Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thrilling Creepiness

The RevelationsThe Revelations by Alex Preston

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thrilling Creepiness

I am not at all comfortable in the company of fundamentalist Christians, but I like to feel I’ve built up a degrees of tolerance over my many decades of exposure. Yet Cults and small extreme groups of religious bigots can easily drive me right to the edge of sanity. Small groups of controlling individuals give me the creeps, and the main characters in this book are just that: Smug, self-satisfied, hypocritical jerks who preach the wonderful help they’re giving children in Africa with their front side. Meanwhile their backsides are sucking up to powerful bankers and  business city gents who are spreading out into America whilst developing a brand name with which to market themselves. Backing the hypocrites whose monetarist and profit-driven policies generate the poverty they set out to ‘heal’.

Every time I’ve read a novel, up to now, I’ve found a character to identify with, but in this story I found it almost impossible to like any of the characters; and yet right through to the last lap I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

So without further ado, let’s head into the questionnaire:


  Before & During

Did it linger or stay in Mind?
            — Yes. I woke up at 3.30 a.m. Wondering what was going to happen next.
Dreaming About It?
            — Probably, because of my previous answer.
            — Yes of course. What a Question.
Did it Tweak Deep Past Memories?
            — Yes. Powerful memories surfaced of Billy Graham’s pretty little well-dressed young men threatening me with Hell-Fire. Bible passages underlined in red ink. All at the tender age of 12.

            — I wanted it to end in the sense I wanted to see this Cult collapse.
Glad you read it?
            — Definitely. I had a whale of a time with it.

Did it go "soggy" in the middle?
            — Only to the extent of being a French Omelette. The centre didn’t dribble.

Would I want to read another one of his?
            — Definitely.

If it was eBook, was it it well formatted? Were there chapter divisions?
            — Yes. It was all very good. All in all, I was thoroughly enjoying myself, convinced that we were up for a 5-star job.


Oh dear. And now for the Dreaded Ending and for the general after-taste left in my mouth by the story.
Very credible; highly and frighteningly readable at first, and intriguing too. And there were some really nice turns of phrase. I was so impatient  to find out how it would end. Yet the ending was terribly, terribly crass. I could hardly believe that after the story and the build-up, such a hum-drum ending would be pulled in. OK, the story itself wasn’t entirely believable. I see that now, but within the parameters of relative belief I’d put up some scaffolding which I was getting used to, and I quite liked clambering around between its poles. It wasn’t tailor-made for my mental architecture, but it wasn’t a bad fit either.
    Yet what happened with The Police? They were sniffing along the trail left by mobile phone messages nicely and it was just a matter of time before the thing reached the only conclusion it could logically reach, but that didn’t matter for me, because I was intrigued to see how the author was going to handle it. The story is, as far as I’m aware, set in the United Kingdom, and we know that The Police are having to make cuts. But we don’t expect that the serge of their uniforms is going wear so thin  that it’s not just fraying, but you can see strands of wool beginning to untwirl in your hands.  Oh dear! I never thought I’d see the day when I could reach out and poke a hole in the fabric of my childhood fantasies.
    And the dog? Oh no. The dog called Darwin was dumped and left for the team of characters to manage. It was passed from place to place and hand to hand. The characters remembered to put it out for a poo and wee, but if in a town no mention was made of doggie bags or bins; nobody had any dog food so it was just thrown slices of ham, or whatever it was the  characters were eating, apparently quite content with whatever it was given. Incredibly, Darwin never suffered from the runs or constipation. That’s two books I’ve read this week, each with a token dog whose behaviour was in danger of causing the tale completely to unravel.
    If a book’s standing is in the balance, a dog can make or break a story, or rather cause the scales to come down either way, but I don’t think that can be said to have happened here. After a splendid start and page-turning middle the main characters — never stronger than card-board cut-outs in the first place — thinned down from grove- to tissue-paper thin, becoming so transparent it was empty space.

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