Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Misguided Angel by Melissa de la Cruz

Spoilers for the entire Blue Bloods series! In case you're one of those people who checks reviews of an entire series before trying it (like me), you have been warned.

Title: Misguided Angel
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: October 26, 2010
Pages: 265 pages (hardback)

After inheriting the dark Van Alen Legacy, Schuyler fled to Florence with her forbidden love, Jack. Now the two of them must embark on the mission Schuyler was destined to complete: to find and protect the five remaining gates that guard the earth from Lucifer, lord of the Silver Bloods.

Back in New York, Mimi has been elected Regent of a crumbling coven. Struggling with her heartache over the loss of Kingsley and with her overwhelming desire to destroy Jack, she must focus all her energy on a perilous new threat. Vampires are being abducted and their captors are planning to burn them alive online... for all the world to see. Help arrives in the form of Deming Chen, a Venator from Shanghai, who must untangle the web of deceptions before the killers strike again.

As the young vampires struggle for the survival of the coven, they uncover a deadly secret, a truth first discovered by Schuyler's mother during the Renaissance but kept buried for centuries. As the Blue Blood enclave weakens yet further, fate leads Schuyler to a terrible choice that will ultimately map the destiny of her heart.


Picking up a month or so after The Van Alen Legacy, Schuyler Van Alen and Jack Force are on their journey to find the five gates that keep Lucifer in Hell and secure them so that he may not escape through them. Their first stop: the Gate of Promise. Back in New York, Mimi is leading the coven and dealing with the loss of Kingsley and Jack. The coven is crumbling; few want her as their leader and some are even planning to break from the coven to go underground. Once a young vampire is abducted and someone threatens to leave the Blue Blood dead forever by way of black fire, Mimi knows that saving this vampire and finding the culprit will make all the difference. Deming Chen, a Chinese Venator with an impressive resume, is brought in to help find the kidnapper and also to stop the coup d'etat so that the New York coven will stay together and remain some sort of safe. New information about the Silver Bloods comes to light.

After the fantastic Van Alen Legacy, I had a lot of expectations for Misguided Angel and its new narrator Deming Chen. Because the story is separated into three (technically four, but I count it as three) segments with three different narrators, I will be grading this pretty much by each section.

***Obligatory spoiler warning now. If you want do not want a good part of Misguided Angel spoiled for you, steer clear of my review***

Schuyler's section of the book was... well, I'm not sure enough happened for it to be anything. Jack and Schuyler escaped from the Countess and her Venators, met up with this pirate guy who helps them out, and they go to look for the gate. There's a little more to it that I will keep quiet from being all spoily, but that's pretty much all there was to it. It's not just Schuyler's section that is short; the entire book is short. I read an almost-400-pages-long book and then it scales back to 250 pages, which is a short read for me. The lack of action really brought this section down for me.

The true highlight of Misguided Angel was Mimi Force's segment. In five books, Mimi has evolved from a mean, blond, and spoiled stereotype there just to be mean and stand in Jack and Schuyler's way to a sympathetic character in her own right. It has been firmly established that Mimi is not a nice girl. She is spoiled, mean, and bossy, but she will do what is right and answer the call to duty, even if that isn't what her heart wants. She can have sympathy for others and isn't as heartless as she was once portrayed. Right now, Mimi is my favorite Blue Bloods character and anti-heroine. In this book, she had to deal with the all the feelings from Kingsley's death and Jack's breaking of their bond and has to try and do what's best for her coven when they don't really want her leading them. Her developing friendship with Oliver was a good read and her desperation to solve the murders of her Blue Bloods is palpable, along with her hatred of Jack and the heartbreak of both Jack's betrayal and what happened to Kingsley.

I knew long before the summary of Misguided Angel was released that there would be a new narrator in this book. I recognized Deming Chen's name from Masquerade and was hoping for a narrator who was the average Blue Blood (as average as they get): they weren't Lucifer's daughter like Bliss, a half-blooded Blue Blood like Schuyler, or the newest incarnation of a legendary figure among Blue Bloods like Mimi. I wanted the average Blue Blood's perspective on the events going on.

Did I get that? Nope. As it turns out, Deming is just as special as Mimi, Schuyler, and Bliss. She's a respected figure herself among Blue Bloods and could do things the average vampire couldn't, like see auras without help from the glom. Her narrative was rather dull and distant to me, but I could tell that one of her personality flaws was her distance, so that latter half didn't bother me so much. I rather enjoyed her section in terms of story... until it got to her romance. Deming's romance with Paul Rayburn was the most inauthentic romance I've seen in a while. They had no connection at all! No romance would have been preferable to what readers got.

I loyally follow Mrs. de la Cruz's blog and I saw in her June 11, 2010 entry titled "Having a Life" that she said, "Misguided Angel for some reason was really difficult to write, but in the end it was exactly what I wanted it to me." With this in mind, I gave the book a little bit of leeway. When a book is hard to write and deadlines force the author to write, good ideas might not always happen. I can certainly tell in parts that she had a hard time; they don't quite flow well for me. The storyline itself was as it usually is and she made a small expansion to the Blue Bloods universe that I think was worked in well. I have heard about the idea of Nephilim before and can't wait to see what else Mrs. de la Cruz will do with it.

I saw some people take issue with how there was no mention of Bliss, Allegra, or Charles. I expected no resolution with Allegra and Charles in this book because where they are right now, none of the narrators would be able to plausibly get into contact with either of them. Long prior to the release of Misguided Angel, I knew Bliss was going to be getting a spinoff (Wolf Pact, due out in 2012, I think) that would chronicle her adventures as she tried to get help from the Hounds of Hell. Logic decrees that because of that spinoff, she would not narrate Misguided Angel.

One last point: I'm getting a little irritated with the vampire superiority thing going on in this series. Many people in the series who are mentioned to be important or rich are revealed to be Blue Bloods; humans and what they do are often spoken of pejoratively for just about anything the vampires can think of. What's next, the President of the United States is a Blue Blood too? In all fairness, the vampires of this series are more powerful than humans and because we're seeing it through the experienced and somewhat cynical Blue Bloods' eyes, we're seeing their thoughts about humans. They're not necessarily fair. The only series worse about vampire superiority was the House of Night series; anyone who is well-known in our world (Melissa Marr, for instance) is a vampyre in the House of Night series, which delivers a message that in that world, humans will always be inferior to vampires. That message is nowhere near as blunt in the Blue Bloods series, but still there.

This wasn't a bad book at all-- I was entertained, especially during Mimi's section-- but after how fantastic the Van Alen Legacy was, Misguided Angel was a letdown. I'll let some of this be excused by the aforementioned statement from Mrs. de la Cruz, but that doesn't let her get away with everything. I'm definitely going to read Lost in Time when it comes out next year, though.

4 stars!