By David M. Humphrey Sr.
Once I read that, I knew this book was bad beyond redemption.
Some books are so bad they cycle around to good again, as long as the reader seizes how bad the book is and laughs at it. This book goes beyond that. This book is so bad that I would be afraid to burn it, lest its ink pollute the air I breathe and cause me to die. In the interest of avoiding any of the sundry mistakes made by the author in my own writing, I’m going to go a little bit more in depth than I normally would in a review.
First off, the main characters in the story are in doubt until a good quarter way through the book. In the first few chapters, Humphrey lays out the same amount of background for every single character introduced. It doesn’t matter if the character is a nurse that’s “on screen” for one line of dialogue; she still gets a page of background for the reader to enjoy.
Why would an author do that? As a reader, I was lost as to whom I should pay the most attention to. I understand how an author will build up a world and have full backgrounds for many, many characters. However, I felt that Humphrey wanted to show all the work he’d done in developing all his characters and simply vomited his work onto the page. A good author will tell what’s needed when it’s needed. Don’t confuse the reader!
The opening scenes focus on a woman in an emergency room as well as the doctor that serves as her surgeon. (Well, I figured that out later, anyway.) The woman remains as the main character; the doctor, after pages of background and building up of his character, vanishes for the bulk of the remaining novel. He returns as a villain later, but spends most of his time “off screen.” This problem is related to the first; his return held no “oomph” at all. Why build up a character and not use them?
Rather than use the doctor as the main villain, about halfway through the novel Humphrey introduces a new character. This man is truly villainous and fits well in the role. He has a tie to the main character. Why even bother with the doctor when a better villain already exists?
The main character, Virginia Sills, remains unconscious through the opening scenes. The reader is treated to a description of Virginia leaving her body, meeting her guardian angel, and facing down demons who try to harvest her soul. These scenes show a glimmer of promise. The demons are a bit cliché in their appearance and actions, but the battle is well written.
However, Virginia serves as a wholly unlikable character. The angel orders her to get back in her body, and she refuses. Throughout the novel, Virginia makes nearly every stupid decision she can. “What? Get back in my body and stay alive? Naw, thanks.” I wanted to throttle her two pages after her introduction.
Matt, her guardian angel, is little better in the likable department. His supervising angel offers help, and he refuses. “I need to do this myself.” Rather than actually doing the best thing to protect the woman and getting heavenly help he can trust and will do the job, he puts his ego first. Nice angel.
Granted, his character arc shows him learning that lesson and eventually calling in help. However, particularly for the first hundred pages or so, that character flaw simply grates, particularly as it doesn’t appear as if it will be addressed.
Now, these things serve as examples of bad writing. The book also holds terrible theology.
For instance, any hunch we might get is actually the Holy Spirit whispering in our ears. If we deny a hunch, unless it goes against what God has revealed in his Word, we are sinning. Talk about laying a burden on souls, not to mention the physical danger that can be brought about through such a thought!
God created nine planets before the first day of creation, and when some angels rebelled, it destroyed the first world and God “got it right” with this creation. So, we’ll just ignore “It was very good” from Genesis, apparently.
Oh, and the Gospel? Never appears. The author conveys a great respect for God’s Word. He uses God’s name with great respect. Yet, I do not recall any mention of Jesus dying for sins. Perhaps it was buried. Perhaps it was assumed. Yet, Virginia needs this message spoken to her. Instead of talking about Jesus on the cross, Matt shows her scenes of the fall of the angels. Nice.
And… zombie angels.
Matt, at one point, shows Virginia a flashback of the fall of Lucifer. By the way, there’s no reason in the plot for him to do this other than to “prove that there is a God.” I think the writer had an idea and wanted to show he could write it. I’ll admit, the flashback scenes are very impressively written, but they hold no connection to the rest of the novel.
Anyway, we are treated to a scene of Lucifer creating a new creature: death. This creature “eats” one of Lucifer’s servants, killing him cell by cell in a very vivid scene. (Oh, yes, angels were originally physical creatures as well.) Once death has “eaten” the angel, it animates the corpse (Angels leave corpses!) and continues to live in it.
One thing I did enjoy theologically: the angels were a mix of races. So often in art, angels are merely Caucasian. Not so here! Matt, when he takes on flesh, is an African American. Revelation says that every nation, tribe, language, and people will rejoice before the Throne in heaven. While we’re not specifically told that angels have different “races” in the way we see them among humans, it makes sense to me and reflects well that should angels take human form, they would reflect our diversity, as well.
So, the characters and the theology are bad. The writing style leaves a lot to be desired. Is at least the plot any good?
The demons and angels are battling over Virginia’s soul because she is pregnant. The baby will be the first African-American President of the US. That’s the plot.
As a science fiction concept, I am comfortable with a malevolent force attacking a pregnant woman when the child will be important; it’s actually been a story that’s been told for a long time. Even as a Christian story, I can handle it. After all, Satan prompted Herod to attack Jesus when he was just a baby!
The plot idea isn’t a bad one, overall. However, carrying it to fruition is not the author’s strong suit. As already mentioned, a lengthy flashback to the fall of Lucifer does not aid the larger plot, despite it being the best-written portion of the novel. A great amount of space is dedicated to the police investigation surrounding Virginia; all of the officers wind up dead without ever meeting Virginia. Dead-end plot involvement! At the conclusion of the climax, the big bad guy survives and runs away. An angel mentions his death in the epilogue, just like that.
So, bad plot execution, bad character, bad prose choices, bad theology. Could it possibly get any worse?
Well, I could read the font. That was good.
I will not allow my children to read this book, in fear their view of literature will be so tarnished as to scare them from any reading ever again. No, I take that back. I may have they read it so they appreciate whatever they read in school more; really, what you’re required to read isn’t that horrible. Just compare to this!
So, don’t find this book and read it, unless you want an education in bad literature.
I’d like to forget I ever read it.