Necessary Evil and the Greater Good

by Adam Ingle

25 Words or Less:

An angel and a demon, besties for millennia, hatch a plot to defy their respective bosses and finally begin the apocalypse — at last, thank God!

Cover Art:

Outstanding. I’ve been sat here staring at it, turning my Kindle upside-down and back all morning.

Formatting, Grammar & Spelling:

Mostly professional, a few paragraphing slip-ups; no errors noted, American English.

Prose:

This is a straight forward, readable read — but prepare yourself, because it does go on. Lot’s of big, hefty paragraphs to wade through and I’d have to say they’re not filled with daring prose so far, but there have been a few humorous highlights (the use of ETA to refer to “Estimated Time of Apocalypse” was one, and the notion that the doomsday clock had been blinking on 12:00 for centuries “like the VCR still sat on top of the television at almost everyone’s Grandmother’s house”… that was a good paragraph, that one).

Characterisation & Dialogue:

Mestoph is a demon, but not the one you’re thinking of — named for his over-achieving demonic father, Mephistopheles, Mestoph lacks the really deep-seated rage and hatred to make a name for himself in the unhallowed halls of Hell Industries, number one employer of the damned with, one would imagine, really good job security for all its low level staff whether they want it or not. Leviticus — and brace yourself for a surprise — is an angel, toiling away for Heaven, Inc. top rival in the End The World On Our Terms market. Sounds like the kind of jobs you’d want out of, don’t they? Sounds like they both would agree.

After these we meet Marcus and Stephanie, love-lorn coffee drinker and the elfin barrister of his dreams, and Sir Reginald Pollywog Newcastle III, a Scots Terrier, who spontaneously, mysteriously, entered Marcus’s life three years ago and who he (thankfully) calls “Sir Regi”…

The dialogue so far is functional rather than sparkling, and there’s an awful lot of setting up going on which frankly I started to skim, but suffice it to say that Marcus’s professional life reads painfully like that of our angelic and demonic others, and if Stephanie’s coffee shop employer is in the Starbucks mode then most likely hers does too. I see where this is going.

Not that I’m biblically well-read myself, but my eye balked a little at seeing “Leviticus” given as a character’s name — wasn’t that a book of the bible rather than a person of some sort? Thanks Wikipedia, yes it was, and it referred to the Levites, a social group ultimately hailing from the loins of some guy called Levi. So, this feels like a bit of an odd choice on Ingle’s part, but it isn’t a gigantic problem (not for me, anyway). The bigger question is, how’s the story?

Narrative:

Was I enticed by the story so far? Maybe. NEatGG labours under a heavy burden: Good Omens, unquestionably Terry Pratchet’s finest stand-alone work and probably Neil Gaiman’s as well. Those are pretty big guns to come up against, what with one being recent fantasy’s most celebrated comedic author and the other a well of ridiculously referential, psychological and historical dark fantasy (that’s Gaiman, of course — sorry for the crap summary).

So, how does Ingle do in comparison? Well, obviously he comes off second best, as it’s utterly unfair to line the two up side by side — but he’s bringing it on himself just by attempting the book, so you can’t blame me for that. And the opening of the story feels a bit loaded down, to be honest. There’s a lot of very dense, very big paragraphs detailing the nature of the Heaven and Hell business models, then sinking us deep into Marcus’s life, and the upshot is that through page after page I don’t really feel like I’m getting much actual story at all.

And, crucially, not all that many laughs.

That said, it’s not all bad news here. It kicks off with a striking image of global destruction, as witnessed by our two leading men from their vantage point atop an orbiting satellite… until the happy illusion ends, dumping them back into their reality: a ceaseless end-of-days-ly grind, with Heaven and Hell both separately seeking to bring about the apocalypse while simultaneously delaying it to thwart the opposition.

Throw in the looming horrors of bureaucratic big businesses owning your soul into eternity, and the set-up is ripe for a heroic overthrow, even if it does mean all the little babies and puppies and butterflies are going to burn. And Marcus and Stephanie and Sir Regi too, so it’s hard to imagine that they won’t because key movers in what’s ahead. And after walking us through Marcus’s recent history that becomes the apparent plan, but it’s slow getting there.

The second chapter focuses on Leviticus, and while it truthfully isn’t just one enormous paragraph interrupted by no dialogue at all, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for just that if you weren’t paying close attention. It has the angel going a bit pacifism-Matrix-assault on some kind of complex, working his way to its protected heart to find… some kind of dwarfish Santa with a large and unsettling grin on its face waiting for him? Eh?

That’s what I get for skimming, I guess. Or rather, that’s what YOU get for making me, Ingle.

Observations:

NEatGG looks like the blinking remains of some roadside diner’s worn out neon sign…

New! Eat at GG‘s!

Not so much an observation on the book as on my abbreviation of its title, but, whatever.

Conclusion:

NEatGG might be okay, so while the sample didn’t provoke spontaneous laughter on my part I’d be willing to give the whole book a chance to do so. You know, if it appeared before me like an over-named dog and I didn’t have to spend $5 to make it happen.

Rating:

WISHLIST


= Technicalities =

Title: Necessary Evil and the Greater Good

Author: Adam Ingle

Publisher: The Dead Regime

Price: $5.53 (Sept 2015)

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