Friday, May 29, 2009

Sons of God

Title: Sons of God

Series: Sons of God #1

Author: Rebecca Ellen Kurtz

Genre: Supernatural Suspense

Excerpt from the prologue of Sons of God:

668 B.C. – Nineveh

“Tagas just executed your father.”

Raechev swiveled her head to look behind her shoulder at her half-brother Caleb before gazing down over her bathwater—the imported lotus petals completely covered her.

“I’m modest.” She signaled for him to walk around the enormous amber coated bath. “And don’t call him my father. Baalim allowed himself to be worshipped as a god. He deserved to die.” She derisively motioned dismissing the two slave girls.

Caleb waited for them to leave. “You call Ishtar your mother, I don’t see the difference—on both counts. Both are evil. Both deserve to die.” Crossing his arms over his chest, he glowered, towering his 6’4” frame over her. His dark chestnut hair belied his Nephelim ancestry, but his brightly jeweled eyes, the color of sapphires, gave him away. Caleb’s bloodline was one generation, or one human away, from aging. His deceased father had been a sixth generation Nephelim with two mortals in his ancestry.

Their mother, Ishtar, the self-proclaimed goddess of Nineveh, had executed Caleb’s father primarily for adorning sackcloth and bending his knee to Elohim in repentance from Jonah’s prophesying. Caleb, who had committed the same act, had fled the city, fearful for his life.

Raechev stiffened at Caleb’s words. “I will not kill my mother.”

An earth-bound female Nephilim seeks redemption before the executioner of her race can kill her.

The Craft: There are few things I find more disappointing a book or movie than a great premise unfulfilled. For a story to have such potential, such promise and then fizzle in the implementation—it is like being served an gourmet appetizer followed a main meal from a second-rate fast food restaurant. Unfortunately, this is the meal served up by Sons of God, a disappointment made all the greater when it would have taken so little to vastly improve the quality.

For Sons of God does have an intriguing premise of millennia-old Nephilim wandering the earth coupled with extensive research. The characters themselves were complex while the plot had some interesting twists. In short, all the elements of a great story exist.

But a fascinating premise, a few plot twists, and solid characters doesn’t equate with telling a great story any more than high quality ingredients guarantees a gourmet meal. It helps, but how you combine the ingredients is just as important.

If this was the only flaw in the novel—this failure to weave a compelling story together—then perhaps the captured imagination would still make a taste worth the while. However, a multitude of mechanical errors and other flaws in basic story-telling technique strains the reader’s patience even further.

There are punctuation, spelling and grammatical problems all over the place, and even a couple formatting issues (e.g. an extra text that split a paragraph mid-sentence, which left me confused for several minutes.) Redundancies abound, and the point-of-view switches so frequently (sometimes every 2-3 paragraphs) that I felt in danger of mental whiplash. And while the research is fascinating, it sometimes felt overbearing, dragging down the story and giving the appearance that the story was merely written to showcase Ms. Kurtz’s findings.

So while I believe there is a good story in Sons of God, it was lost and buried beneath a multitude of problems, many of which are the inexcusable mistakes of poor editing.

The Content: After my criticism of the craft, there’s nothing more I would like to do than praise the content as this edifying material worth getting to past the craft problems. Instead I find I must recommend a cautious approach.

There are some excellent themes of God’s love, mercy, and justice as well as a clear portrait of unseen evil and how to deal with it. However, the climax felt off-cadence and there is an underlying darkness that leaves me uneasy. I cannot fully pinpoint the cause, unfortunately. Perhaps in Ms. Kurtz’s zeal to show us evil for what it is she has taken us too far?

To compound the problem, there are several occurrences of swearing—only one of which was marginally justifiable—and some sexually provocative scenes which felt out of place and provided more information than necessary.

Summary: While I believe the author’s heart and intentions were in the right place, Sons of God falls short in many arenas, both in craft and content. Therefore, I must advise most readers to by-pass this book, as it is not well-written and the content requires much spiritual maturity (I’d recommend adolescent or above) and a deep understanding of Scripture.

Rating: Craft—0.0, Content—1.0, Overall—1.5 out of 5 stars

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