The Author’s Voice:
Dunwoody paints a picture of Hell like I have rarely seen in any book, apart from Dante’s Inferno. He writes his characters with a confidence that makes the reader do more than suspend disbelief; he makes you believe you’re getting the inside scoop on God, Satan, Christ, and the war between Heaven and Hell.
He seamlessly blends sci-fi, fantasy, and religion into a story without becoming nihilistic, preachy, or pushing any agenda – his only purpose is the story. Normally, when you see Hell in a story it becomes a political statement, or so pessimistic that it’s hard to read. (The worst offender being Damned, by Chuck Palahniuk) I loved the purity in the storytelling.
3 Men (The “Egos”) make a pact with Satan to start a war in exchange for immortality and power. Rather than fulfill their end of the bargain, they all go into hiding, (Who doesnt know that Satan is a liar?) and live as immortal fugitives running from agents of Hell.
It sounds like a few other stories Ive heard before, and parallels can be drawn from a multitude of sources; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Dante’s Inferno, C.S. Friedman’s Crown of Shadows, and even Wrist Cutters: A Love Story. Dunwoody seems to have drawn from everywhere to populate Hell and Purgatory – all of it feels familiar.
Two of the Egos are caught (read: killed) and taken before Satan. They are offered a second deal; help Satan collect the third Ego, and earn a place in Hell. (You know, a title where you serve more, and suffer a bit less.)
From there, it’s off to Purgatory and worlds beyond with a Werewolf, a chain-smoking detective out of a noir novel, 2 immortals (Egos) representing the East and West, and Satan’s girlfriend Sue Christmas (aka “Suicide”).
The Technical Stuff
While Dunwoody’s fearlessness in his writing makes for an amazing look behind the curtain of death, it has consequences. He bravely jumps from character to character expecting the reader to keep up with every transition. In one portion of one chapter the reader was put into the drivers seat of four main characters. I had to go back and read several sections over again because the narration switched perspective and I didn’t pick up on it fast enough.
While 80% of the time the descriptions are smart and well placed, sometimes, I couldnt tell where people were. This might have something to do with the “head hopping” that happens throughout the book. It happens often enough to distort understanding of the backdrop of the scene. Sometimes, it’s just because it was omitted or forgotten.
I spotted a few spelling mistakes, but nothing tragic. The formatting seemed to be alright, and grammar/punctuation/structure was good. (I say “good” because it’s better than mine, and I’m not really qualified enough to say anything better or more pointed.)
It’s really the head hopping that hurt the read. I wanted to finish the story, but I kept putting the book down to come back to it another time.
2 1/2 Stars
Overall I think the story was AMAZING – if – you can tolerate the perspective switching between paragraphs. Switching between chapter breaks is fine, and sometimes it’s alright mid-chapter with a little
to cue the change or a double
space, or something. Anything other than doing it from one paragraph to the next in a scene with a lot of information, dialogue, or action. (And all of the scenes have all three in spades.)
The perspective switching mid-paragraph, or head hopping, could have been fixed with the help of a good editor and is the biggest failing of the book. Dont get me wrong – I loved the story. Some of it was just plain genius. Unfortunately, it got really hard to read at times making it so that sometimes my focus was on figuring out who the POV character was instead of on what makes the book truly fantastic – David Dunwoody’s ability to make you have sympathy for the Devil. (Well – some of his agents, maybe not the big guy himself – but it sounded way better to say it that way.)
Again I have to say that this is a 5 star story, that’s going to end up with a score lower than it deserves. I believe that many (if not most) people will be able to get through the rough patches – and will want to – to get to the end of this incredible story. The pay off is worth it, but the struggle is very real at times, so I had a hard time deciding between 3 1/2 and …
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