or agree with. Oh, and she can hear the spirits of the dead carried by pigeons. A masterful set of stories that would be brilliant as a TV show.

#3 – Old Kingdom Series, by Garth Nix

abhorsen-1abhorsen-2abhorsen-3abshorsen-3-5abhorsen-4abhorsen-5

While I feel that TV has had enough of zombies for a while, it certainly hasn’t had enough of necromancy! These books are set in a kingdom where electronics are useless, modern machine made products disintegrate, and necromancers raise the spirits of the dead for their own ends. With a magic system (The Charter) that works rather like a religion, and a main character who puts the dead to rest, this is a seriously creepy and compelling series. As the series moves on, different main characters are introduced – and they bring with them a really cool history and even more world-building.

With great VFX, this would be stunning on screen.

#4 – Deathless, by Catherynne Valente

deathless

This book was beautiful and disturbing. Because life is often both. A re-imagined Russian tale, it weaves Russian history with folklore to great success. The Czar of Life, Koschei the Deathless, is wonderful and terrible and Marya Morevna falls deeply in love with him. But as the war between life and death grows, their complex relationship is threatened – as is the strange life that Marya has come to love. This book is full of fantasy sequences more than at home in a fairy tale, and interesting side characters you’ll love learning about.

With the right actors, I can see the beautiful backdrops and heartbreaking scenes come to life. It would be brilliant.

#5 – His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman

hdm-1hdm-2hdm-3

Okay, so hear me out on this one. Everyone who read The Golden Compass and then went to see it in theatres knows what a botch-job it was. I had so much hope that it would be amazing but it just wasn’t. The religious influences were minimized so not to offend, which considering the whole thing is set in a parallel universe is ridiculous to me. Too much was compromised and it just didn’t work.

But imagine for a moment an adaptation with a script truer to the original source, and with enough time to accomplish truly telling the story. The rich settings would come to life with a colourful cast of characters just waiting to be discovered by new viewers. This show would have it all: a coming of age, drama, betrayal, witches, talking bears, and parallel universes! Best of all, it may actually be coming to a screen near you soon – though considering it’s a BBC collaboration with New Line (of the infamous Golden Compass film) I won’t hold my breath for a miracle.

So, there’s the books I’d most like to see as shows. Do you agree or disagree with any of my choices? Are there other books that you would rather see as TV shows?