This isn’t going to be an easy one. If that doesn’t get you aware of what is going to come, you haven’t been dining with me often. The worst part is that I can’t blame the poor state of this contemporary paranormal/religious apocalyptic meal entirely on the (quite young) chef. Well, I could, but that would be unfair. What The Book Before Revelations should illustrate above anything else is what happens when a vanity press hiding itself as a proper publisher pulls the wool over the eyes of a young writer just trying to get into the business and create his first recipe.
Before we dive into the depths here, let’s recite the Starving Review creed:
- I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
- I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible
As always, let’s take a look at the positives. First, there are some creative ideas here. The core of this meal is drawn from Christian myth and apocalyptic theology, but taken in a more ‘fantasy-anime’ light. Angels are as likely to watch television as often as work miracles and the mechanics of Heaven and Hell have a creative spark as well. The core metaplot here could work well and there are some intriguing character ideas that could be explored if other things were well in hand.
Everything else, unfortunately, is rough and poorly cooked. The pacing is insanely fast, with plot points introduced and discarded almost as quickly as they are introduced. Characterization is somewhat random, especially for the main character. The supernatural aspects are vaguely explained in some areas but minutely examined in others and form an unstable base for the action. Stylistically rough, there are random tense changes in the middle of sentences, poorly laid out dialogue, and a lack of distinctive character voice, with all the characters sounding like modern teenagers, even millenia-old archangels. We won’t talk about some of the possibly disagreeable concepts, like a poorly thought-out idea of what ‘genderless’ means and a ‘good’ angel having sex with a teenager.
Normally, this would land squarely on the author and editor (or lack of editor). Yes, you could argue that this is still the case here. Youth can’t entirely be allowed to explain away the problems here, because it has been released for public consumption. However, a look at the publisher reveals that the company involved is one known to be a vanity press disguised as a traditional publisher, charging prospective authors hundreds to thousands of dollars for services that can be gotten free or inexpensively for a starving writer. Most importantly, these presses are renowned for their lack of judgement, accepting all submissions regardless of quality without offering editorial services to the author.
An older chef should know better, should know that ANY ‘publisher’ or ‘agent’ that charges an upfront fee is not to be trusted. For a teenager, though, who is covered with praise from one of these fraud presses, why wouldn’t they go for it? Instead of a professionally edited, properly worked out meal, the young author gets a rushed-out, half-baked piece that does them absolutely no good going forward with their prospective career.
Well, there’s no way to avoid it. I have to give the final verdict, and I have to give it based on the actual book. The Book Before Revelations has some interesting ingredients, but the half-baked process leaves it curdling in the stomach. If the chef were to break this down to the base ingredients and rewrote it with the guidance of the right people and an editor, this could turn into something truly great, but right now, I cannot recommend this to anyone.
FINAL VERDICT: ** (Some interesting ingredients, but the half-baked process leaves it curdling in the stomach!)