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The first in a three part series charting the events of an all-out biblical apocalypse by following the survivors in their quest to remain as such. Written by Michael McBride, this is a bloodthirsty horror story unsuitable for children, the elderly... everyone else..
Okay let me get this out of the way as soon as possible. This is a bad book. Just how bad I'm incapable of portraying with plain written language. If images help, imagine the experience of having your teeth drilled, but in literary form. Only its a pneumatic drill and they're all out of anaesthetic. Oh and the dentist is some sort of hideous reptile monster. (It'll all makes sense in the end.)
Purchasing this abomination I made the foolish error of just choosing a book from a shop with no prior information about it whatsoever. (Obviously I hadn't joined Dooyoo at this point.) Basing my decision purely on the perceived 'awsomeness' of the blurb and the admittedly grandeur-dripping title. Making a purchase like this is never a smart thing to do. To be fair on my past self though, the book's basic premise remains a solid and intriguing one, its just that this potential isn't fulfilled.
Before I dissect the story, I'll address my main gripe with this book. Its disgusting, and quite needlessly so. There's endless amounts of blood and guts and everything in between. Worse than that though is just a wretched veneer of decay that coats the story's every page. The writer effectively rubs your face in the foul rotten-ness that forms this book's motif. And I don't know about you, but I could do without that.
The title 'God's End' is ambiguous so I'll explain. This refers to the end that God brings (the bastard.) Not the end of God. To the plot then. Well, Its the Apocalypse and all the usual stuff is present and correct. You've got World War III, nuclear holocaust, the four horsemen, plagues, mass-extinction, some sort of Muslim Satan... wait hang on. While the story in part covers the apocalypse in a traditional fashion, it does introduce some innovations of its own. From this alone though I'm sure you'll agree this all sounds misleadingly epic and exciting. How little you know.
The actual meat of the story of The Fall: God's End focusses on a small assortment of survivors as they gradually come to terms with 'the fall.' Eventually coming together amidst its disastrous wake. They are each bound by the curious recurring phrase; "more man tears" and struggle against all the instruments and weapons of God to survive and solve the mystery of it. We are also introduced to two characters obviously fulfilling the saviour and destroyer roles. Think Jesus and Damien, only not. Standing in the survivors way are the jolly old four horsemen themselves. Some imagination has gone into each of the roles. Pestilence unleashes a horde of mosquitoes that kill people by drinking all their blood, for instance. (and yes that's exactly as stupid as it sounds.) Famine's influence causes dead people to return to life as rather silly blood-thirsty lizard creatures. Unfortunately the characters we follow are all so inherently dislikeable or otherwise blank and undeveloped that there's never any suspense as to whether or not the ridiculous leaping lizard men or the dastardly mosquitoes etc, etc get them. As I have suggested already the writer is much more interested in other things than character development. Like stench and decay and look, theres a dead body/ lots of dead bodies. Why not describe that for the next page or so. Part of you wants to be sick and part of you wants to laugh. All the more so as a dumb opening and middle descends into an utterly farcical denouement. Our heroes at one point end up riding dragon-like creatures. A conceit lifted quite shamelessly from Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings with their hippogriffs/giant eagles. And I'll spare you the revelation of what 'more man tears' actually means but rest assured its unbelievably stupid.
The writing throughout is without exception; weak, turgid, and laboured. Punctuation and spelling errors are widespread. Its just a mess in every conceivable way. One source of constant amusement is that there is no use of the word 'lay' anywhere in this book. In every instance the present tense 'lie' is used instead, so there was obviously some sort of Find and Replace mix up on Microsoft Word at some point. And then, what, the publishers didn't bother reading it. Well actually no, that makes sense otherwise why would they have released it?
So you get such grammar-busting gems as this;
"A good half-dozen bicycles lie on their sides.."
Hell, even on the very last page we find this cock-up:
"...even such a force could not knock him from his feet as his studied the armada..."
They obviously didn't care, so why then should we read it, when clearly even they couldn't be bothered to.
The sheer rankness remains the main issue though. Sure blood and guts has its place in fiction. That's not the problem. But it only works when its in context, helping to compliment and further develop a plot. In 'The Fall' this is completely reversed and the plot just seems to act as a flimsy, fleshless (ironically) excuse to facilitate the downright pathetic, fetishistic glorification of horrific violence and gore. Something in which the writer seems to revel. And revel all too much as well. To the point were its actually vaguely worrying. There is a mention of corpses on virtually every other page and believe me no detail is spared in describing them. Fluids are mentioned.
I would definitely categorise this as being of the Horror genre. Make no mistake though, this book at no point ever comes close to anything approaching, say, a sense of foreboding or basic necessities like atmosphere and character development. Pre-requisites if the horror element is to have any impact on you whatsoever. And The Fall has none of those things. Its not scary, in short.
Its all a bit sad really. Any impact the sheer revolting-ness could have wrought is negated by the gradually dawning realisation that what you're reading is little more than the equivalent of a small child scrawling a picture of little stick men stabbing each other, using copious amounts of red ink. You can almost picture the author doing this himself in the margins as he wrote the book, pen scribbling frantically, as he makes accompanying "Uurrrgh" noises.
And of course it gets even worse. There's more of this crap! There are two further books in the story. Fair enough I'll admit to a certain morbid curiosity as to how it all turns out, but on the whole I think I'll pass. Anyone who after reading this feels the compulsion to seek out the second rather than go and be sick is not someone I want to know.
The best way I can think of to describe the process of reading this disgrace of a novel, the only thing I can equate it to; is the pivotal moment in Shawshank Redemption when the main character is forced to crawl on his hands and knees through a quarter mile long, foul, stinking tunnel of sewage. But unlike Andy Dufresne in the film/book you don't come out clean on the other side. No, you emerge feeling bitter and not a little disgusted by the experience. If I've given the impression that this book in some way got to me then I suppose it did. I was just shocked that such a shambolic piece of writing ever made it to the shelves, let alone that they were allowed to write more.
So, to address this book in its own terms then I'll say that its a putrid festering, puss-dripping boil on the face of literature and that I'd rather strangle myself to death with my own intestines than read on further into this terrible, terrible trilogy.*
Aside from everything else I've mentioned this is just an awful book and I actually feel bad to have wasted so many words on it. In fact, can I take all this back and just say "Ugh"? That is an apt summation. Its bad enough that I almost feel like recommending you read it yourself. Just so you can see how monumentally awful it is.
Don't though, for the love of God, don't.
*-I'm just guessing the other two books are terrible. Call it a hunch.