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Saturday, February 6, 2010
Review: Original Sin
Title: Original Sin
Author: Allison Brennan
Page Count: 453
Genre: paranormal, suspense, thriller
Copy for review provided by Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc.
50 words or less: A truly psycho bitch is trying to unleash the Seven Deadly Sins for her own gain. A bunch of unlikeable people try to stop her.
Well, friends and neighbors, it's finally happened. A book has come along that was bad enough to rate among my lowest reviews, and yet, was so bad that I couldn't even finish it. This presents a dilemma for me- typically I don't write reviews of books I haven't finished, but yet I really feel compelled to write about the portion of the book that I did force myself to get through. More than likely though, you aren't here to read about my hang ups and issues, so I'll just preface this entire review by saying no, I did not finish the book, and yes, this review is based on the section of book that I did read. With that said, let's begin.
Original Sin has all the raw materials with which to build a really interesting story. Demons. Witches. Renegade priests. Blood. Guts. Gore. Really, the stage is set for an interesting, fast-paced story with good worldbuilding, complex but interesting and sympathetic characters, a multifaceted and diabolical villian; in a strange parallel universe where reading this book was an enjoyable experience, I can almost see myself standing up to shout hooray at the sheer perfection of this book. Almost.
For that to happen in this universe, though, ANY OF THOSE ELEMENTS WOULD HAVE TO BE THERE. YES, I'M SHOUTING. Original Sin is a cure for insomnia at best and a boring descent into rambling hallucinations at worst.
The story centers around Moira O'Donnell, reformed witch and "supernatural investigator", and her attempts to find and kill her mom, Fiona O'Donnell, a cheerfully unreformed witch who's also trying to claw her way to immortality through human sacrifice and black magic. Talk about Mommy issues. Moira is a tortured soul, a fact which gets brought up about every other paragraph for one reason or another. I have no issues with characters having complicated or dark back stories or issues in their past that must be overcome, but there does come a point where back story has to yield to "now story," a concept that this book never seems to grasp.
The supporting cast of characters- Anthony the dickweed demonologist, Skye the dimwitted Sheriff (sidebar: is it a requirement that female law enforcement officers in paranormal fiction aren't EVER under any circumstances allowed to ask intelligent questions? Is that written down somewhere?), Jared and Lily, the ridiculously simpleminded teenage lovebirds, a bunch of priests whose names I don't care to remember, and probably others I'm forgetting- are flat, lifeless, and boring. I found myself in turns dumbfounded by the things they'd say or
do or just disinterested in why they were even in the story to begin with.
Rafe, the (I think) hero of this story, has pretty much no character development: he busts out of the intensive care unit of a hospital and defuses a demon summoning, but after thirteen chapters all we know about him is that he survived a deadly attack on a religious community perpetrated by demons and leading to the aforementioned coma. Thirteen chapters in (how far I made it before I finally tossed this book aside in frustration) and this is all that's happened.
There might be room for some plot development or action or SOMETHING if Moira and Anthony (the dickweed demonologist) could stop info-dumping for half a second and let someone else talk for a change. There are a lot of religious themes and undertones woven throughout the story, which had the potential to be really cool, but instead felt like those required seminars and lectures in college that were always held in the smelliest rooms with the worst ventilation. If anything, they made me less interested in the story, instead of adding layers and nuance. Moira especially was in need of a serious trampling by the Shutuposaurus.
There he goes, ready to save us.
I actually had to create a grade category to account for this book. Giving a letter grade seemed kind of inappropriate, since even the worst books I've graded, I've at least finished. With this book, I didn't even get that far. Therefore, this book is getting labeled precisely as it is: Could Not Finish. I feel like that's an accurate rating, since So Unenjoyable I Wanted To Take It Out Behind The Woodshed And Shoot It is kind of long and cumbersome.
Overall Grade: Could Not Finish
Whew! That was intense, but now it's onward and upward to other (hopefully better) books. I'm a believer, though, in ending on a high note, so here's a little something to hopefully cleanse your palate.