I consider myself to be something of an explorer in the ebook world. Ever since I got my eReader I’ve been scouring the internet for out of the way oddities and unsung gems, and every once in a while I’ll stumble across a fantastic book it seems like no one else has ever heard of. Whenever this happens I just want to shout the news from the housetops, but the last time I stood on my neighbor’s roof and started screaming about how great Joseph Devon’s Probability Angels was I almost got arrested, so I’m just going to write this blog post about it instead.
Probability Angels is a book about these supernatural beings called the Tempters, people who at the moment of a loved one’s death wished for themselves to die instead and got their wish. In return they must walk among the people of earth “pushing” them to achieve something beyond their normal potential. There’s more to the mythos, but that’s the basic gist of the thing.
This book is fun. It just is. It takes the threads of the world it inhabits and uses them to weave a strange and fantastic story. It’s got fantastic fight scenes, it’s got epic heroes, it’s got zombie angels, and… You know what? That’s all you need to know. This book has zombie angels in it. What more do you need?
I say the story is great, and it is to a point, but really the characters are really what make Probability Angels so engaging. First on the roster is a Tempter named Epictetus, and he is awesome. He’s basically the pinnacle of what all the other Tempters want to achieve. He’s been around for thousands of years; he’s learned every trick in the book and written a few books of tricks himself. When he shows up, look out. It’s about to get real. Then there’s Kyo, a unique Tempter with no powers, but he’s a samurai which is really the BEST POWER EVER.
This isn’t the kind of book that requires a lot of deep thought. You can enjoy it just for the coolness of the whole thing if you want. But there is more there. One speech in particular that Epictetus gives toward the end of the book had a big impact on the way I think about life in general and writing in particular.
You were nothing special. For god’s sake I am so sick of that mentality. That you have to be special to be special. The biggest anchor on the progress of all humanity is the notion that good comes with clear signs, that greatness can’t possibly exist within the confines of an ordinary existence. I saw nothing special in you, Bartleby. I only saw that you existed, and so you had a right to be better than you are. That is it, and that is why I did what I did. The only thing holding you back was you and I was sick of it!”
You are nothing special. So go out and do something unbelievable anyway. That’s a lesson that we all need to learn, and its as good a reason as any to read this book.
In the end, Probability Angels is not a perfect book. It has its flaws, particularly toward the end when the plot becomes less nuanced and more standardized, but in spite of not being perfect it’s still a great read.
Read Probability Angels. Read it for the action. Read it for the heroes. Read it to learn something about life. But read it.
You can download several formats for free here, or you can buy it for $2.99 from the Kindle store.