I was asked to review this book, and I agreed, thinking that it was an interesting premise. And it DOES have an interesting premise, one that I was very curious about, but anything interesting about it was buried under the writing. This book is in desperate need of an editor. I think that with a good editor, this book could be quite good, but as it is, it was just… not. I tried, but I just could not finish this book. I could barely make it the 30% I read. And that was a struggle.
I don’t think I’m an overly critical reader… But I do have certain expectations…
For instance, I expect physics to be realistic. If it’s fictional world physics, I expect them to be well-explained and consistent. If they are real world Earth physics, I expect them to act like it. A bullet cannot make a 90 degree turn to enter through the temple on the side of the head and then exit through the back of the head. It just doesn’t happen. Gravity always pulls down and never sideways. Normal people cannot jump onto speeding cars, bounce off the windshield, over the roof, and then miraculously snag that little gap between the back window and the car’s trunk and then have a fight on top of the car as though it’s not moving. The character who did this actually had more trouble maneuvering on the moving car alone than he had when fighting 6+ ghosts off at once.
In addition to wanting the physics to be realistic, I also expect the characters’ actions to be realistic. These guys know that God is evil and whatnot, and so to escape that knowledge, they turn to recreational drugs when they aren’t actively in the process of trying to kill evil God… namely heroin. Here’s the thing though: Heroin addicts are not responsible people who can be relied upon to perform medical miracles and bring someone back from death. Not once. Not repeatedly and routinely. Sane people who actually value their lives don’t put that life in the hands of a heroin addict. Heroin is an opiate. This is the opposite of a stimulant. I think the author did more research on the actual process of preparing and shooting up than he did regarding what the drug actually does when it’s used. I have a hard time believing that someone who is jonesing for a hit could truly focus on complex medical procedures in order to save someone’s life. I also have a hard time believing that someone who just shot up (and then almost died himself) could then participate in a fully conscious and energetic manner in a high-speed getaway.
So much of this was just unbelievable. I wanted to like this book. Like I said before, I thought the concept of an evil, hungry God was intriguing, and Near Death Experiences being used as a method of fighting him is even more so. But in the end, I just couldn’t get past the writing, the over-descriptiveness, the unreality of the things that should have been constant laws of nature. I have no problem suspending my disbelief to allow for the NDEs and ghosts and hellish angels and demonic bureaucrats. Well… the last bit doesn’t require much suspension, but I digress. I could go along with all of that, if it weren’t for the writing making it so hard to actually READ. Here’s an example:
“Caiaphas had elegant tastes. He didn’t just adorn himself in the best clothes, eat the best food, and drink the finest wines because he wanted to portray an image; Caiaphas could care less what mere mortals thought. Caiaphas surrounded himself in the finest because he loved the indulgences of the mortal plane just as much as he despised the more oily and odorous corners of civilization… and this bar certainly qualified as the latter. He shuttered to think about what the alcohol-soaked and peanut-shelled floor of the establishment would do to the stretched baby calf-skin leather of his new Salvatore Ferragamo shoes; serving God on the mortal plane may have provided the benefit of enormous wealth, but it had its drawbacks as well.
He stepped lightly, careful to avoid the dampest areas of the floor, and pulled out his durable, double-ply, English-style handkerchief, making the regrettable but graceful decision to sacrifice it in the name of saving his sleek, flat-front burberry cotton trousers, placing it on the decaying, splintered bench of the booth where Officer Roche’s ample frame was docked.
Roche barely looked up from the red sauce coating the chicken wings clutched between his meaty paws and blubberous opposable digits. Some of the sauce had made it into the several-days beard growth that forested Roche’s convex cheeks; Caiaphas briefly wondered how many days the sauce might remain there.”
I think that the raw potential is there… but it needs a lot of work.