Bizarro Book Review: Probability Angels by Joseph Devon

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.


13 responses to “Bizarro Book Review: Probability Angels by Joseph Devon

  1. Thanks for this review, Albert. I usually prefer the old fashioned way of reading – in a comfortable chair, holding a book. Not having an e-reader, relying on a laptop makes it uncomfortable to read more than 5 pages at a stretch.

    But I am curious about the zombies 🙂 So I have downloaded it anyway.

    I quite agree with the “You’re not special” outlook. After a few experiences I have changed the view that is thrust on us by the world that one must be born with special talents to become successful. Ever since I have realised that this popular view isn’t true, I have come across many people telling me to believe in myself and my passion, even if I don’t believe in my talent, including you. So thank you. 🙂

    • I’m glad you like the review, and it is an important lesson to learn. Too many movies portray the hero as the “Chosen One,” but the truth is, no one who has ever done anything great with their lives did it because they were “chosen.” They did it through hard work, passion, and occasionally a little bit of luck. I may write a blog post about this sometime soon.
      As to reading books on the computer screen, I hear ya. I get fidgety if I have to read a blog post that’s longer than a thousand words or so (that’s another potential post too, so don’t get me started). I highly recommend you look into getting an eReader. The cost for these things is coming down considerably and the experience of reading off of one of them is light years ahead of trying to read off of your computer screen as well as being more convenient. Still not quite the same experience of holding a book with pages in your hand, but it’s darn close.
      Thanks for the comment!

  2. zombie angels?! Wha the . ?
    I’m in.
    plus, that’s a rad cover.

    • Zombie angles isn’t exactly what the book calls them, but since the title uses the word angels I thought the term was justified. And anyway they are awesome in a totally evil way.

  3. You had me at fight scenes…

  4. Whoohoo! Thanks for the great write up. I’ll definitely be passing this around. I just wanted to drop in and say that there is a paperback version available as well. And that there’s a sequel coming down the pipe (fingers crossed) this month or the next. And, seriously, thanks. Responses like this are why I write.


  5. Zombie angels? Cool! Sounds like a fun read!

    Re: your twitter post about crying when writing a sad scene, I read some book that says you need to be in touch w/ your emotions to write really good emotional scenes, so it’s okay if you cry. 🙂 I’m female, so it’s not surprising that I get teary writing my emotional scenes, but…

    • It’s not the first time it’s happened to me either. I once almost got physically ill when writing one particular short story. In fact to this day I’ve kept that story under wraps because it was so gruesome.

  6. Wow. this book just sounds…awesome. Zombie Angels?? I’m definitely checking this one out.

    Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  7. Pingback: Bizzaro Book Review: Persistent Illusions by Joseph Devon « Albert Berg's Unsanity Files

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