|Submitted by Byron Merritt |
(Oct 26, 2006)
A certain amount of trust is demanded by readers whenever they pick up a title. Mostly they trust that the author will entertain them. But they also demand quality, consistency, and a story that flows well. And while Messiah of the Fallen Earth is entertaining on a basic prose level, it falls far short in the other categories.
The story surrounds Vincent, a man with big plans for the world now that "The Apocalypse" has hit. Most of his young life, he's been tortured by demons that he sees whenever it's dark. They call to him and make him do unnatural things (hurting people, bending solid metal bars, etc.). His life's work is now set before him as he creates a town outside of town called Pandemonia. With him he brings his forced lover Doll and anyone else he can scavenge. Pandemonia is a refuge of sorts for those who remain behind its secured walls, but all is a ruse as we learn Vincent's true goals: to rule the Earth with the aid of his internal demons.
The biggest strength of the book is Raven Jake's prose. Here's an example from page 75 where Vincent finds a kid who's dominated by his father: `I know what he is feeling. If that man were any other person in the world, it would be okay. He could kill him. Bt this is his father. The one who has stood above him for years. The memory of being dominated and told what to do breaks his mind into pieces until only the acceptance and pain remains. He desires to defy, but he desires to impress even more. It is a pitiful place to be. That place must be eradicated.' The problem even here, though, is that the prose is inconsistent. Occasionally it rips along smoothly and then stumbles terribly a few pages or paragraphs later. Mr. Jake obviously has talent, but it is unbridled and needs structure.
The lack of structure is even more evident in how the story's told. Initially, the entire novel was in a first person narrative but then, towards the end, the author falls into an omniscient viewpoint that made no sense whatsoever. There's also the problem of Rellick, Vincent's second-in-command whom we know little about, but then finally get insights into in the ending 3/4 of the book. This seemed completely backwards. If the author wanted us to identify at all with this person, he should've put this information in much sooner.
And the final problem I'll mention is troubles with spatiality. Too many times I felt completely lost in terms of where I was and what things looked like. One minute I may be showering with Vincent, and the next I'm outside the walls of his city. One minute it's cold outside with the characters' breath present on the air, and the next we're talking with people in t-shirts. These are just two examples but there were plenty more.
My ending comment has to be about self-promotion. I don't mind people doing whatever is necessary to further the sales of their books, but the reviews of this novel at Amazon.com are obviously from friends, family, or acquaintances of the author, as none of those who've reviewed it there have reviewed any other novel than this one.
Summation: Raven Jake does have prose talent, but he needs help in several other vital areas in order to produce a book of quality.