By now Angel's exodus from Buffy at the end of season three to start again is Los Angeles is cold news. Even so, this novelization of the Angel series premiere still has a considerable amount of power. Here is the initial gathering of Angel, Doyle, and Cordelia - still not quite sure what to do with themselves, but on the road to 'help the helpless.'
One of the things that I didn't notice when watching the show, and even on the first reading of Nancy Holder's excellent rendition, is that Angel really does recapitulate is initial time in Los Angeles. Not quite as down and out, obviously, but footloose and unsure of himself. He wants to do something, but his past seems to keep his present from happening.
Not just his immediate past with Buffy, but his whole experience as a vampire, from Darla and Drusilla onwards. So my first reaction, which was that the script has way to many flashbacks was right, but for the wrong reason - something has to wake Angel from this reverie before he falls into complacent, bad habits and yields to the temptation of human blood. Of course, that is Doyle's purpose.
Holder manages to fill in the inner details of motivation that are missing from the screenplay. When we watch we have only the spoken word and the expressiveness of the actor to work with. What we have here is a novelization that really does dig beneath the surface to uncover something of the inner workings of Angel's mind - as well as provide an impressive amount of history.
I've read my share of novels based on scripts, and, too often, they simply attempt to redeliver the dialog with barely narrative to fill in the action. Holder goes well beyond this simple approach, and this story would live on its own, even if the series premiere never had happened. Whether you saw the season start or not, 'City of' is worth reading.