My kids at school had to undergo an Interim Assessment Test these past two days, giving me a slew of hours in which to sit and read Justine Musk’s first nove, Bloodangel. So I burned through it, pausing only to lift my eyes above the book’s horizon to scan my kids every few moments before resuming my reading. And, surprise surprise, I finished it today. My kids also finished their tests, but I’d be willing to wager that I had the better experience.
How was it? It was the good. Primarily the writing itself was of high quality. Musk has a crisp style that scans easily and frequently manifests interesting turns of phrase or novel descriptions so as to make reading her words a pleasure.
However, most of her characters felt flat. Jess and Kai, two of the main protagonists, seemed without particular depth; perhaps it’s that they did nothing that surprised me, were predictable in their decisions and the path that lay before them, or that Musk used them as the main vehicles for advancing her plot (of which I’ll get to soon). They were beautifully described, but never fully realized; Kai in particular was stuck in his role, and while he fulfilled it admirably, he did little else and as such failed to interest me beyond brief glimpses here and then that were never fleshed out.
However, Ramsey and Lucas, two other important characters, and to a lesser degree Del, who had a bit part, were much more intriguing and interesting. This is because their roles in the novel were more complex, were not obvious, even. Their was a greater level of ambiguity as to their moralities, and even right up till the end I couldn’t figure out what their fate would be. As such, I was hooked.
And the plot. Well–intriguing, epic, told with delightful twists and curlicues, but I couldn’t shake the impression that it was familiar, slightly generic, almost. This might be because of the incredibly strong resonance it has with White Wolf’s Vampire game’s background, or because of how large chunks were revealed by Kai in what felt like exposition. Also, the ending: it felt like Musk was creating a huge dish, and kept throwing more and more ingredients into the pot to the point where the main characters were almost overwhelmed by all that was going on.
Some plot holes, or points that I missed: What was Lucas’ interest in Jess? How did he know her? How did Asha free herself? Things like that bothered me given their importance to the plot.
But! I hope I’m not being overly negative here. Musk truly writes well, and some of her characters were very compelling. The novel was fast paced, and I’m looking forward to reading the next one and seeing how her writing improves.