Overture: Life of the Party by S.L. Armstrong
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Episode 2, Life of the Party, of the Immortal Symphony serial is intense and slightly uncomfortable. I had a hard time enjoying the story, since it’s mostly one extended orgy scene, as it just felt wrong for the main character Gabriel. I didn’t feel like he had any comprehension what he was doing and furthermore, he kind of came off pretty innocent, naïve, and frankly stupid. I didn’t particularly like his character or his choices and thus I didn’t like this episode. It’s likely to be a highly personal choice I realize and I’m curious enough about the story to continue on even if I’m left feeling unsettled after this offering.
Picking up where the last story left off, Gabriel arrives in Scotland to be Dorian’s plaything. Despite Michael’s (Gabriel’s dead ghostly twin) very real and logical objections, Gabriel is determined to think of nothing but sex for as long as it lasts. Right from the start I had some problems with Gabriel’s character. In the first episode we’re told he’s survived the death of his twin, which is sure to be a traumatic experience, and that he’s traveled the world surviving pretty well with his supernatural pursuits. To me, this would give Gabriel a certain level of sophistication and world awareness. If he’s managed to eke out a living, and attend college, wherever he goes and not end up a statistic somewhere, he has to be somewhat intelligent and capable. Yet he ignores Michael’s very sensible objections for no reason except to get laid. Some of this is easy to ignore and forgive, but as the story goes on Gabriel’s actions seem in contradiction.
First Gabriel mentions several times that he’s not had many lovers, which fits with the new naïve persona that’s shown here, but Gabriel doesn’t really put up much argument against Dorian’s wild ways. He doesn’t come across as someone that would like that kind of partying at all, so why does he submit so easily? Gabriel seems almost as spineless and influenced as any other random lover Dorian takes, which negates any “special” quality Gabriel is supposed to have. Gabriel seems just as lost under Dorian’s power as anyone, going so far as to ignore his own intelligence and comfort levels. I also think this isn’t just my random reaction as the story goes so far as to acknowledge Gabriel’s actions as “too stupid to live.” So I’m left wondering why I should care about Gabriel as a character when he’s contradictory and not that bright.
The main thrust of the story this time is all about Gabriel and his addiction to Dorian, going pretty far. I’m guessing the story is going to have Gabriel see something in Dorian no one else has seen and that makes him different but really it doesn’t fit either personality so far. It feels forced given Gabriel’s almost slave-like acceptance. I’m very curious to see how Gabriel reacts to the events that happened. I think that will make or break this serial for me. I love the concept of it but so far Gabriel’s turned me off. But again it’s a personal reaction that not everyone may have. I can still easily recommend this as it’s engaging, well written and different from almost everything else. It’s more than edgy and I can definitely appreciate that. I’d skim through the first book just so you know where things are at but this is pretty independent of the last one so far.