Sunday, June 7, 2020

"Five Seasons of Angel" edited by Glenn Yeffeth

I don't talk about it much on this blog because this is my book blog, not my movies/writing/life blog, but Angel (1999-2004) is my second-favorite TV show of all time.  This spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) follows vampire-with-a-soul Angel (David Boreanaz) to Los Angeles as he seeks to make amends for all the harm he had inflicted on others before being cursed with a soul.  It's kind of a supernatural film noir series, especially for the first couple of seasons.

Angel debuted my sophomore year of college, and my roommates insisted I watch the premier episode with them.  I thought it was okay.  Okay enough that I watched the next few with them too, and by episode three, I was hooked for good.  I started watching Buffy with them too, and became a fan of it as well, though not as devotedly.

This book is a collection of essays in which, as the subtitle says, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Discuss Their Favorite Vampire.  Which is a bit misleading, because several of the essays don't focus on Angel himself at all, so maybe it should say Favorite Vampire Show instead?  But that's just quibbling.  This book, as a whole, delighted me.  Considering I've watched this whole series through twice, once in its initial run and once via DVD, and rewatched many episodes many more times than that, I thought I knew the series and Angel's story arc in it pretty well.  But, in fact, this book taught me some things about the show, pointing out nuances I hadn't noticed, and was generally as informative as it was enjoyable.

My favorite essays were:

  • "Angelus Populi" by Don DeBrandt
  • "That Angel Doesn't Live Here Anymore" by Laura Resnick
  • "A World Without Love: The Failure of Family in Angel" by Jean Lorrah
  • "It's Not Easy being Green and Nonjudgmental" by Abbie Bernstein
  • "Why We Love Lindsey" by Michelle Sagara West
  • "The Good Vampire: Angel and Spike" by Peter S. Beagle
  • "Victim Triumphant" by Jacqueline Lichtenberg
  • "Death Becomes Him: Blondie Bear 5.0" by Nancy Holder
  • "True Shanshu" by Laura Anne Gilman
  • "There's My Boy..." by Joy Davidson

Um, yes, that's like half the essays.  There were SO MANY excellent ones! If you're a fan of this series, definitely find yourself a copy of this book.

Particularly Good Bits:

Sometimes, when reality is too grim, fantasy is all we have (p. 4, "Angelus Populi" by Don DeBrandt).

It's all about pain.  Ridicule is a way to get rid of your own by forcing it upon someone else (p. 6, "Angelus Populi" by Don DeBrandt).

If we look at the opening credits of every Angel episode, we see a graphic representation of Angel's eternal isolation.  Yes, there are some changing shots of Angel interacting with the cast of each season, but the end of the montage never changes.  our final image of Angel remains that dark silhouette walking away from us into the night. Angel alone (p. 62, "A World Without Love: The Failure of Family in Angel" by Jean Lorrah).

Lorne's not stupid -- he understands the advantages of being a good fighter -- but he sees it as just another quality, like an ability to read auras: nice if you have it, but nothing wrong with you if you don't (p. 71, "It's Not Easy being Green and Nonjudgmental" by Abbie Bernstein).

Angel reveals that life's victims -- not heroes, but people just like us -- are all that stand between us and annihilation (p. 137, "Victim Triumphant" by Jacqueline Lichtenberg).

In [Cordelia's] humanity, we see the best points of the Angelverse: not the strong defending the weak, but the weak learning how to be strong (p. 185, "True Shanshu" by Laura Anne Gilman).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: R for frank discussions of sexual situations and themes and some bad language.  Not a book kids are going to want to read anyway.

This is my 19th book read and reviewed for #theunreadshelfproject2020 :-)


  1. I can't wait for this one! I still need to finish Buffy but I've seen clips and it looks fantastic.

    1. Skye, why am I not surprised you're into Buffy too? That sharp, brilliant writing is just... so wonderful. How far are you in Buffy? Angel actually shoots off after season 4...


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