Heavenly Young Adult trilogy by acclaimed Spanish author
Remember my post yesterday? When I was writing about how and why I review other people’s books? Well, this is one of these authors I’m friends with online, and we read and review each other’s books. Olga’s read two of mine and this trilogy is my first read of her work. I’m now ahead by one book. She owes me.
This is one of the books I wouldn’t buy: Young adult, with angels and stuff, about girls in their teens (a horror to be sure), but when you’re handed a book to review, you don’t have much of a choice. So while this wouldn’t have been a book I’d pick up from AMazon or a book store, since it’s Olga’s, I read it anyway.
She split the story into three separate books, and just like with other books like “Lord of the Rings”, the middle one is a bit of a transport stretch from the beginning (where everything begins and you get to know the characters) to the third book (where it all climaxes.) This is always a daunting undertaking, and I’m not sure I would (then again, I haven’t written a story of such huge proportions. Yet.) Sure, you might squeeze a few extra cents out of your customers, and sell more, but the question remains, could this have been put out as one big work? I’m torn, because we all know that you’re not paid adequately for ‘extra’ volume these days. Readers moan and complain if it’s too thin and they complain if it’s too thick. So I’m following Olga’s experiment with some interest, and I hope she’s successful with it.
I’ve already reviewed parts 1 and 2 here on the blog, so today I’m just going through the overall impression of the book. Whether or not you’re into Young adult or not is not really important. This book is equally interesting to adults. Pink and her two friends are incredibly mature for their age, so you might easily (except their lives aren’t, as they’re still in school with parents at home) take them as adults. They rattle through films from the entire 20th century and are so social and well-educated that I sometimes wondered if such girls really exist. I haven’t met them personally, but I guess they must be out there. Heck, I was a geek when I grew up, and I still am. So there is plenty of substance in the book. Olga is a trained psychologist and has a PhD in Literature, so she has plenty to offer in terms of “chewy stuff”…
So what’s the story all about? Classic: good vs evil, but again, this isn’t your “in the face” clear-cut, black and white morality pancake. No, this is about shades of gray (no pun intended, as it’s sex free, except some innocent kissing), about the fact that in real life, good and evil are often interchangeable, hard to distinguish and – most importantly – a matter of perspective. Now Olga is brave, using God, Satan, angels and demons (aka fallen angels) to tell her story, and they all play a role, significant or not, particularly two angels, Azrael and Gregorius, one from heaven, the other from hell, playing each other for her “soul”. See, Pink is not just any girl, she’s the one who could literally alter the very foundation of heaven and hell. Not giving away anything, but obviously both parties have a vested interest in her, and they both play dirty (at the end of book 1, I rooted for the demon and disliked the angel, something Olga had me regret in book 2, only to… in book 3)
A religious book? Not really, and if you are evangelical and take the words of the bible literally, you’re in for a surprise and an education. I’m an atheist, and as such, the concept of angels and demons is as foreign to me as that of vampires and werewolves, or Frankenstein or Godzilla. How do they call it? Same shit, different packaging? So again, not something I’d read voluntarily. BUT, and this is important, Olga makes important points and the ending of the book lands such a punch, packs such a wallop, that I’m still reeling from it. What happened? Why? And what are the consequences?
I’ll be thinking about this book for a looooooong time. And I’ll have Azrael and Gregorius as mental companions from now on, their indecision, their longing to be more than just pawns in a game played by their superiors. I’ll be contemplating free will and its limitations and think about Pink’s destiny and the ending of the book (it will knock your socks off!)
This is without a doubt one of the most philosophically challenging and interesting stories I’ve read. Olga is extremely brave to put this out as a YA story. It is, mind you, totally PG-11, but the lessons, the real context might not be captured by kids. They’ll read a super exciting adventure story, with a female heroine (which is great btw, more of those are needed!), but it is adults who will get the most out of this book.
So go, read Angelic Business by Olga Núñez Miret. Available in English or Spanish from Amazon et al.
Totally worth it!
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