Thomas Sniegosky: Fallen & Leviathan, Books 1 & 2 of the Fallen series
It’s… fine? Yes, they’re fine. The books are fine. They were readable. I was able to get through both the first two novels in the series (published together in one binding for some reason) without wanting to stab the nearest person or my own eyes. Sometimes that’s the most you can ask for in a book, right?
Aaron Corbett is turning 18 years old and can understand everything. Not in that sense that teenagers think they understand the whole world because no one is smarter than they. No, Aaron literally understands everything, from the hot girl in school speaking Portuguese to his psychiatrist reading random Latin from a book to his slobbery rescue dog. His foster parents (oh, did I mention that he was an orphan who never knew his parents?) have a nonverbal autistic son who starts to communicate with him little by little one day. Then there’s this smelly old hobo dude who just won’t leave him alone. That’s when Aaron learns of his true nature: Nephilim, half-human and half-angel. It sounds pretty cool, but not everyone agrees. There is, for example, a really angry angel with a flaming sword who is very intent on ridding the world of every half-breed abomination he can find before the ~chosen one~ destined to reunite the fallen with their heavenly home can do so.
Then some stuff happens.
When the series was released a few years ago, the four books of the series were paired up into two Omnibus novels, so The Fallen 1 is actually two books, which is what I’m count it as because screw you, self-imposed CBR goal! In the first, Aaron struggles to accept his role in this old-as-shit prophesy and his angelic-bastard nature. Spoilers: He does, and there’s a second book that follows. The basic premise of book 2 is “one and a half angels and a dog go on a road trip.” Junky hijinks ensue.
Part of me wants to pick up the second half of this series, because I genuinely am interested in what happens, but that would require slogging through another 500 words of adequate prose for a story I can probably predict. Sniegosky’s writing is just… fine. There are times when it’s too expository, and he’s occasionally guilty of doing that thing of using the ~fancier word or phrase when a simple, straightforward one would do and it being so blatant. I even noticed an editing error two-thirds of the way. He keeps referring to his Aaron’s high school crush as “the pretty Brazilian girl” when he gets tired of using her name, and it made me uncomfortable every single time. Aaron Corbett himself is kind of flat and boring as a character, and his dog sidekick shows more personality than he does at times. Book 1 was understandably more of an origins story than anything, but it’s amazing how little actually happens in the span of those 300 pages. Book 2 was little improvement. Aaron kept noticing things and wondering, gee, I wonder if this is all related to my friend disappearing and the weird mutant animal hybrids, and EVERYTHING ELSE HAPPENING. (Aaron isn’t that smart a boy.) It reminded me of the TV movie and series adapted from the books in the days of Fox Family past. Each installment actually felt like it could fill an hour-long episode of TV and little more. Damn, that’s, like, hella slow.
I heartily wish this book was better—better-written, better-paced—because I love this kind of stuff. I have a thing for religiousy apocalypse stories and angels and Judeo-Christian mythology and free will and the good and evil of humanity. It’s not that often I come across something that speaks to this interest and is actually good, but hey, if you want to read it, go ahead. You’re a grown-ass adult (unless you’re not, in which case, sorry for all the swearing on my blog). Do what you want. It was an easy enough read to consume in little time. If you liked Maze Runner, this one might be right up your alley.
If you want something better than just okay with a reasonably interesting premise, though, I have a few alternate suggestions. As far as Chosen One stories go, the Harry Potter series is an obvious one. The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is another one of my favorites, better written and just downright fun (but above all costs avoid the horribly narrated audiobook version). Crap Kingdom cheekily turns the trope on its head. And if you want a break from reading words on a page, just check out the first five seasons of “Supernatural.” I’m not kidding. Religious beings, prophecies and Chosen Ones, myths and monsters, and wise-cracking pretty boys who are both afraid of their feelings and talk more about them than anyone I know.