Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni
Published: March 26th 2013 by Viking Adult/Penguin
Source: local library
Synopsis: A New York Times bestseller and global sensation, Angelology unfurled a brilliant tapestry of myth and biblical lore on our present-day world and plunged two star-crossed heroes into an ancient battle against mankind’s greatest enemy: the fatally attractive angel-human hybrids known as the Nephilim. With Angelopolis, the conflict deepens into an inferno of danger and passion unbound.
A decade has passed since Verlaine saw Evangeline alight from the Brooklyn Bridge, the sight of her new wings a betrayal that haunts him still. Now an elite angel hunter for the Society of Angelology, he pursues his mission with single-minded devotion: to capture, imprison, and eliminate her kind.
But when Evangeline suddenly appears on a twilit Paris street, Verlaine finds her nature to be unlike any of the other creatures he so mercilessly pursues, casting him into a spiral of doubt and confusion that only grows when she is abducted before his eyes by a creature who has topped the society’s most-wanted list for more than a century. The ensuing chase drives Verlaine and his fellow angelologists from the shadows of the Eiffel Tower to the palaces of St. Petersburg and deep into the provinces of Siberia and the Black Sea coast, where the truth of Evangeline’s origins—as well as forces that could restore or annihilate them all—lie in wait.
Conceived against an astonishing fresh tableau of history and science, Angelopolis plumbs Russia’s imperial past, modern genetics, and ancient depictions of that most potent angelic appearance—the Annunciation of Gabriel—in a high-octane tale of abduction, treasure seeking, and divine warfare as the fate of humanity once again hangs in the balance.
My thoughts: I’ve been waiting for years for this sequel. I read Angelology when it was first published and I was first discovering the world of literature outside of realistic fiction and classics. It rocked my world. Perhaps my reading tastes and expectations have changed in the last three years, but Angelopolis did not live up to my expectations. It lacked the depth of story and lush description I’d so enjoyed in the first installment and was radically different in style. I still enjoyed it and will return for the final installment in the series, but I will not be waiting for it with bated breath.
In Angelology, Trussoni wove a story of fallen angels, the myth of Orpheus, musicology, Nazis, expeditions through Bulgarian mountains, art history, and the Rockefellers. It was an amazingly complex tale that was thrilling and engrossing. As someone who was raised Catholic and spent hours pouring over the strange books in my grandparents library on all aspects of the history of the faith, I’m still intrigued by Catholic mysticism even if I’m not particularly religious, so it was just my style. I thought the disparate elements that formed the world of Angelology were fascinating and obviously meticulously researched.
Angelopolis built upon this foundation but with a decidedly different structure. Though it added Fabergé eggs, the Romanovs, hidden prisons buried beneath nuclear reactors in Siberia, Noah’s Ark and the myth of the Great Flood, genetics, and alchemy into the mix, all action took place over the span of a few days, rather than the complex story-within-a-story framework that had so enticed me while reading Angelology.
The plot is fast-paced and read more like a thriller than the first installment. While I thought the comparison to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code was unfair when Angelology first came out, the sequel matches its style much more closely. Obviously they both have similar historical and religious based mystery plots, but the writing on the sentence level of Angelology was far superior. I’m not going to deny that Angelology has stiff and flowery prose—which I am a fan of though I know it doesn’t please every reader. But the writing in Angelopolis seems much simpler and streamlined in Angelopolis, which some readers might prefer, but I was disappointed when details were glossed over or Trussoni seemed in a rush to get to the action. In this way, the sequel is much more likely to please fans of Dan Brown than the first installment.
While all the elements of the story are fascinating—I was particularly interested in the Fabergé eggs and the connection between the Nephilium and the Romanovs—much of the information was conveyed through long, involved conversations rather than organically through the story. I often complain of the lack of world-building in favor of plotting in young adult fiction, but Angelology swings to the opposite end of spectrum. I could sum up what actually happens in this book in a matter of sentences and the rest of the story is all about explaining this intricate mythology.
I also thought the first installment was much more character driven than Angelopolis. Verlaine, the art historian turned angelologist, was much more endearing in the first installment, all befuddle and reluctant and hipster-y in his wingback shoes. Similarly, the naive but sharp nun Evangeline who charmed me in Angelology was cold and distant in this installment when she did appear (she’s absent for most scenes).
As for the secondary characters, I can’t say I cared about any of them as people; I’m only interested insofar as their knowledge explains the world and their actions move the plot. This is rather sad, because I think the novel would have been much more interesting had the motivations of the characters been further explored. Though it’s clear Verlaine is obsessed with Evangeline, I’m not convinced of the attraction or the hints of romance, and was completely dumbfounded by the ending.
The strengths of this story lie in the mythology and how historical details are used to build this alternate reality. It’s good, but not great.
Recommended for fans of:
- A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness for the rich historical detail, academic tone, and supernatural elements dressed up in literary fiction
- Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor for the angel mythology and lush description (honestly I like Daughter of Smoke and Bone better)
Rhapsody in Books: “These small quibbles that I had should not deter you from enjoying these fast-paced, intellectually-stimulating thrillers.”
Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile: “My one gripe, and this is the same one I had before, is that there is a large amount of descriptive writing that slowly bogs down the action. There are pages upon pages of historical information and angelic races. Although interesting in its own right, it does manage to pull the reader out of the overall mystery that surrounds the angels themselves.”