Archangel Protocol is an absorbing read, so much so that after I finished it, I drove to the bookstore and bought its sequel, Fallen Host. I normally avoid books and movies with extremely strong religious components – I had an intensely negative reaction to the new movie Signs precisely because of the religious aspect. But Lyda Morehouse has set up her world so well that I fell right inside and was hooked.
The year is 2076. To say that the world has changed would be an understatement. Most of Europe is known as Christendom and is ruled by the Pope. The United States is a theocracy. It still has a president, but if a person is not part of an organized religion, they are outcast and not allowed access to the LINK. The LINK is more than the Internet, it is hardwired into every person’s brain and is the underlying function of the entire world, not just the U.S. Those without LINK access are almost considered sub-human. People turned to religion after the Medusa bomb exploded (which turned people to toxic glass slowly while they were still screaming) and rang the death knell of science and medicine. Technology expanded, but scientific research was banned.
Deidre McMannus, a barely practicing Catholic, has been excommunicated from the church, and her LINK implant was deactivated one year ago. Dee was a cop and excellent at tracking hackers in the LINK system, until her partner Danny went off the deep end and killed the Pope. In the skewed religious society, Dee was blamed as a Jezebel who corrupted Danny and caused him to go crazy. Dee has been trying to make ends meet as a P.I., but without LINK access, she’s had a difficult time making ends meet.
Enter Michael Angelucci, a cop who shows up on her doorstep with a strange request and the answer to her nightmare. Michael wants Dee to prove that the LINK angels, who recently appeared and are supposedly sent from God, are fakes. Dee doesn’t necessarily believe the LINK angels are a sign from God, but proving they are frauds is a different game altogether. Michael has promised to restore her LINK access if she agrees to help him. To say Dee is skeptical is an understatement.
Michael is much more than the cop he appears to be, however, and so are some of his acquaintances, Jibril, Raphael, and of course, Morningstar. Adding to Dee’s problems are a shady politician, a heated presidential race, her own problematic faith, and a LINK page and his builder named Mouse (Mouse is not only LINK page’s builder; it’s the page itself).
The world this author built is incredibly detailed and complex. She twists and turns the religious components with great skill and expertise. I wouldn’t want to live in her world, however. Women must wear skirts, the morality police are a part of everyday life, and prenatal care and medicine are non-existent. This is not set up as a romance per se, but there is a strong romantic element, although I would consider the ending bittersweet.
The resolution of Dee’s journey – for it is much more than a case to be solved – is intriguing and possibly, for some readers, disturbing. The cast of secondary characters were interesting and the follow up book features Morningstar, which I can’t wait to read.
If you’re a science fiction fan looking for something different and can handle some religious twists, I highly recommend Archangel Protocol. For me to give high praise to a book containing this much religion is a surprise indeed. I like surprises.