Book review: New Author Tells a Story Of Teenage Addiction
...For the Angels are Dead... a Strong First Effort
By Jillian Berry
ASSOCIATE ARTS EDITOR
“For the Angels are Dead”
Released December 30, 2005
In Andy Bilger’s “For the Angels are Dead,” the first novel from this self-published author, we follow Addison, a troubled teen from middle class suburbia, as he comes of age in the heart of Mexico. Faced with parents who view his very existence as a problem, Addison finds himself in military school with no hope of getting let out in the near future. So Addison flees Texas and travels to Mexico with Luke (a brother-like figure) to escape all the people controlling his life. Once in Mexico, we see him lose control of his life and ruin the lives of those around him with the help of alcohol, pills, and cocaine. Addison is trapped in a downward spiral of loss and drugs, and throughout his journey, he is visited in his dreams by angels who wish the worst for him. The “angels” show him his darkest fears and laugh with excitement when he loses or fails.
In “For the Angels are Dead,” Bilger attempts to convey the underside of the middle class belly. Addison does not learn how to get high from some gang member or drug dealer, but from his parents, who appear to be successful corporate employees, but retire to separate bedrooms with their drinks and “little blue friends” when they go home. When their son gets into trouble, rather than trying to understand the problem, they ship him away.
In addition, Bilger shows the development of an addiction through the eyes of a teenager. Addison starts by drinking too much, but he soon adds pills and eventually coke to his routine. He knows that he has an addiction, as there are few times in the book when he is not drinking or looking for a beer. However, as he drinks more and more and his life begins to unravel, he relies on the alcohol and pills to escape.
Addison is always running away from something, but he never runs into something good. Bilger successfully conveys this message without an overly sentimental story. Almost like a modern Holden Caulfield, Addison’s thoughts are always his own, and not those of a righteous boy trying to turn his life around. In fact, I was almost frustrated by his inability to change, but in the end it was necessary for the character. Also, I have never read a work in which angels represent an almost evil spirit. Nothing about Addison makes him the typical protagonist of a novel.
The major problem I had with the book was its use of numerous changes in setting. Addison skips between different times from an eight year period, providing little evidence whether he is having a flashback or in the present. I understand that this format is the most realistic, since our minds often jump from the present to different points in the past without warning. Nonetheless, the skipping around makes the work harder to comprehend, and distracts the reader from the story.
My only other qualm is related to the actually printing. This book is a self-published work, and as such has many typos. I know editors can miss these things, but Bilger never uses “too” correctly. This may seem like nit-picking, but I found the errors off-putting and quite annoying.
Overall, “For the Angels are Dead” is an interesting look at the life of a teenage addict. Even though it may not be the type of light reading that you want during the semester, it is good for a break.