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on Feb. 21, 2014 :
Grover and Riley have put together a fairly interesting read with this book, and judging from the number of higher ranking ratings and reviews, a lot of people out there have enjoyed it. While there were many elements I rather liked, the majority of the story for 'If God Doesn't Show' fell flat for me.
The underlying plot for 'If God Doesn't Show' is a unique and interesting story involving both Lovecraftian mythos and Christian mythology. At first the combination surprised me, having not really seen it before, and I give full cred to Riley and Grover for the concept, it's an amazing one. The one flashback to Cthulhu vs the angels was beautifully done and brought to mind very clearly the sheer epic nature of the battle that was happening.
Other elements, such as the shadow creatures, were also nice touches, and their purpose was a nice surprise when it is finally revealed later on in the novel. I wouldn't have seen that coming, and when it did, I was impressed.
That said, however, I found that 'If God Doesn't Show' very much feels as if the authors tossed a large number of elements into a blender and tried to see if they would blend. As much as certain elements like the angels and fallen angels were great to add to the story, they play next to no roll in the story and could have easily been taken out or replaced with a preexisting element. (like the Twins for the angels, or cthulhu monsters for the one fallen angel they encounter) I understand that Blount exists in an angel rich storyline, and it would be a shame to leave them out. However, if a reader has not read the previous works including Blount, then the angels come across as mentioned above rather than an integral element.
There were some ups and downs with the characters within this work. Some characters, like Sam and Casey, were handled really well and saw some good character growth. (Sam especially) However, the main characters, Archer and Blount, were a problem for me. Archer felt almost one dimensional, while Blount felt like he was being shoe-horned into the novel. Archer didn't seem like he should have held the initial job at the start of the novel. If your wife, in a very memorable incident, tells you that your daughter's bf is trouble, and then something happens, why wouldn't you go back and ask her how she knew? Sure, she's crazy, but she also knew what was going to happen before it did. You guard the president, you're obviously a smart man, so why wouldn't you explore that lead?
Blount shows up as a character in the novel about 90 pages in, and slowly becomes the primary protagonist from then on. The fact that he is not in the first half of the novel gives the story a lopsided feel to it. More so since you haven't seen anything magical or myth related has really shown up before then. (except maybe the cult, and even then they just seem like a normal cult) The reader goes from what they suspect is a normal world that is suddenly going to hell due to an island rising in the ocean to multiple lives, psychics, angels, demons, God, gods, so on and so forth. This would have worked a lot better if Blount has been included earlier in the novel beyond a phone call.
But as I mentioned, the secondary characters are well done, and each behaved in a realistic and believable way. Some were handled well enough that it was a shame when they died, and more than a couple were frustrated me when they were given what amounted to a footnote death despite the amount of face time they got earlier in the novel. (such as the one that died in the helicopter crash)
In the end, the thing that got me the most with 'If God Doesn't Show', were the details. Though small, they built up fairly quickly and ruined a lot of the book for me. Some of elements were things like:
-The man who got shot in the belly, yet it somehow hit the lungs.
-The fact that okay is done as OK. Though correct, visually it is a gunshot to the eye when reading and gets annoying. (especially where they show up multiple times on a page)
-The runes that Blount placed that ended up containing the possessed person at the end of the novel, placed there earlier according to him yet I couldn't find reference to it even when I went back and reread that part of the story.
-Casey saying that the last time she saw her mom, the mother didn't recognize her, yet from what the reader sees, the last time they visited the mother she clearly knew who her daughter was. (unless they visited between that visit and the kidnapping)
-The deus ex machina ending, both in the false climax and the true climax of the book.
Yet despite what I mention above, 'If God Doesn't Show' was an okay book. As mentioned, I enjoyed aspects of it and there were things in it that both amazed and worked really well. I wish certain things had been integrated better though, as that would have turned an average book into a great book for me. And really, this book has gotten a lot of higher scores, so there are people that enjoy it, so you might as well too, despite what I mentioned above.
So, if you are interested in reading a unique take on Lovecraft's mythos, pick this book up. Both authors have done some amazing things in this story, and it is worth a read just for that fact. If you tend to get bogged down with details, then you may want to shy away from this one. An average book, this is still worth a read.
(reviewed long after purchase)