Note: I received a free copy of this book from Online Book Club in exchange for an honest review. You can check out both the novel and other reviews here.
But Beauty is the cruellest gift the gods bestow. With it, you are everything to everyone, even if you are nothing to yourself.
Angel is the story of Damion, a boy who is so beautiful that everybody falls in love with him. This, his greatest advantage in life, gradually turns into his heaviest burden and so as he reaches adulthood, Damion, in an act half wanton, half heroic, destroys what for most people – but not for him – has come to define his essence. – A classic tale of a young man in search of his destiny.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this novel. Was it a coming of age tale? Was it a fantasy? It seemed to possess traits of many genres, and this both scared and excited me. But after reading it, I can say that I was pleasantly satisfied with this unique and quiet story.
What makes this book stand out is Michael’s concepts. The idea of beauty, the question of whether it is a gift or a curse is a theme found throughout the ages because it’s something we can all relate to. We have all had at least one experience where we feel a lack of beauty within ourselves, or perhaps a resounding amount of it, and it hinders us. We ask ourselves if we are treated this way because we are beautiful, or we are judged because we are not beautiful enough. Everyone has dealt with this societal pressure.
Not only this, but Michael frequently asks the reader to think about the true meaning of love. And as Damion stops and wonders what love he has in his life, we do the same. He talks about familial love, strong but silent as it is. And he explores the concept of sex, and how it isn’t equated to love. How some loves are more pure because they haven’t been yet tainted by sex. It’s such an intriguing concept, and one that’s really relevant in our time. There’s a very real pressure when it comes to sex. If you experience it too soon, you’re a slut. If you experience it too late, you’re a prude. Micheal is able to talk to his readers about these struggles in a very raw and honest way. One that makes you sit back and sigh, comforted that you aren’t alone.
The honesty in Angel is what struck me most. Whether it was Damion himself you related to, or one of the many secondary characters, you could easily place yourself in someone’s shoes because each was as human as the next. As you read, you’re reminded of people you know. You remember younger days and imagine older ones all at once. Michael’s ability to transport his readers into someone else’s mind is what I must applaud him on most.
However, while the concepts and many of the secondary characters were very enjoyable, there were some aspects of the book I wasn’t a fan of. The writing style itself, while sometimes beautifully poetic, other times simply felt drawn out and confusing. Many sentences contained so many commas that you lost the meaning of what was being said. The use of multiple languages was a nice touch, but unfortunately if you do not speak French or Italian, you might be needing Google Translate for a few small parts.
The beginning of the book dragged. I found myself at multiple points asking where the story was going, or what the story even was. But about halfway through, Angel picks up and continues to speed along until the ending.
The ending is when we really get a glimpse into our protagonist. Up until this point, we see things from every other character’s perspective, never his. And while this was a remarkably intriguing choice, it was a dangerous one. It left us feeling a lack of empathy towards Damion because in truth, we don’t know him. The last 30 or so pages are perhaps the best because we finally see that he is not just a spoiled child who is adored for his beauty. We get to see his thoughts and his emotions, and I think had they been revealed to us sooner, the ending would have had more of an impact.
I read that Angel has been compared to The Picture of Dorian Gray, but I believe this is an inaccurate comparison. We are able to watch Dorian Gray transform from a young and innocent boy to a corrupt and, many would say, evil man. Dorian seeks to sate his desires, he has a darkness and a thrilling edge. Damion, however, tends to stray away from his lusts, and as we don’t get to truly know him until the end, it’s impossible to know the amount of good, or evil, in his soul.
All in all, Angel was a quiet but interesting story. And while I probably wouldn’t read it again, I would recommend it to someone looking for something fresh and different. I give it 3/5 stars. Michael’s talent for raw honesty is beautiful, but Damion lacks too much as a protagonist to completely envelop us in the story.
Be sure to check out the novel, along with other reviews here at Online Book Club!