Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel by Toi Thomas
Toi Thomas’ Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel is the first in a series of novels chronicling Giovanni’s (an angel) and Mira’s (Giovanni’s love interest) experiences. A science-fiction version of Beauty and the Beast with a strong Christian bent to it, Giovanni’s Angel tells the story of the start of Giovanni and Mira’s relationship. Mira, a successful but lonely doctor, meets Giovanni in an online chatroom and the two begin an unlikely friendship. When Mira goes to visit Giovanni to research his curious “ailment,” she discovers Giovanni is actually an angel. Guided by Giovanni’s trusty live-in friend, Abraham, Giovanni and Mira learn to let go of their pasts and fall in love.
The thought Thomas has put into her protagonist’s backstories is apparent and impressive. Large swaths of her novel are dedicated to explaining how each of Giovanni, Mira, and Abraham have ended up where they are in life—Thomas’ investment in these characters is clear and laudable. However, these in-depth descriptions give way to a critique of the novel: Thomas spends far too much time telling as opposed to showing. Instead of utilizing flashbacks or any other sort of variation in form that could characterize her protagonists, Thomas either has the characters narrate their pasts to each, creating significant sections of dense, unrealistic dialogue. This form of characterization makes the central conflict of the narrative (Giovanni and Mira learning to love), at times, difficult to locate as the reader does not receive a gradual characterization experience that truly shows change. While the conflict of this story is internal, there are a number of external conflicts that arise, but due to pacing, Thomas does not fully flesh out these conflicts. These external conflicts would be great moments to demonstrate changes in the characters’ psyches; however, the conflicts occur and resolve too quickly and effortlessly to really convince a reader. While there are flaws in Giovanni’s Angel, Thomas’ clear love for her characters and story may be enough to convince some readers to continue reading the series to see what happens with Giovanni and Mira after this installation’s happy ending.
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