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The Pit: Watchmaker's Hell: Book One Paperback – February 4, 2016
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
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From Publishers Weekly
Barnes’s debut is a disappointing, meandering story populated with a jumble of characters who aren’t sure where they are or what they’re supposed to do. The Pit is the entrance for those condemned to hell, run by Marcus, a 2000-year-old Roman. He is recruiting the newly dead to fight on his side against Virgil Offgood, a Chicago cop who controls an area of hell called the City. Deborah Molinsky, a Jewish prisoner of Auschwitz, is doing her own recruiting; she believes the residents of the Pit can be redeemed. She converts Heinrich von Helldorf, a Nazi guard from Dachau, and Misha, an Atlantic slave ship captain. Marcus, Virgil, and Deborah compete to win over London lawyer Nadia Patel, Los Angeles teenager Allison Yates, German history professor Christoph Schmidt (who believes Allison is the reincarnation of his wife), Korean housewife Yi Soo, and American soldier Avery Fox. Piecemeal worldbuilding, incomprehensible character backgrounds, the glacial pace of revelations, inconsistent points of view, and an unresolved ending jettison a promising concept. (BookLife)\n
Top customer reviews
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This is also a book I found highly flawed but yet incredibly interesting. Disclaimer: There is a LOT of unnecessary exposition in this novel. In essence it takes what should have been the first act of a single novel and forces it into a sub-par book because of the padding. Momentum is a struggle as you're bouncing between far too many back-stories, and we lose the ability to learn about these characters from their actions because we're spending most of our time in the past.
Taking all of that into consideration however, there is also a truly unique vision and world created here, with its own ideology completely different from what most people would imagine as "heaven" and "hell." Barnes can definitely write, and I was impressed with how easily she transitioned from the POV's of a war-criminal nazi to a Muslim to a Roman centurion. You can tell a lot of time, tears, and love went into the creation of this story, and Kudos to Barnes for tackling something so big and audacious.
Despite its flaws with pacing and an all-you-can-eat buffet of exposition, I'm glad I picked this one up. Quite different from anything I've before read, it'll be interesting to see where her choices go for the next installment. An ambitious 3.5 out of 5 stars.
<I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review>
The character development in this book is exceptional. Each profile is given an extensive history and backstory. With that said, I feel like some of it is too much. This is an extremely long narrative and would serve its purpose better by cutting out some of it. As we navigate through perspectives there is a lot of rehashing of events both past and present and sometimes it becomes too redundant. This book shows there can be too much of a good thing. But honestly, this was my only complaint.
The story was told well and was always leaving me wanting more. There are a few twists that I wasn't expecting and I was left wondering if what I was reading was the truth just like the characters. It's fascinating to be left feeling betrayed because I often times felt very immersed in the plot.
Without giving too much away, my favorite sub plot was the reconnection of two characters, one who was the reincarnated lover of another. For most of the story I felt very drawn to them and their connection. I was rooting for them and vicariously living through their rekindling romance.
There is lots of foul language as well as sexual content both being discussed and implied acts. There are also a lot of religious overtones. The author goes into doctrines of many different belief systems. Besides being a bit too wordy in parts I did enjoy the book. I give it a 4 out of 5 stars and I think I would've given it a 5 if it had been edited more.
The group encounters a mysterious waterfall that leads elsewhere, and characters who seemingly don't belong in this place. And what crime have they all committed to have landed here? Where is God in all of it, and is what they come to think of as heaven worse than where they are now? The characters are well-drawn and complex, and The Pit ponders questions of redemption, justice, and sacrifice, and whether any of it matters in a place such as this.
This is an interesting take on the afterlife, and a good read. There is a place called The Pit in the novel- I still don't know what to make of it. Is it just a human refuse dump? a testing ground? I'm interested to find out. I took a while reading it, as I wanted to catch everything and try and figure things out. Look forward to the next novel.
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