Verdict: ARCHANGEL DOWN is a compelling sci-fi complete with satisfyingly high-tech gadgetry and high stakes political and social intrigue.
Humanity may have made first contact. Meanwhile, unaware of why they’ve been implicated as members of the mysterious Archangel Project, a potential alien invasion, two strangers set out to save a planet.
Commander Noa Sato is anticipating a peaceful reunion with her brother on their home planet of Luddeccea when she is captured, interrogated, and held in a concentration camp for technologically augmented humans. History professor James Sinclair is on his way to his family’s cottage when he finds himself being hunted down by the local government. Noa escapes with the aid of her military training, and James joins her in her flight, discovering a powerful and unexplainable connection to the commander and shocking superhuman abilities in the process. On the run for their lives, Noa and James must find a way to save millions from the dangers of a dictatorial government gone mad with religious fanaticism and prejudice, and discover the meaning of a secret transmission: “The Archangel is down.”
ARCHANGEL DOWN feels like it is taking place in the fully realized future of 2432. Strong political overtones dealing with racism, ableism, sexism, and religious fundamentalism are handled with nuance, while James’s background as a history professor allows Author C. Gockel to compare the characters’ experiences with history (often our present) without disrupting the flow of the story or being heavy-handed. While the book tackles many serious issues, an underlying subtle humor pervades the book, often in the form of Noa and James’s banter, and the vivid action sequences provide suspense and adventure.
The characters are similarly well developed. Noa is an intelligent, compassionate, and daring woman with realistic weaknesses and internal struggles. James is a hyper-augmented human who isn’t aware of the full extent of the changes made to his body or his mind after a severe accident. He sometimes seems like a caricature or idealization, but he’s intended to, and his distress over coming to grips with his mysterious abilities and his altered emotional range seem genuine.
Despite the uneven tempo of the story, with some sections dragging slightly and the occasional unexplained jump between scenes or some unresolved burning questions, the story’s entertainment value is enticing enough to make up for this.
ARCHANGEL DOWN is a compelling sci-fi complete with satisfyingly high-tech gadgetry and high stakes political and social intrigue.