If Reisz wanted to hit her readers with a bit of shock and awe, she succeeded with this one. I was more shocked than awed. I enjoyed reading The Siren
, the first in the Original Sinners
series, because I thought the story was good and there was a central focus. With The Angel, not so much. I felt the story was all over the place, allowing for information to be revealed about every character in the book. I think I understand why this was done, but it didn’t add to my further comprehending anything.
I liked The Angel
as a whole, since it held my attention, but I have a few issues. First, the story lacks an engaging plot. Meaning, I didn’t find myself enraptured by the tale, wanting to know more, needing to understand what was happening and why. I got through the novel easily, as Reisz does know how to pull together words effectively. I just didn’t get what the point of the story was. Was the story supposed to focus on Michael and his finding himself and figuring out what he wants in life? Or, was Sören’s and Nora’s relationship the focus of the book, considering the background info we’re given? I think I enjoyed the secondary storyline featuring Suzanne and her ex more than what happens with the main characters. I wanted to know what drove Suzanne and why she felt she needed to be a champion for abused youth in the Catholic Church. I think there was a purpose to Suzanne being in the story, aside from the obvious info dump about Sören and his background.
Second, I know this is fiction. I understand what that means and how fantasy plays in the role of pulling readers into a book. But I have to feel the characters and situations are somewhat realistic, otherwise I spend my time rolling my eyes. The characters in this book are all ridiculously beautiful and hang with the ridiculously beautiful having ridiculously wonderful sex with no consequences. I’m not entirely convinced this world exists, hence my reluctance to be ensconced in the novel completely. I’m not drawn into the fantasy because it seems too fantastic to be real. Yes, the characters have flaws and Michael isn’t rich, but he’s the only one. If the point is this lifestyle is indulged in by the rich and famous, but the beautiful can get in on the action too, then I get it. Sort of.
Third, I’m not sure if Reisz is being genuine in conveying her characters convictions to her readers. Sören is a priest, and being sexually active, I would expect him to feel something about essentially reneging on his vow of celibacy. I agree with Nora’s mother when she brings up the point of his knowing what he was getting into when he became a priest. So, why now does he turn his back on a vow with no feelings of remorse? I’m not saying it isn’t possible to do both—because it is—but as a person of faith, you’re supposed to put God first. When you don’t, there is some sense of remorse, and the conscience goes into overdrive. At least in my experience. I’m curious if Reisz is poking fun at Catholicism or if she’s merely pointing out and exploring a flaw. I'm probably reading too much into it, but I analyze everything I read because I want to understand. Either way, I remind myself this is fiction and the author has free reign to do what she pleases with her characters. I only hope she keeps in mind some readers are affected by what they read in various ways—which could range from mild interest to utter obsession.
Finally, the glossing over of infractions the characters commit is worrisome. It’s possible Reisz is weaving this world around the Original Sinners
so they remain untouched by those outside of their universe. Not only do they get away with things they seemingly shouldn’t, there’s an overshadowing of manipulation in almost every situation created in this book. I’m not infatuated with the male and female protagonist as most readers are because of this. Nora and Sören manipulate others as well as each other. It may appear innocent and comedic, but I wonder how this adds or takes away from their relationship. It feels contradictory to me (as do other aspects of the novel) and I wonder if this is intentional. The Angel
marks the end of my foray into Reisz’s world. I enjoyed the love story in The Siren
(with reservations) but I can’t get behind The Angel
as a piece of literary work I must re-read or recommend. It was interesting, yet outside of my comfort zone. I’m not sure where the series will go from here and I’m OK with this being the final stop on the Original Sinners
tour.I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher for an honest review.