Format: Audio (Electronic from Library)
Narrated By: Josephine Bailey
Original Publication Year: 2006
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical
Series: Gemma Doyle Trilogy # 2
Rebel Angels continues the story of Gemma Doyle and her quest to free herself and her friends from the bonds of authority and society’s strictures. Most of the action in this second volume of the series takes place over the Christmas holiday while Gemma, Felicity and Ann are in London. Gemma’s (and really all the girl’s) family problems are more front and center and complicate Gemma’s decision making. The book centers on a quest – to find “the temple” – and the book is filled with vague riddles meant to be clues that VERY slowly lead Gemma to her destination.
As I feared, this book was not nearly as good as book one. I still enjoyed it for the most part but there was a lot more eye-rolling. The main problem is that the narrative is much more forced. Without the need to set up the characters, relationships and the setting, which I think made the first book work so well, the book must be much more plot driven and it is done quite lazily. This is exacerbated by the fact that it is almost 150 pages longer then book one when it could have been easily shorter. By forced narrative I mean that the author has mutated their character(s) in an unnatural way to make the plot work. Frequently this means making them dumb and when it is not the first time I’ve met the character it is especially glaring. There are a lot of “mysteries” which I figured out about 200 pages before Gemma and Gemma, inexplicably, begins to rely much more heavily on her “friends” very faulty judgment and ignores the only non-biased advice she gets, i.e. “Trust No One”. The Order’s approach to Gemma doesn’t make a lot of sense and the Rakshana have turned from what might have been an interesting murky organization into straight up mustache-twirling villains who like to kill young girls. There was also a lack of continuity with book one. Why did Gemma’s mother instruct that Gemma be sent to Spence Academy if something happened to her when that seems to be the place at which her enemies could mostly easily find her and influence her? One of the characters from book one turns out to not be what they seemed and by doing so makes much of their actions in book one nonsensical. It all seemed very sloppy to me.
The biggest problem however is that the characters begin to morph into flat and unlikeable girls. As I mentioned much of Gemma’s likeability is sacrificed to make the story work. Gemma’s “friends” are no longer believable as her friends. While Gemma may have gained some wisdom from the happenings in Book 1, her friends have not and if anything seem even more intent on their own agendas and in using Gemma to get what they want. They do this blatantly and also blame Gemma for everything that goes wrong even though they share very much if not more in the blame. Despite this Gemma seems totally reliant on them, will not enter the realms without them and abandons her own good judgment and instincts to bend to their poor judgment. This ends up helping to significantly undermine Gemma as a character. Anne and Felicity are no longer complex and interesting – they are just horrible. I hope book three sees Gemma starting to rely on herself more and Anne and Felicity finally growing up but I don’t hold out much hope. It also looks like the lack of plotting discipline will continue as book three is a whopping 250 pages longer than book two.
With all that griping why would I continue to book 3? Because book one was so good, that I need to see it through to the end. And I am probably much harsher on this book then it deserves, mostly, because I came to expect something based on book one that is not carried through in this sequel.
Final Verdict: Disappointing but still a moderately engaging read.