Thursday, February 27, 2014

Book Review: Rapture, by Lauren Kate




Rapture
(Fallen #4)
Lauren Kate
Hardcover, 448 pages
Delacorte Press, June 12, 2012
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction


Book Synopsis:   The sky is dark with wings. . . .  Like sand through an hourglass, time is running out for Luce and Daniel. To stop Lucifer from erasing the past, they must find the place where the angels fell to earth.
 
Dark forces are after them, and Daniel doesn’t know if he can do this—live only to lose Lucinda again and again. Yet together they face an epic battle that will end with lifeless bodies . . . and angel dust. Great sacrifices are made. Hearts are destroyed.
 
And suddenly Luce knows what must happen. For she was meant to be with someone other than Daniel. The curse they’ve borne has always and only been about her—and the love she cast aside. The choice she makes now is the only one that truly matters. In the fight for Luce, who will win?
 
The astonishing conclusion to the FALLEN series. Heaven can’t wait any longer.



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12681104-rapture


http://www.amazon.com/Rapture-Fallen-Lauren-Kate/dp/0385739184/ref=sr_1_1_title_2_har?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1393477460&sr=1-1&keywords=rapture+lauren+kate
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rapture-lauren-kate/1105808559?ean=9780385739184
http://www.bookdepository.com/Rapture-Lauren-Kate/9780385739184




My Review

It's been more than a year since I read the third book in this series, Passion, so I felt somewhat disoriented as I began Rapture, which is the last in the series.  I was tempted to go back and reacquaint myself with the first three books, before going on with this one. But then I just decided to plunge in.

Luce's journey with Daniel in this book has a very worthy goal --  they must stop Lucifer before he completely erases the past 7,000 years, by going back to the original site of the angels' fall, in order to make sure that his plan does not succeed.

I was primed for the journey.  I was ready to immerse myself once more in this supernatural world, desperate to find Luce's curse lifted, which would permit her and her angel boyfriend, Daniel, to love each other freely.

The beginning of the novel was exhilarating, as the two young lovers, along with most of their friends from the previous books, set off on their quest.  They had to collect three ancient relics, bringing them together at the right time and place, in order to thwart Lucifer.  Daniel dispatches two groups in search of two of these relics -- one to Vienna, and one to Avignon, while he and Luce search for the third in Venice.  (I must inject a little digression here.....the text refers at first to "Avalon", which is, of course, a mythical place; the name is later corrected to "Avignon".  I wonder if any other readers have noticed this.)

Surprises and twists abound in this book, and ancient enemies suddenly turn into allies, while a new cast of characters is introduced -- the Scale, a group of angels whose main task is to make sure that certain rules are enforced, that a divine balance is maintained.  This should mean that they are part of "the good guys"; after all, they are on God's side.  I was shocked to discover that they really weren't that good.  Their actions were, instead, ruthless and cruel.  They flew about dressed in very black cloaks, which could be used to  constrict a captive's body.

This book moves very swiftly -- the writing flows inexorably; the pace is relentless.  The chapters dealing with Daniel and Luce's search are beautiful in scope, as well as touchingly sweet without being too much so.

There's plenty of action in this novel, as well, as the group of angels -- and demons -- on Daniel's side battle the Scale, who, incredibly enough, seek to stop them from fulfilling their quest.  In the process, Daniel, Luce, and "the gang" encounter a new character, Dee, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Miss Sophia, a villain from Fallen, the first book in the series.

I really liked Dee!  She was everything that Miss Sophia was not -- kind, sweet, loving, as well as brilliant, and very resourceful.  She immediately became the group's guide, leading them to the place where all three relics were finally united, and the answer to the location  of the angels' ancient fall was found.

Although the settings were beautifully described, and the plot action-filled, there were several things that, in the end, turned this book into a pretty disappointing read.

One of these was the characterizations, especially in regards to Luce.  Throughout the series, it's frequently repeated that she's the one most important person in this whole cosmic drama.  I would have expected that such an important person would have taken a greater lead in  this novel's events.  Instead, she basically flies around with Daniel and the rest of their group, and keeps getting rescued.  Her one great accomplishment is retrieving one of the relics from an underwater location.  She is also kept in the dark much of the time, until Dee tells her that it's time for her to 'wake up'. This is a veiled reference to Luce's true nature, which the reader discovers toward the end of the book.  I think that the author was also giving her readers a veiled message -- we must all wake up to our true nature.  This points to a decidedly New Age reference, as this is a frequently repeated axiom in New Age philosophy. 

This brings me to another problem I see with this book, and indeed, it's apparent from the very beginning of this series.  The evil characters are really not that evil, while some characters -- such as the Scale -- who should be good, really aren't.     

I had already felt some rumblings of discontent with the second book in the series -- Torment.  Aside from the slowness of the plot, I also objected to finding an angel and a demon having a romantic relationship.... Even if one is not religious, it should be obvious, from an entirely logical standpoint, that angels and demons are diametrically opposed, where ethics is concerned.  

