Last week I started discussing my obsession with Angel lit. It’s something I could talk for days on. One of the most popular Angel-lit series would have to be Fallen by Lauren Kate but I have a love-hate relationship with it. When I first read it I loved it. It was everything I needed to read at the time. It seemed to have it all; star-crossed lovers, reincarnation, Angels, Demons, Nephilim, conflict, drama! It had a love triangle; does Luce choose the “bad boy” Fallen Angel Cam or go with the Fallen Angel Daniel who has loved her for centuries? It had all the best parts of Vampire-lit but it had Demons!
Then I read it for my thesis on Feminisim and the “Sins” of Angels; and I hated it.
WARNING: This post contains potential spoilers in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate. Do not read further if you hate spoilers.
(Yep this is one of the shelves on my bookshelf.)
If you haven’t read the book here’s a brief run down of the story: Luce is a young woman who never lives past the age of 17. She reincarnates periodically after dying horrifically, which always happens shortly after meeting the love of her life; Daniel. Daniel is a Fallen Angel and Luce is portrayed as the human girl he fell for and who was subsequently cursed with him into a reincarnation cycle. Luce has no memories of her past lives, but as Daniel is immortal he remembers her. It seems that no matter what he does Daniel always ends up where Luce is, thus triggering the cycle to start again. The series follows her current incarnation as she meets and falls in love with Daniel, on to her learning about their past together and her journey to make this life time different.
Ok having said all that this is the main thing that bugs me about Luce and Daniel’s “romance”. Daniel is horrible to her when they meet in this current incarnation. Sure, in the story he’s just being horrible to her so that she will stay away from him and thus hopefully have a long and happy life; but it doesn’t work. She falls immediately in love with him and no amount of his pushing her away has any affect on that what so ever. All she does is pine after him, throw herself in his path and question why he rejects her. In the end it is revealed that Daniel does love her and that absolves his behaviour towards her; which only makes the message worse. It reinforces negative messages that young women are told in the rape culture that is prevalent in literature. This really gets under my skin. It’s the same as people telling a young girl that the boy bullying her is only doing it because he likes her. If he actually liked her he wouldn’t dream of hurting her. As the story progresses Daniel orders Luce around “for her own protection”, which is classic controlling behaviour of an abusive boyfriend. The other characters of the story are well rounded and interesting, but I just can’t get behind Luce and Daniel’s relationship. He treats her like she’s sixteen, I guess because she never lives past 17, and acts more like her father than her boyfriend.
At the end it turns out that Luce was an Angel all along and her curse was to reincarnate until she had chosen a side in the War between Heaven and the Fallen Angels. So, she is in fact approximately the same age as Daniel. Why then does he treat her like a teenager for essentially thousands of years? Even before this revelation the third installment of the series focuses on Luce traveling through her past lives, both modern and in the ancient world, so we know she’s been around a freaking long time, so does Daniel. So why does he treat her like she’s a child?
Kate has a great talent for writing, and like I said, I loved her other characters and their stories; I think Arriane is one of my favourite characters, and of course Roland is hilarious. I just didn’t like the Luce and Daniel love story and think much of the drama could have been built without Daniel trying to control Luce’s behaviour. The genre is very similar to the Vampire-lit genre and I think both genres have a distinct need to move away from the “love interest who is technically abusive but does it for the “right” reasons” stereotype. In the real world there are no “right” reasons for someone to be manipulative, controlling or downright abusive to the person they “love”.