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A book review by Steven Wu
February 08, 2005
|Rating: 2 (of 10)|
In truth, the world of Archangel Protocol is pretty nifty. After a series of disastrous wars, secular government has lost all credibility, and organized religion has taken over. Then a group of seemingly divine beings begin appearing on the future equivalent of the Internet, the LINK, which is hard-wired into people's brains; these LINK angels seem capable of tapping directly into people's emotions and are, by all scientific measurements, immensely powerful. Deidre McMannus is a policewoman who has had her LINK access revoked by the Church because of her role in her former partner's attempted assassination of the Pope. Since she can't do official business, she gets by with some lowly gumshoe work. Then a hunky, "olive-skinned" man named Michael comes asking for her help. As the genre demands, some mad loving ensues.
As I said, the science-fiction elements of this book aren't so bad. It's clear, though, that Morehouse's attention isn't focused on them. While there are a few neat details dropped here and there--the Medusa bombs, for one--a lot of the setting is fairly sketchy. Morehouse also imports quite a bit of stock science fiction elements, like mechanized armor for urban warriors. The result is a fairly limp background to what turns out to be a very silly story.
The most serious flaw of Archangel Protocol is how amateurishly it is written. Right from the beginning, Morehouse engages in exposition that is trying just too hard not to be exposition; she gives us clippings of news articles that are written in an entirely unconvincing faux news style; there's a lot of bad dialogue; and for inexplicable reasons, she has characters think the most inappropriate thoughts at the most inappropriate moments, e.g., in the midst of a serious firefight, Deidre thinks, "Between the bullet hole in the hall and the smashed door, there was no way I'd be getting my security deposit back for this place."
The inevitable romance between Deidre and Michael is also pretty lame. It becomes very apparent to any moderately attentive reader exactly what kind of being Michael is. (His name is Michael, for God's sake.) Deidre takes a hell of a lot longer to catch on though, making the first half of the book really drag. Then Deidre spends the second half unconvincingly swinging between worrying about her life, and worrying about her relationship to this big hunky not-quite-a-man. There's also some weird Messiah stuff that's thrown in, seemingly as a way to complicate their relationship.
I really shouldn't go on, though I easily could. (For instance, there is a stunningly dumb scene with the FBI early on.) Suffice to say that the novel feels awkward and halting, and fails at properly balancing romance and science fiction. I'm glad it's over.
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