The very fact that Daniel and his angel friends are "fallen" should point to another very obvious point: fallen angels are, in fact, demons.  These are two different names for the same entity, and they are used as synonyms in Christian tradition.  Yet, according to Kate, her fallen angels are actually angels who have not yet committed themselves to siding with either Heaven or Hell.  Again, this sounds totally absurd.  There are indeed gray areas in human affairs, but we are supposedly dealing with cosmic entities here.  In the grand universal view, there are no gray areas; evil is evil, and good is good. 

In fact, this series opens up a whole can of worms as to the nature of good and evil, even when one considers the so-called "gray areas".  When is a certain action really and truly evil?  I don't think that Kate takes a firm stand on this point.  She even goes as far as to justify an intrinsically evil action that takes place toward the end of the book, because of its supposedly beneficial consequences. This particular incident was so repulsive to me, I nearly stopped reading the book right then and there.

In addition to the above two objections, I think that Kate simply takes too many liberties with what is essentially a Christian worldview.  Perhaps I shouldn't judge her writing based on Christian standards; she does not market herself as a Christian writer, after all.  However, if an author is going to use concepts and iconography belonging to a certain spiritual tradition, then that writer should respect these concepts by presenting them as they were originally conceived in that tradition.  What's happening here is that Kate has imbued this novel -- as well as the entire series -- with New Age elements, which are superimposed on what initially appear to be Christian concepts, events, and characters.   

Of course, there's nothing wrong with lacing a novel with elements of New Age philosophy, if these are in line with the author's beliefs.  However, populating a novel with characters based on the Christian tradition, and having them act as if they were from a pagan tradition instead -- the ones in this novel resemble the supernatural beings from Greek mythology, for instance -- simply does not work.  Yet, some of the scenes in this novel have Christian settings, such as Mount Sinai, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

So why didn't Kate simply use settings from Greek mythology?  Why didn't she classify her characters differently -- as nymphs, satyrs, ancient gods and goddesses, as well as demi-gods and demi-goddesses?  Why didn't she mention places sacred to the Greek deities, such as Mount Olympus, olive groves, and underworld caves, instead?

Adding all this to the illogical reversal of good and evil, which really makes the characters come across as very morally ambiguous, even though they're angels and demons, created, for me, a highly uncomfortable reading experience in several passages throughout the novel.  Naturally, this would affect the characterizations, which were thus not as effective, in my opinion, as they could have been.

So, in spite of the wonderful writing style and deft plotting, in spite of my love for the characters -- especially Luce, Daniel, and Arriane -- I have to honestly say that I did not enjoy this book as much as I was expecting to.

One last thing that bothered me was the rather disappointing ending, which came across as too predictable, as well as entirely arbitrary.  The novel just didn't have to end the way it did; with all the glory of Heaven, and the sordidness of Hell, having been so imaginatively displayed, surely the author could have come up with something much more in keeping with the whole grandness of the plot.  

Besides, Luce and Daniel are given the alternative of choosing Love, instead of Heaven or Hell.  It's absurd for Love to be considered a third alternative!  Heaven is the domain of Love, according to the Christian tradition, because God is the Supreme Lover.  The God portrayed in this novel, however, doesn't seem to believe this.  Again, this God does not even resemble the one in the Christian tradition at all.  Kate has instead decided to present a deity who could have been lifted from any of the tales of Greek mythology.

One positive thing I can say about the series, however, is that it has sparked in me a great interest in the Watchers and Nephilim, which has stimulated a need to research such matters.

To sum up, I would have to say that I am very disappointed in this novel, and, in fact, it is making me re-evaluate the entire series, as well.  In spite of their classification as young adult fiction, I would instead recommend these books to adults, due to their spiritually confusing content. 

This novel would be perfect, I think, for readers who don't mind inconsistencies such as the ones I have pointed out above, and are willing to simply go along with the plot, enjoying the story as written.  For me, however, the spiritual inconsistencies, as well as that one evil event, made this novel a less than enjoyable reading experience.

 
MY RATING:







    




2 comments:

  1. Mmmm.... How awefully disappointing.
    I just read the first book and thought it was very promising for the series.
    And it was my first read about angels and demons in a long time because i too just cannot take the ridiculous inconsistencies and liberties authors seem to take. There are no words for how disappointing this is but I have to say "What a brilliant review"....well done here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Wendy!

      That's exactly how I'm feeling....

      I read the first three books, and especially liked "Fallen". But I really should have stopped there, because already Kate was taking liberties with the Christian elements. The fact that Daniel and Cam are labeled "fallen angels", but yet, are not evil, did bother me then. However, I found the love story so compelling, I went on to read the entire book.

      I was super excited to be starting "Rapture", but, as I got further and further into the book, the inconsistencies bothered me more and more. And then, the one EVIL event......if you read the book, or better yet, skim toward the end of it, you'll see what I mean.

      Thank you for the super nice compliment!! As you can see, I LOVE to review books! I love to analyze them, to point out the nuts and bolts of the story..

      Thanks as well for dropping by and taking the time to write such a nice comment!! : )

      Delete

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