Monday, March 19, 2012

A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink

Pub date: March 20, 2012.

When her parents are murdered before her eyes, sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright finds herself launched into an underground London where a mysterious organization called the Dictata controls the balance of good and evil. Helen learns that she is one of three remaining angelic descendants charged with protecting the world's past, present, and future. Unbeknownst to her, she has been trained her whole life to accept this responsibility. Now, as she finds herself torn between the angelic brothers protecting her and the devastatingly handsome childhood friend who wants to destroy her, she must prepare to be brave, to be hunted, and above all to be strong, because temptation will be hard to resist, even for an angel. (

I have to say I'm less than impressed. My instant knee-jerk reaction was that I hated the voice. It read just far too stilted and contrived for my tastes and I initially wondered if I'd make it through the book based on that. I did. The roar of the tone leveled out for me and ended up being a dull throb right behind the eyes: not painful but manageable despite it being annoying. That same voice also lent itself to quite a few baited questions that seemed to scream at me from the pages. A lot of "whatever do you mean?"s going on. That type of thing. It stood out to me.

And really, for a story about angels, it's pretty lacking in, well, angels. You have the people that watch the angels who are human, the demon/wraiths that are, at most, glimpsed at and then you have the angels. The only way you can tell they're angels is because they can travel by light and you're told they're angels about eleven and a half million times. Other than that they show no defining characteristics of anything paranormal. Remove the word 'angel' and just leave them as human and it wouldn't have made a difference.

I was actually pretty disappointed by this. I went out of my comfort zone with A TEMPTATION OF ANGELS and while it didn't come close to the lulz category it was definitely flat compared to what I was expecting: in a story about angels, ANGELS. No wings, no ethereal glow, no halos, no crazy supernatural powers (aside from the light thing, which is kind of like Meg growing nails in a super hero family), nothing. I honestly don't know why they were pegged as angels other than to draw on the already dominant angel wave in YA. It just seemed really pointless and every time I finished a chapter without anything even remotely angelic going down I couldn't help but get disappointed.

Helen is a nice strong character that makes it to the end of the book pretty much on her own two feet and sticking it to the likes of Darius. Who is super awesome and with whom I sided from the beginning. We share non-existent patience levels. Darius's brother, whose name escapes me and for which I'm too lazy to look up was a puss (Griffin?). He was the "sensitive" one so it was only natural that Helen gravitated towards him. A TEMPTATION OF ANGELS gets points for its lack of love triangle though. It's insinuated that there is one but that's not really true. So kudos there.

The ending was a bit of flash bang, not too much going on throughout most of the story until the culmination of information and events at the end. FINALLY we get to see some semblance of the paranormal but it's over before it begins and don't expect to see any angels.

The whole alternate world kind of bothered me for its lack of presence. It's set in Victorian London but there's supposed to be this alternate side of wraiths and angels and funky globe things. But aside from that weird globe and some seemingly crazy stories, there isn't much going on in terms of other world. I feel shafted in that regard. I was looking for something more substantial but instead what I got was an historical fiction revised to fit a more popular supernatural angle. Seriously, remove all aspects of the paranormal and the story really wouldn't change.

It's not that I didn't like it. I found it entertaining enough to keep reading but it felt like ice cream without milk: missing something. The historical aspect of A TEMPTATION OF ANGELS is more of a driving force than anything paranormal so that should appeal to a lot of people. Just don't go in expecting a lot of supernatural stuff. You're not going to find it.

Ban Factor: Medium - Because of its actual low level of paranormal influence I can see this skating under the banner radar. At the same time playing with angels like this, even though they're not really angels (unless you count being told they're angels), still has the potential to ruffle banner feathers.
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