Sunday, October 16, 2011

Book Review: The Alleluia Files by Sharon Shinn

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Author: Sharon Shinn
Publisher: Ace
Paperback: 448 pages
Series Order: Book 3 (Published Order) or Book 5 (Chronological Order)
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Legend has it that the Alleluia Files contain the truth about the god of Samaria. Now, a child raised in captivity among the angels will journey the length and breadth of her world to seek the documents that will alter the face of Samaria forever.
Overall Rating: 4/5

Sharon Shinn wrote the Samaria books before angels were even a popular subject. I'm a big fan of Shinn, and after reading the first book in this series, Archangel, I fell in love with the world she has created. This is very much a science fiction series, with the inhabitants of Samaria being descendants of people from Earth who left to escape the destruction of the planet by technology. In The Alleluia Files, the people of Samaria have become much more technologically advanced -- some think this is a good thing, others think they are traveling the path that their descendants had tried to escape from.

The book starts off with Tamar, a woman who has grown up with the Jacobites, a group of people who believe that the "god" the angels sing to for help is in fact a spaceship designed to respond to aural cues (music). I loved Tamar. Strong female heroines always win me over, and this girl has some fire in her! Despite being persecuted, hunted down, and beaten down by people from all over, she refuses to give up. She doesn't even complain about her lot in life; she just accepts it and does what she can to survive. If there's anything I hate, it's a whiny character, so I fell in love with Tamar rather quickly.

As all the Samaria books, The Alleluia Files has multiple viewpoints, so we don't just get Tamar's version of events, though I consider her to be the main character. We also get Lucinda, an angel who grew up on an isolated island, and Jared, a high-ranking angel who goes against the norm. They are all wonderful characters, but I think that Tamar was my favorite, followed by Lucinda.

While it was very good, I don't think this one was as good as the first two books of the series. For some reason, the romance didn't seem quite as satisfying. Also, the plot was fairly predictable. Although, I have to admit, once the climax hit, I couldn't stop reading, even though I was pretty sure of what was going to happen. This book is exciting, humorous, suspenseful, and heartwarming. Shinn's greatest talent is getting the reader involved in her characters' lives and their stories -- by the end, I felt like I had just gone through what they had gone through, and found myself sharing their emotions. For me, that is the sign of good writing.

The Samaria books are all connected; however, they are written in a way so as to make them stand-alone. On the one hand, I hate how we don't get to see characters from previous books, but on the other hand, I really like seeing how the world changes and progresses throughout the centuries. Obviously, reading the previous books will help your understanding of the finer points of the world and its history, but it's not necessary.

I recommend this series for any science fiction or romance lover. Keep in mind that there aren't hot and heavy scenes -- it's a sweet romance -- but the characters' interactions will make your heart flutter and put a smile on your face.