It was just bad.
Others will disagree. They’re welcome to disagree. And maybe there’s some good stuff later on, but by the time I got to page 30, I simply couldn’t continue.
What ruined it for me?
First, a disclaimer: I love bad books. There’s a certain level of badness that entices me. Maybe watching all those Mystery Science Theater 3000’s warped me. I don’t know. I don’t mind bad writing , and can even revel in it! So bad writing, in and of itself, doesn’t usually scare me away.
OK, first off, there’s a certain kind of cover that just screams at me, “We’re trying to be cool but have no idea how!” Yes, I judged this book by its cover. I admit it. Yet, when I looked at the cover, with its computer-generated smoothness and “intense” main character, I felt like I was looking at a 90’s comic being published today. Simply trying so hard to be cool and missing the mark.
Then again, the cover is why I picked the book up in that crowded used bookstore. I love bad books, like I said. I scanned the back cover. Let’s see here: forces of darkness… Christos Champion… Lucifer, the Ha-Seraph… historically accurate Roman battlefields… present battles… Yeah, a mish-mash of elements that don’t look like they’d go together well.
Inside, a page-long endorsement from the president of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I’m sorry, but if I’m reading science fiction, that’s probably not the endorsement that will push me to read. Unless I expect it to be a bad book. You need to get an endorsement from a science fiction-type person, and Southern Baptists aren’t exactly known for their wonderful gushing at speculative fiction. Again, this just egged me on to buy the book — not because I thought it was good, but because I thought it was that bad.
The book is 170 pages long. Granted, this is book one of… six, apparently. Yet, the first 20 pages contain a list of characters and organizations.
Yeah. Not a good sign.
I slogged through the list, deciding to take the time to see what was in there.
The first character: Antichrist. And then a half-page of Biblical references. Oh good. I love my science fiction in that manner. Look, yes, I’m a pastor. I get doing things for the glory of God. But if you’re writing a story… just write the story. If someone wants to know more, put that info in the back. A novel is meant to be a novel, not a Bible study. (In the same way, a Bible study’s meant to be a Bible study, not a novel!)
Second character: the Nephilim.
Third “character:” a set of lycanthropy references from the Bible. Apparently King Nebedchudnezzzar from Babylon was a werewolf, according to this author. Who knew?
It goes on to denote various levels of demons, angels, Roman legionaries, modern mid-East politics, Illumanti references, space stations (apparently Satan is stationed somewhere in the asteroid belt, which is entirely controlled by his demonic hosts)… It also outlines that Noah’s flood was the second great deluge. The first happened before God created the world.
OK, all that aside… maybe, maybe the story would be good.
I don’t know. I couldn’t get more than ten pages into it. Something went screwy with the printing. My edition doesn’t have a single apostrophe or quotation mark in it. There’s places for them in the sentences — as in, there’s an empty space where they should be. For some reason, not a single one was printed.
I couldn’t read the thing. Grammar exists for a reason, and without those little marks… I couldn’t follow the story without putting in way more effort than I was willing to.
So what was it that broke me? Terrible theology? A worldview I can’t agree with? Terrible characterizations? Bad associations with who recommends it?
Maybe I’m just too much of a grammar Nazi?
I dunno. What’s your threshold for a book being so bad you can’t continue reading it?
There is one huge positive for this, though, and maybe it’s the reason I love bad books so much: If this thing can get published, I have hope, right? Sure, skill isn’t the only thing you need to get published — you need persistence, some zen good luck, a good editor whom you hit just right, as well as a great hook. But if this one can get published…
…I have hope, right?