Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Review: Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh

You know what I've been thinking about as I started this post? Lucky, I didn't start an Olympics blog, LOL. I mean, I've been watching the Olympics religiously, but I don't have much to say except for a lot of Yay! and Awww! However, I have to say that CTV definitively has an excellent coverage of the Games :)

Anyway, the book I'm going to review today is Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh. I'm a huge fan of Nalini Singh, but I thought Angel's Blood was so-so only. I still got Archangel's Kiss, but I'm not sure I would have picked it up any time soon if Ames hadn't enjoy it that much :)

Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh
published by Berkley in February 2010
Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux wakes from a year-long coma to find herself changed—an angel with wings the colors of midnight and dawn—but her fragile body needs time to heal before she can take flight. Her lover, the stunningly dangerous archangel Raphael, is used to being in control—even when it comes to the woman he considers his own. But Elena has never done well with authority...

They’ve barely begun to understand each other when Raphael receives an invitation to a ball from the archangel Lijuan. To refuse would be a sign of fatal weakness, so Raphael must ready Elena for the flight to Beijing—and to the nightmare that awaits them there. Ancient and without conscience, Lijuan holds a power that lies with the dead. And she has organized the most perfect and most vicious of welcomes for Elena...

Genre: Urban Fantasy/paranormal romance
Series: Guild Hunter, Book #4 (counting novellas)

The Story: Elena has woken up for her year-long coma and finds herself confined to the Refuge, the sanctuary for angels kept secret from the humans. However, the biggest surprise for Elena is the nice pair of wings now attached to her back. After the events of Angel's Blood, Elena has become the first human transformed into an angel... well, a baby angel. Now, Elena has to adapt to her new life - not only how to cope with being an angel and immortal, but being Raphael's lover... and she has to do so quickly, since she is viewed as Raphael's weakness and thus, a target. This is why Lijuan, the oldest of the archangels, has organized a ball to meet Elena... However, there is more to look out for as an angel has decided to ascend to the title of archangel...

My Opinion: I really enjoyed Archangel's Kiss!! I thought it had a solid storyline, backed up with very interesting characters :) Much better than Angel's Blood as a whole for me :) 

I think the reasons why Archangel's Kiss worked better for me is the world building. In Angel's Blood, Ms Singh had to introduce a very intricate and complex new world - angels, vampires, hunters, etc. and while I liked the world building, it was just too much information. In Archangel's Kiss, Ms Singh is able to focus more on the angels aspect which in turn, allows her to focus more on the relationships and the plot. I mean, it's still a lot of information about the angels, but at least, it's mostly only about them :)

What really won me in Archangel's Kiss was the plot - the mystery. LOL, I like political intrigues in court and this is a little bit what is happening in this book with an angel wanting to ascend to the title of archangel and trying to have his/her way :) The whole "who is it?", "who dares doing that in my territory" and steering up troubles between two parties to start a fight/battle/war... I like it and I thought it was cleverly done :) It was interesting and it makes sense for Elena to be the middle of all of it. The scenes where Elena is learning about angels and training were very interesting as well and they just fit the storyline. My favorite is when Elena went to class with the little ones LOL. So cute!! I can so imagine Sam and his wings hanging on the floor!

While I enjoyed the angel becoming archangel's plot, I thought Lijuan's ball plot was superfluous. I think that Ms Singh could have developed the angel becoming archangel's plot more. Actually, she had enough for it to be the whole plot for Archangel's Kiss and it would have been great! Don't get me wrong, I think that the idea of the oldest archangel organizing a ball to meet Elena - that was a good idea too, with lots of potential and it could have continued the political intrigues. The problem was the execution. I think that the whole angel becoming archangel plot totally overshadowed the ball. Here, Ms Singh had the opportunity of write another very elaborate and intriguing plot, but she let go of the opportunity. I mean, Raphael and Elena don't head to China before what the last fifth of the book? I thought Lijuan's ball was going to be a wowzer, but it ended up being disappointing ;( I actually think that Ms Singh could have turn Lijuan's ball into a whole book. Ah well.

As for Raphael and Elena, well I liked them better in this book which is good. The book focused on them a lot more. It's interesting to see them get to know each other and how their relationship is developing. Too bad it's always in a hurry with so many things happening around them. I have to say, the first few chapters focusing on them were a bit boring... It seems to me Raphael is pushing and trying to establish himself as super alpha while Elena is like, no we'll be equals. Still, I like the dynamics of the couple and I'm looking forward to their relationship developing even more. When they'll really understand each other.

Once again, there were a lot of characters introduced. I liked learning more about the archangels. They're very varied and interesting as well as complex characters. We also get to meet the last ones of Raphael's Cadre of Ten. Once again, I think that Ms Singh tries too much to write "bad-ass" characters... they all seems sociopaths to me! I understand the world is a big and bad, but it'd be nice to see some people that are genuinely nice...

Oh, one last thing I found annoying was Elena's family storyline. I haven't been a fan of it in the first book and still not a fan of it in this book. In Archange's Kiss, Elena is recovering some of memories regarding the murders of her sisters and mother due to her transformation from human to angel. Problem is, I'm still not interested in re-visiting her past. I'm much more interested in her new life as an angel. I know that it was the tragedy that shaped up Elena, but we already know the big lines no? I guess that Ms Singh has a bigger plans for this storyline in the future... I hope so.

Overall though, I was totally engrossed in Archangel's Kiss and really enjoyed it. For the world, for the characters, but especially for the plot which I thought was very, very interesting :) It's a good thing too because I told myself I'd be deciding whether I want to continue this series or not after reading Archangel's Kiss. Well I'm continuing :D

My Grade: B++. Better, but not perfect yet :P