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Can't win 'em all.
on August 16, 2013
Konrath wondered why this book seemed to perform so lackluster. I have some thoughts.
The reason it can fly even with broken wings is, it's Konrath. It has a great plot. It develops well. Believable characters the reader identifies with readily. It builds relentlessly. Konrath is one of the very few writers that can build a climax than couldn't possibly be worse…then it gets worse. Even when Konrath goobers, it's a really good goober.
Why 3 stars? I read too many other Konrath books. A 4 star is almost always a given for Konrath (this is his only 3 star I've read, IMO). His conversations between the Rabbi and the Priest. Quite good and well researched, but he has both use inferior conclusions. Would two guys supposed to be world class use such weak summations? And Konrath has both men—supposedly men of Faith—misunderstand Faith. The essence of Faith is not believing a divine fairy tale because it has God's name on it. It's much more fundamental than that. Faith is believing that God never lies, and that cles Father of Lies is the Other Guy; therefore God's Word is inerrant and infallible. Are there Jewish and Christian holy men that are that are ultimately this vapid? Sure, but they aren't world class. Nothing this insipid in Maimonides or Aquinas, I assure you. The quality of Konrath's research belies any plea of poetic license. The word is Goober.
OK, Konrath is not a creationist, he's writing a horror thriller, not a Sunday school book, so I'll give him that. But, the fulfillment of Fox Mulder's childhood dreams? Aw, geeze. Once a body reads astrophysicist Dr. Jacques Vallee's critique on the implausibility of the weird Visitors being from Out There; then reads his book Passport to Magonia; the Outer Space Visitor theory is dead. These…Things…have been right here with us, from the very beginning. But, it might be objected, he's telling a scary story, for Pete's sake, ease up. No, I'm sorry. It's like asking me to believe in a hot water balloon, that could be filled with boiling water, yet fly because all the bubbles rising to the top would somehow lift the balloon. The story has got to engender "the willing suspension of disbelief," and when it's doesn't…geeze. How do I know this? I read too many of Konrath's other books. If you can believe that stuff, the guy is good. Goober, the word is goober.
Finally, the Ending. Jethro Gibbs needs to smack him in the back of the head hard enough to make him stagger. I'm talking about the last couple paragraphs or so. Ever try to break wind silently on a crowded elevator, but it comes out a loud squealer? And everybody turns and gives you…The Look? Tolkien was a superb story teller, and he believed and practiced good endings. He invented a word, eucatastrophe, which means a potentially bad ending, but with a good outcome. For some excellent examples, read a half-dozen other Konrath books, and pay close attention to the Endings. Eucatastrophes. And then you read…this. Sorry, it's that word again…goober.
Konrath is one of my favorite writers of horror and thriller genres. Few writers can honestly, really, scare the willies out of adult readers. He can. He does. He even did in this here goober. But in this one, he kept repeatedly jerking it away from your brain. Then, in the last couple paragraphs, he whacks it in the head with a sledgehammer. Goober.