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24 December 2010

(ARC) Book Review: Kindred

KindredKindred by Tammar Stein

Description and cover art courtesy of Goodreads.

Publication Date: 11 February 2011

I received an ARC of Kindred from Star Book Tours.

The first time I meet an angel, it is Raphael and I am eighteen.

Miriam is an unassuming college freshman stuck on campus after her spring break plans fall through. She's not a religious girl--when pressed she admits reluctantly to believing in a higher power. Truth be told, she's about as comfortable speaking about her faith as she is about her love life, which is to say, not at all. And then the archangel Raphael pays Miriam a visit, and she finds herself on a desperate mission to save two of her contemporaries. To top it all off, her twin brother, Mo, has also had a visitation, but from the opposite end of the good-evil spectrum, which leaves Miriam to wonder--has she been blessed and her brother cursed or vice versa? And what is the real purpose behind her mission?

My Thoughts

What Worked (for me)
Kindred is an interesting take on the "angel" novel. Instead of a girl being caught in between two angels (doubling as love interests), Miriam believes that she has been visited by the angel Gabriel. She embarks upon a quest to save those that she believes Gabriel has marked for her. But throughout the novel, it is made clear that Miriam has experienced her own crisis of faith. At the start of the novel, it is made clear that though Miriam may believe in something, she is not very religious. As the novel progresses, readers can see that though Miriam believes that Gabriel (and perhaps, God) has a plan for her, she has trouble unravelling her own deeper feelings on God.

I really liked Tammer Stein's style of prose. Her writing could be considered a little sparse, but it resonated with me. Even with the subject matter, Kindred does not come off as preachy, or even as overly religious. The placement of Miriam's fraternal twin brother, Mo, as her adversary was genius. It is easy to see that Mo is the wilder, more free and extroverted of the pair. And, when it seems as if he might be working on the opposite side of the good-evil divide as Miriam, Stein exposes Miriam's inner confusion over how to help her brother with great alacrity.

A small note on some of the more mundane details of the book: Miriam experiences some illness, which she attributes to her position. Perhaps God is punishing her, or perhaps she must endure this pain for a greater purpose. Understandably, this is a part of the plot that is important to the novel, but the details of her illness are rather detailed. Once Miriam sees a doctor, it is revealed that she probably suffers from Crohn's Disease. For readers who might be sensitive to this sort of thing, know that there is a fair amount of discussion about Miriam's intestinal and "lower" issues. While it didn't put me off the book, I can see how it could take away from the greater plot that Kindred is about, if it is a personally disturbing subject.

At it's heart, Kindred describes a struggle; a turning point or "growing pain". The inner struggle that Miriam has, the struggle that exists between good and evil, is a struggle that, with the religious aspect removed, could describe almost any hard situation that a person (especially a teen) might find themselves having to overcome.



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