Today is a first for this blog, and yet still a day we all knew was coming. This is the first time since I started tracking my reading here that I’ve reread a book I have already posted about. Five months is a bit shorter than usual for the time between readings, but there have been [rare] occasions when I finished a book and immediately reread it.
It was The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce to which I returned today. Since I last read it (August 25th, if you’re curious) I have acquired the rest of the trilogy, and today was simply the refresher of what this world is, and where I’ve left off. As you may have noticed, it is very unusual for me to read the new book in a series without first rereading its predecessors. Though again, not unheard of.
Now I am in a better position to appreciate how subtly and early Pierce laid the foundations for the climactic scene, calling back to elements of narrative she’d offered before. I suppose if one is reading more analytically than I tend to, you could have seen these things sooner. After all, why have a story within a story if it isn’t going to be significant in some way?
Both times I’ve read The Darkangel I’ve had this weird feeling. Sort of that I’m reading an awful young adult paranormal romance, but then I relax as I remember and re-experience the fact that this is simply a well written story of fantastical science fiction. Again, this is a book that is science fiction at its base – the world is a moon which was seeded with life long ago by people from the planet Oceanus, which hangs in the sky above. Of course, aside from the occasional reminders of this origin, the story reads more like a fantasy. The first time I read this, I compared it to Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern, which reads like a fantasy for the first several entries, despite the prologue describing why mankind colonized this distant planet.
As I sit here, on the verge of starting the next book in the trilogy (A Gathering of Gargoyles), I have to wonder if we’ll get into more 0f the underlying science, or if it will still read predominantly as a fantasy and a romance. For the record, romance is far from one of my favorite subjects, considering that I do not myself experience that attraction. I can tolerate it, and sex scenes, but heartily prefer that they contribute to and further the plot, rather than simply existing for the teeny-boppers and housewives to fantasize. In the case of The Darkangel, as it was for The Sun is Also a Star, the romance is central to the plot, so I am willing to allow it some leeway.
It still has to be a damned good book beneath the romance, or I won’t consider rereading it. Again, I do not read out of the romance section. That doesn’t mean I haven’t found myself reading books that would fit there if not for the fantasy (not usually sci-fi) elements, but it does tend to mean I’m a bit disgusted when I realize what I’m reading.
Let me reassure you, The Darkangel is a good book. It is what the paranormal romance books of today wish they were in quality. (The truth is, paranormal romance books wish they were a certain vampire quartet by a certain terrible author because said books and movie adaptations and fandom have made quite a tidy profit. Quality often falls by the wayside in books that are simply seeking to make a quick buck.) I wish more books would strive for this, and that we’d get fewer pieces of crap like Queen of the Tearling. Regardless, I’m looking forward to starting A Gathering of Gargoyles this evening. I may have to bring The Pearl of the Soul of the World with me tomorrow – just in case.