Apparently the reading public can take only so many vampires and werewolves, because YA authors are beginning to look elsewhere for their supernatural romantic heroes. Both Lauren Kate, author of the bestselling Fallen series, and Becca Fitzpatrick, who writes the equally popular Hush, Hush series, have come up with the same solution to the problem: the fallen angel.
In Kate’s Fallen books, Luce Price discovers that the mysterious Daniel Grigori, a fellow student at her reform school, is an angel who fell from heaven because of his love for her, many lifetimes ago. They’ve both been cursed to live out their love story again and again throughout the centuries. In every reincarnation, Luce finds Daniel again, but dies a fiery death just as their romance is beginning to bloom.
Eventually, the 21st-century version of Luce finds a way to travel back through time, visiting her own past lives, in an attempt to figure out how the curse works and how she can break it. One important fact that she discovers is that, because her parents in her current life never had her baptized, she is free in new ways to make her own choices, rather than merely being a victim of fate. The three books in the Fallen series thus far are Fallen, Torment, and Passion; a fourth book, Rapture, is slated for June 2012.
Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series shares several of the same themes. Like Luce, Fitzpatrick’s Nora Grey falls for a bad boy who turns out to be a former denizen of heaven. Patch, the fallen angel in this series, begins by wanting to kill Nora; for some reason, this is supposed to allow him to become human. But he scraps that plan when he falls in love with her, too, and ends up becoming her guardian angel. However, because angels and humans aren’t supposed to have romantic relationships, they have to hide their love from “the archangels,” a group of mysterious, buzz-killing authority figures who would like nothing more to punish them for it. They also have to contend with the Nephilim (see below), beings who plan to make war on the fallen angels. There are three books in this series: Hush, Hush; Crescendo; and the just-released Silence. Another book, not yet titled, is coming in fall 2012.
Things That Make You Go ‘Huh?’
As you’ve probably already gathered, books where fallen angels are the heroes are going to contain a lot of messed-up theology. Here are a few examples:
- “‘They’re both fallen, of course, but have picked different sides. She’s an angel, and he’s more of a demon. . . . It’s not like they can get married or anything. . . . They just sort of . . . live in sin.’” (Torment)
- “‘What you were seeing was the actual Sodom and Gomorrah, as they were destroyed by the Great Tyrant. . . .’” (Spoken by a demon teaching at Luce’s school, who then apologizes with “Even I sometimes lapse into propaganda.”) (Torment)
- “Cam wasn’t the only one who claimed that the divide between angels and demons wasn’t entirely black and white.” (Torment)
- “‘Say what you will about El Diablo Grande, but he is . . . somewhat responsible for introducing the idea of free will among angels.’” (Torment)
- “‘Oh, there are plenty of angels who fell but still technically ally with God. But then there are those who threw in with Satan. We call them demons, even though they’re just fallen angels who made really poor choices.’” (Torment)
- “This body wasn’t who she really was. It was just a shell, part of a punishment. And so this body’s death wasn’t a tragedy at all—it was simply the end of a chapter. A beautiful, necessary release.” (Passion)
- “‘She came down to tell me I can get my wings back if I save a human life.’” (Hush, Hush)
- “‘I didn’t know their wings were ripped out, or that they were cursed to roam Earth with a hunger to possess human bodies. . . . So it made sense in my mind, that if I fell, I’d lose my wings and become human. At the time, I was crazy about a human girl, and it seemed worth the risk.’” (Hush, Hush)
- “‘The first time I saw her, I was still an angel. It was an instant, possessive lust. It drove me crazy. I didn’t know anything about her, except that I would do whatever it took to get close to her. I watched her for a while, and then I got it in my head that if I went down to Earth and possessed a human body, I would be cast out of heaven and become human. . . . I came down on a night in August, but I couldn’t possess the body. On my way back to heaven, a host of avenging angels stopped me and ripped out my wings. They tossed me out of the sky. Right away I knew something was wrong. When I looked at humans, all I could feel was an insatiable craving to be inside their bodies. All my powers were stripped, and I was this weak, pathetic thing. I wasn’t human. I was fallen. I’d realized I’d given it all up, just like that. All this time I’ve hated myself for it. I thought I’d given it up for nothing.’ His eyes focused singularly on me, leaving me feeling transparent. ‘But if I hadn’t fallen, I wouldn’t have met you.’” (Hush, Hush)
Shades of Gray
I’ve quoted at length in order to demonstrate a pattern. The authors of both these series take concepts and themes that can be found in the Bible and reshape them to fit their supernatural romances. Things that are very decidedly black and white for Christians take on a gray tinge in these books—good or evil depending on the situation, rather than the will of God. The idea of possession, for instance. Or the existence of Nephilim, beings descended from both men and angels (an idea originating in Genesis 6). Or, of course, the whole idea of what a fallen angel is.
In both series, the idea of romantic love is promoted as the highest good, even higher than anything God could ever offer. And possibly even more powerful than God. When, in Kate’s Passion, we actually get a glimpse of God, He comes across as “tired, and pained, and less certain than Daniel had ever imagined possible.” And limited in both His understanding and His judgment. The following passage, in which Daniel speaks to both God and Lucifer, shows all this:
“With respect, I will not do this. I will not choose Lucifer’s side, and I will not choose the side of Heaven.”
A roar went up from the camps of angels, from Lucifer, and from [God’s] Throne.
“Instead, I choose love—the thing you have all forgotten. I choose love and leave you to your war. You’re wrong to bring this upon us,” Daniel said evenly to Lucifer. Then, turning, he addressed the Throne. “All that is good in Heaven and on Earth is born of love. This war is not just. This war is not good. Love is the only thing worth fighting for.”
“My child,” the rich, steady voice boomed from the Throne. “You misunderstand. I am standing firm on my ruling out of love—love for all of my creations.”
“No,” Daniel said softly. “This war is about pride. Cast me out, if you must. If that is my destiny, I surrender to it, but not to you.”
The Fallen series and the Hush, Hush series do have things in common with other supernatural romances. Primarily, each of them, like the Twilight series, centers on a teenage girl around whom the whole world revolves—sometimes almost literally—and who has a tendency to make disturbing romantic choices.
But these newer series go a step further, because they don’t just deal with fantasy figures. By mining the Bible for ideas, and then twisting those ideas, the books present a highly distorted concept of God and of faith, and make what the Bible has always presented as rebellious, evil figures into something tantalizing and ultimately good. Though the books are clearly fictional, they could easily have an impact on readers’ understanding of the Bible and the truths it teaches. And that will give Christian parents serious cause for concern.
Image copyright Simon & Schuster. Review copies obtained from the publisher and the reviewer’s local library.
Gina Dalfonzo is editor of BreakPoint.org and Dickensblog.