Book Review Request: The Nth Day

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The Nth Day

by Jonathan Huls

I was given a free copy of this e-book and asked to provide an honest review; so here goes.

This is a terrible book.

There is almost nothing good about it. The writing is bad on every level, from grammar to logic to elegance. I have taught many teenagers who have a better grasp of English than this book shows. The mechanics are poor, making it hard to read; the overly long sentences wind and twist clumsily before snapping from the strain, making the reading even harder; and several times, the wrong word is used – “seized” instead of “ceased,” for instance, or “communal” instead of “tribunal.” This book need more than an editor: this book needs a writer.

The plot doesn’t make much sense. The basic idea is that God is born into modern times, and His coming brings mayhem and destruction; not immediately, however, as the child first must grow up like a reasonably normal human being, though his youth is filled with strange events and miracles. Around the age of ten, his father – well, his stepfather, really, as the child was born of an immaculate conception – tries to discipline the boy, for the first time, over a temper tantrum during a board game; and the young God, in a moment of even more petulant wrath, destroys his parents with a sudden tornado. He then strikes out walking across the country, leaving more destruction and inexplicable occurrences in his wake, until he reaches his destination. Unfortunately, the book ends without any actual resolution: he reaches his destination, causes some more destruction, and then vanishes. That’s it. No explanation for the journey, no reason for the mayhem he caused, no actual point to the book.

The only thing Huls does with any style is disgust the reader: the lengthy, detailed descriptions of vomit and excrement and blood and rot are the most vivid moments in the book. There are a lot of them, and they made me more nauseated than any other reading experience I can think of. And although there isn’t a lot of it, this author also made sex more distasteful than any other author I can remember reading. The sweet moments – and there are actually a few, including a loving union between two of the characters, and a father-child relationship that was somewhat heart-warming – are surrounded by so much putrescence that there was just no way to enjoy them. The father-child relationship, for instance, begins with the child saving the father-figure from choking on his own vomit in a drunken stupor; said puddle of vomit figures prominently in the next dozen pages, before the two share a laugh over a raucous belch. Hard to see a Zuzu’s petals-moment there.

If I had to give a reason for the creation of this book, I would guess that the author hates humanity. The people are almost entirely horrible, representing every deadly sin with their every word and deed; the heroes, if that word can apply to the point-of-view characters, are better, but they are also generally victimized by events, and since there is no final resolution, there seems to be no reason for their suffering other than “Life is awful, and so are human beings.” By the end of the book I was rooting for an apocalypse, but even that opportunity was missed, as the young God apparently decides to let the world continue. Until the next time someone beats him at Connect Four, that is – and then watch out.

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