Travel Documents 14: The Angel of Pride

The Angel of Pride (The Archangels Series Book 1)

Yasmin Hawken
Genre: Dystopian, romance, thriller

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The Dust Cover Copy

Seattle

A city where orphanages overflow with children abandoned by parents too poor to keep them. The Seraphim Network does what it can to shelter children from the economic storm that surrounds them. That is, until kids start going missing.

Shaw is one of the Network’s elite agents. When one of the orphans goes missing, he has a mystery on his hands. When the paperwork adds up to nothing, and the trail goes cold, he’s forced to draw on all his training and skills to save a child’s life.

Isabel has been fighting to climb the ladder. Fed up with being poor, her entire life revolves around work. That is, until she meets Shaw and gets drawn into the madness of his life. Can she put love before work? Or will her entire world fall apart?

The Deets

The Scene

Worldbuilding

Based on and extrapolating from current technology, Pride follows the dictum that ‘the future is here, it’s just unevenly distributed.’
The idea that morally grey special-ops companies will rise and become just as legitimate as any other sector of the economy isn’t all that far fetched, and the direction immersive or Augmented Reality technology will take is also completely realistic. The fact that people bend the regulations that should have prevented fraternization is a given, when you know human nature. And the grinding exhaustion of poverty is something too many of us will commiserate with.

The Crowd

Characterization

There is a wealth of character work and interpersonal connection in the story. I was impressed with the distinct and interesting personality each character was given. Large casts can be difficult to manage in a story, but Hawken nailed it. Nicely multifaceted people emerge in this story: Shaw, the battle-ready special operative who is also a proud Catholic and a volunteer at the local orphanage. Haven, the conflicted soul striving to be a decent man. The Seraph, who reminds us all that our bosses are human beings regardless of their facade. Helena, who enacts the Greek tragedy of bad decisions made for reasons that seemed good at the time. And scrappy Isabel, who will not be broken no matter how hard she’s knocked down.
I enjoyed the strong sense of connection and conflict between characters, and was impressed by the fact that each social connection had its own dynamic. Again, hard to keep going in a large cast, but completely worth it when it works. The Archangels make a great found family.

We’re allowed to see the story through the eyes of each major character, including the antagonists, and this encouraged the sense of a world painted in shades of grey where many decisions must be made in the hope that they will turn out to be right.

I had one major issue: a little bit too much backstory was laid out as exposition, and it occasionally felt a touch forced. But the irritation was minor.

The Lingo

Writing Style

Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way: this book could have used one more pass with a proofreader. The issues are minor but niggling: misplaced words, occasional mistaken punctuation and word choice that could have been improved.

The tone is natural and engaging, drawing readers into a believable character dynamic and an interesting world. That’s what makes the typos such a shame: they pull the reader out of the flow.

The work is fairly trope-heavy in its genre, using classic dystopian archetypes: teen coder who never cleans up after himself. Muscled repair guy. Cocky special agent. Striving disadvantaged kid trying to rise. But they’re fleshed out and kept interesting. The conventions are also classic, but used with skill. Solid work went into describing sensations and surroundings.

The Moves

Plot

Much of the plot revolved around the conflict between the personal and professional lives of the characters, and that worked as a source of interest fairly well. Problem was, that tension didn’t quite come off, and it gave a split-personality sensation to the plot. The story was designed with fairly fast sections of mission action broken up by long and sometimes leisurely passages of interpersonal action, building romance, intrigue and a found-family dynamic. Both sets of scenes worked well by themselves. But reading a fast and terse scene followed by a slow-moving and dialogue-heavy scene had the same effect on my mind as slamming the brakes on while driving. It smoothed out as the story went on, but man was it jarring. I would have liked to see the characters reflect more on how odd it felt to be off-duty. Some work was done in this direction with a fired operative (no spoilers) jonesing for the adrenaline hit of a job, but I still felt that disconnect between scenes.

I occasionally felt that the story had forgotten its genre and was becoming a drama/romance with strong situational elements, and that irked me a little. But it worked in the end.

What kept me going was my liking for the characters, but I did find myself checking Facebook between chapters as my own way to adjust from high-speed to low-gear scenes. For less dedicated readers, that could be a point when the book gets dropped.

 

Overall Rating

A fun read that’s worth picking up. Give it a go!