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A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Soulkeepers by G.P. Ching

A while ago I read the YA offering The Soulkeepers by G.P.Ching. From the opening sentence this book grabbed my attention and kept it.

I don't read loads of YA books, unless my teens are reading them and recommend the book. I found this one on my own, though. It was so full of interesting plot twists. The questions I had pulled me through the book to the very end.

I identified heavily with Jacob as the loner boy who didn't have herds of kids to sit next to in the cafeteria. The fact that he befriended Malini made him cool in my eyes, even though he was full of teen angst. Heck, I was an angst-ridden teen. I wanted to join him at his table and ride along when he went on trips through the tree.

Other reviews have either praised this work for its religious bent or denigrated it for the same thing. I tend to try and keep more of an open mind about his angels. I have a notion of what angels are like based on experience, scripture, and conjecture. We don't know much about them.

Why can't Ching write a fiction book about fallen angels? Madaleine L'Engle did it. Orson Scott Card did it. Dante did it. Writers often try to define what they think heavenly (or sub-heavenly) beings are. This work is clearly fiction. Faulting G.P. for angel mechanics is like saying VAMPIRES DON'T SPARKLE! Who says they can't? It's FICTION. And who says fallen angels can't live in a city and devise mean things to do to captive humans?

As for putting down religion, this book is one fictitious boy's take on his church-going experience. I think if you ask any teen, they'll say that there have been at least one or two times when they've been bored in church, or that their church hasn't answered all their questions, or the people therein have failed them in some way (not least that hypocrisy is an on-going human trait that we need to get rid of in our own psyche). Jacob is a kid who is working through some extremely heavy stuff. And he's trying to do it without the help of anybody really stable. What's a guy to do?

I didn't appreciate the instances of bad language or the bedroom visits. But other than that, I gladly await the sequel to The Soulkeepers.

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