Literary Indulgences

Last week I was a bit under the weather and missed the September meeting of my local book club, so today I finally got around to picking up the latest read. In my absence the group, which I gather included two new members along with some returnees from summer holidays, chose The Adversary: A True Story of Monstrous Deception by Emmanuel Carrére. While we’ve generally stayed away from non-fiction in the club so far, I’m not surprised something like this was chosen as there have been murmurs about reading a non-fiction for the past few meetings. I can’t say it’s something I would have chosen myself, but then again I joined the book club to read more books that I wouldn’t have given the time of day otherwise, so I’m looking forward to giving it a go – it’s pretty short anyway.

Of course, I couldn’t pick up just one book while I was in Waterstones – The Adversary was part of the Buy One Get One Half Price deal so I couldn’t resist adding a second. In that capacity I picked up Lost Boy by Christina Henry. I’ve previously read and enjoyed Alice by Henry so this is one I’m definitely  looking forward to, though I’ll probably read Red Queen by the same author before indulging in this new one. On my way to the till I happened to notice Simply the Quest by Maz Evans and remembering that Laoise had enjoyed Who Let the Gods Out? I felt there wasn’t any harm in adding that to the list, but Oh Dear!, it too was Buy One Get One Half Price. With some restraint I limited myself to adding just one more title to my growing shopping list; They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. I’ve seen it in a few emails and the like over the past few weeks so I figured it might be worth giving it a go.

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Book Review: ‘The Final Book: Gods’ by S.W. Hammond

(Originally published on Geek Ireland)

Published by Surf Star Media, The Final Book: Gods is S.W. Hammond’s first foray into an enticing world of gods and mortals. Spanning four millennia of mortal interaction with the divine, the story follows a path that will be both familiar to Assassin’s Creed fans and at the same time something all its own. For centuries members of the Greek pantheon have found themselves stranded on Earth after a childish argument between sisters causes an upheaval among the Gods. As a result of one brash action, mankind is thrust into an age of unprecedented corruption and greed of which the Gods are powerless to circumvent. Flash forward to the late 1960’s and Zeus is reaching the culmination of his work on Earth; Project Genesis. Using technical knowledge gained over the centuries, he has constructed a machine that can create a memory link between a person in the present and a past life. Now all he needs is the right person for the job, and in USAF pilot Martin Akadian he believes he has found him. But even the great King of the Gods is not infallible and what follows is an epic tale of loss and redemption that could spell the end for mankind.

The Final Book: Gods is a story told in three distinct parts, the earliest set 4,000 years ago around Mesopotamia and the latest in modern-day America. Hammond does a great job of interweaving these different stories in a manner that both makes sense and doesn’t compromise the narrative. The book easily glides between each era, unfolding the story in a manner that makes it easy to read and understand. Unfortunately it is this fluidity of storytelling that really makes the court document pieces stand out. They feel completely out-of-place, as they are written in a style entirely at odds with the rest of the book, though their importance to the overall story cannot be discounted. Thankfully the rest of the novel is written to a high standard, and these documents are short enough that they shouldn’t cause the reader to put the book down indefinitely.

A further minor issue I had with the book was the fact that all the characters were practically perfect; Each is introduced with reference to their beauty or intelligence. Of course each of the characters is supposed to be one of the ancient Gods, so some of that might be forgiven but it certainly stood out as something that grated throughout the book. It seemed the female characters defining trait was their beauty while the males frequently, especially Zeus/William, discussed philosophy with ease. Beyond this however, each character stayed true to the mythology upon which they were based: Hera was vengeful, Zeus was frequently unfaithful, but The Final Book: Gods does take the interesting route of showing them trying to overcome their past indiscretions. In their personas of William and Pom, Zeus and Hera appear more like a loving couple than they were in the old myths, while Andi and Chloe seem to have put the incident that accidentally caused Christianity behind them.

At its heart, The Final Book: Gods takes a very interesting view of religious development and as a result has a strong message to put forward. In a similar manner to Becky Chambers’ A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet the book takes a negative view of organised religion. It is perhaps for this reason that the publisher and author describe the book as “a controversial last chapter of humanity.” Should readers be able to get beyond this ‘controversial’ theme they will find an extremely well written tome that certainly deserves a place on any bookshelf. What’s more, S.W. Hammond has revealed that ‘Gods’ is intended as the first part in a trilogy of The Final Book titles, so there’s plenty more to look forward to in the future.

(Review copy provided by Net Galley)

The Best Laid Plans…

So, things definitely didn’t go to plan on the hobby front yesterday. I had planned to put some more work in on my Ork Kill Team and polish of All the Birds in the Sky for my Science Fiction & Fantasy book club, but I got held back at work for a few hours so my spare time was severely  limited. On the plus side, my second order of the week from Games Workshop arrived, including some shades that I needed for the Orks so I was able to get a little work done. As it stands I’ve gotten all the skin of my Leader and Specialist done along with most of the metal, so I’m pretty happy with the progress there. In fact I’m writing this post while waiting for the Nuln Oil shade to dry.

Ork

On the book club front (yes I left reading the book until the last moment) they’ve changed how we’re picking the next read. Instead of letting each member put forward a book to a general vote, we were simply given the choice of two books to choose from. Dark Eden by Chris Beckett won out in a close decision with Station Eleven. I can’t say I was overly enthused to read either book, but then that’s why I joined the club in the first place, to read things I otherwise wouldn’t pick up. In other book related news I should finish off All the Birds in the Sky soon, and maybe even United States of Japan which I had put down in order to get the club book read. Then it’s on to The Underground Railroad for my other book club (meets next Thursday) and then hopefully back-to-backing This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet.