Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Trinity Stones (Angelorum Twelve Chronicles #1) by L.G. O'Connor

Cara was an investment banker and her main problems in life were a misogynist boss she hated and the fact her love life consisted of dreaming of Kai, her married best friend.

Then she received an odd letter from her grandmother. It opens a world of vast wealth, a whole new home – and angels. Angels and Nephilim and gifted humans whose job it is to prevent the long banished fallen angels, the demons, from wreaking havoc on Earth. She has been called to serve as one of these gifted people and is part of a sacred prophecy, the first of the 12, leading up to an epic battle for the very sake of humanity.

And she meets Simon – sexy, suave, rich, sophisticated and secretly her Guardian in disguise – and forbidden to her.

Oh, I am torn over this book. Well, kind of.

On the one hand, I am fascinated with the concept and world of this book. The Trinities, the three supernatural agents, each with their own niche (which I’m not sure of) and powers (which I have a rough idea of but not entirely) and role, all focused on a centre stone who is important (in some ill-defined way which may be different for each Trinity, though I’m not sure if every trinity has a centre stone?). The ability to gain insights into this future by examining the stones (something I didn’t entirely understand but got the gist of) is a wonderfully teaser way of driving the story. The constraints of free will (which I think they broke a few times but could use more explaining) makes for a nice little twist in both motivation and limits. Then there’s the unaffiliated Nephilim and the Seeker families that both suggest a wider world, activity and involvement beyond the Trinities (but this isn’t expanded upon leaving much up for grabs)

And, of course, there’s a prophecy. I know, I know, clich├ęd but a good prophecy always adds power and texture to a nice apocalyptic story – and this, with its prophecy of 12 possible chosen ones (chosen for what, why and how I do not know) suggests a nice, long, slow build to an epic finale. On top of that we have a huge, ill-defined history full of ill-defined factions that may or may not be relevant today.

The world has so much in it that I want to explore every part of it- because I can feel there is so much here. And all this world building has been presented in a way that makes me interested, which is impressive and speaks volumes for the world since it was presented in a series of info-dumping (albeit, it doesn’t reflect so positively on the writing).

The dog’s also special somehow. I kind of gave up expecting answers by then.

And the problem? Well, if you look above you can probably guess my problem – everything is vague and unfinished – the characters didn’t ask nearly enough questions to fill in the gaps, and they were questions that should have been asked and would have been asked. For most of the book I actually thought Cara was the Centre Stone of the Trinity (we’re talking the last 20% when I realised I was wrong). Everything is suggested but nothing is defined!

So what do we have instead. Romance. And a romance that just made so little sense to me and had some belated and (surprise surprise) ill-defined woo-woo taped on top of it to justify it.

First, let’s take our protagonist Cara. She is single when she starts the book but unlike so many Paranormal Romances, this breaks the mould by not having her be “Gently Used” or only had unsatisfactory relationships in the past. She had a wonderful relationship with Kai. 7 years ago. She now obsess about this relationship, dreams about him and waits hopefully for the day he will come back to her – he’s her best friend, is married and has a small child, but she’s still living in hope. More than slightly creepy desperation isn’t a good look on anyone.

But then in come Simon/Chamuel. He’s the Nephilim of the Trinity and, of course, there’s a rule that says members of the same Trinity shall not have wild monkey sex. Because Reasons. Naturally, with such a rule, Simon takes one look at Cara and falls head over heels in love, because she trips once and he stops her falling. That’s it, thousands of years of tradition, his own tragic history and a century of celibacy and a dire, horrendous punishment are all banished by Cara and her clumsy tripping. Of course, this causes lots of angsty conflict and Simon decides to address this by dating Cara – and not telling her who she is. As the Nephilim Guardian he spends all the time protecting her by hanging around invisible and then lying to her so she doesn’t realise Simon-she-is-dating and Chamuel-who-is-invisibly-watching-her-every-move are both the same person.

This guy is 200 years old and actually thought this was a good idea.

This all leads to all kinds of angst, emotion and drama llamas that manage to completely get in the way of the climactic battle but all gets kind of sorted out when Cara apologises to Simon for… I have absolutely no freaking clue. But she apologises for, I don’t know, being angry about the lying/stalking/mission jeopardising/risking dire punishments thing?

There’s also a guy she decides to have breakfast with and flirt with for… I have no idea, I suspect he’s a random insert from the next book.

Riiiight. Moving swiftly on. Cara has 2 friends – Sienna, her BFF who the Blissed Out Exposition Woman (her name is Constantina. All she does is drop exposition and call everyone “dear one” in a kind of blissed out, super-patient, patronising way that suggests she’s got her hands on the really good weed) for reasons that are still unknown at the end of the book decides simply must come along on the great advanture. And Michael, he’s another member of the Trinity and his job is to… do… something. Communicate with angels, apparently, but since Hippie Exposition Lady is an angel and has a mobile phone, it seems a little redundant. Anyway, they both exist to hate each other for REASONS, so we get endless pages of unnecessary childish bickering between Sienna and Michael. As an added, oh-so-fun bonus, everyone assumes Michael is gay because of gross and repeated stereotyping (he isn’t) and he decides this is the worst insult in the world ever and hisses in rage every time someone suggests he’s gay. Sienna, being the mature woman she is, calls him it as an insult repeatedly. As an extra special bonus because there just wasn’t enough homophobia, one of the other random Nephilim (they appear towards the end of the book and are the first nod to racial diversity in the whole novel, they have names. They’re Nephilim. Behold characterisation.) chides Sienna for “questioning Michael’s manhood.” Lovely. In the face of this pretty constant, nasty homophobia I’m pretty glad the author didn’t bother to include an actual LGBT character.

Both Anna and Sienna suffer from Anxiety which could be an interesting development of a disabled character. But it just seems to manifest in two random panic attacks that are over quickly and swiftly ignored. It’s almost like they were suddenly inserted than anything.

Also, this book ALMOST breaks the L.A. Banks record for the longest sex scene in history (though there is a lot of random talking through it and even a vision, I think) it goes on for 3 chapters.

So, in the end? In the end I’d still kind of like to know what’s going on. There’s hints of a fascinating world here once we actually get Constantina to wake up and describe it a little more, or for Cara to pay more attention and not be so focused on her train wreck of a love life. On the world and story, it could rank decently – but only if every single character were taken out back and quietly (or noisily, I don’t mind) put out of my misery and a whole new cast were imported to actually tell this story and experience the world building

Alas, this didn’t happen and they all gathered together to do their utmost to annoy me.