Apocalypse Array

by Lyda Morehouse

Cover image

Series: AngeLINK #4
Publisher: Roc
Copyright: June 2004
ISBN: 0-451-45981-4
Format: Mass market
Pages: 337

Buy at Powell's Books

This is the fourth and final (at least to date, with only a prequel currently planned) book in the AngeLINK series. Characters from the previous books show up without being comprehensively reintroduced and the background information is generally short, so it won't make much sense without having read the previous books.

The identity of the main character of Apocalypse Array is a mild spoiler for Archangel Protocol and some of the speculation throughout the series, so don't read on if you're averse to spoilers and haven't read the previous books in the series.

Amariah is the messiah. Maybe. At least she thinks she probably is, and a lot of other people also think she is. She's also a teenage girl and part Gorgon, living in a kibbutz, and having trouble blending in at school. Oh, and her father is missing, but then possibly returns. But she gets a chance to help out her detective mother on a case.

That case is one angle from which the characters approach the core plot driver of this book: an on-line game called Soul Seeker. Amariah's mother is investigating the possibility that it's turning kids into LINK junkies. Amariah eventually befriends one of the people who is playing it. The Dragon of the East is disturbed by the way the game is colonizing unused portions of the LINK's collective virtual reality, but is even more disturbed when she's downsized, cut off from the computing power of the yakuza central computers. And as the characters find out more about the game, it seems more and more to have something to do with the war between angels and demons and the coming apocalypse.

As with the other books in this series, the strength of Apocalypse Array is the ideas. Blending Christian eschatology and some of the wild popular interpretations of Revelation and related books into a cyperpunk novel that features the angel Ariel as a cross-dresser and the antichrist marrying the devil in a church ceremony is wildly audacious. Morehouse knows (unlike some other series I could name about this material) that the prophecies and interpretations of Christian end times are a bizarre and confusing grab bag of contradictory ideas, and she uses that to great effect. No one involved knows exactly what prophecies like the antichrist or the messiah really mean, how much is predestined and how much can change, what God wants or has planned, and who is on what side. And Morehouse pulls off some lovely reversals and ambiguity here.

Morehouse continues to do a good job with AIs in the Dragon of the East, who is not only a great character in her own right but who also raises interesting questions about free will and moral choices in the larger context of the series. Morehouse's virtual reality and cyberspace don't break new ground, but her attention to character pays off. Page, though, has unfortunately suffered over the course of the series, particularly from the events of Messiah Node. He's here, sort of, but the character just isn't the same, and I didn't feel the connection with him that I did from the previous books.

I think the weak point of this book is pacing and plot. It takes a long time to get moving, and even after it does, I found the plot somehow unsatisfying. There are a few too many scattered events and not enough of a narrative arc for me. It doesn't help that some parts of the story (such as Emmaline and Morningstar) seem to sputter inconsistently. There are big revelations, but not enough denouement and in-book analysis for the revelations to feel quite real. Amariah's story is fun once it gets started, but that doesn't happen until nearly the end of the book even though she's set up throughout to be the leading character. And despite being the last published book of the series, there's lots of room for a sequel and lots left unexplained. Apocalypse Array ends with an upheaval of most of what the reader thought they knew, which is fun, but without much exploration of the new interpretations of facts, which is frustrating.

Apocalypse Array is worth reading if you've read the rest of the series, but I left somewhat unsatisfied. There are a lot of great ideas and some good characters who are not always well-served by the plot. Recommended if you, like I, have a particular liking for stories about angels and demons or that play with the Christian Armageddon. Otherwise, it's borderline.

Followed by Resurrection Code.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviewed: 2010-12-30

Last modified and spun 2014-12-21