Sunday, November 22, 2009

Review: Mercury Falls

When Robert Kroese, who also works at Google, offered his comic novel Mercury Falls on the Kindle for $1.99, I bought it, to support another Googler, if nothing else.

The novel revolves around the apocalypse --- Christine, a reporter for the evangelical newspaper The Banner has seen so many cults proclaim the end of the world that she's now jaded, but after returning from yet another apparently fruitless such prediction, she discovers that her house has been broken into by a Demon, and the apocalypse ensues.

The style is evocative of Douglas Adams' classic, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, complete with several digressions into tangents, an omniscient narrator who explains what's going on behind the scenes to the reader, and self-referential jokes.

Unfortunately, I found the book merely mildly amusing, rather than being funny the way Adams' series was. There are moments of amusing word play every chapter or so, and every once in a while a funny moment deserves a chortle. But while Adams' works frequently make subtle references to the human condition, I found that Mercury Falls frequently made cheap shots --- like having a flaming pillar of fire from heaven coming down and striking down hapless characters.

The book finishes in self-referential fashion, by constructing a rationale for its existence, tying up everything in a nice little knot, but ultimately, I found myself unsatisfied in the quest for laughs. Nevertheless, humor is an unpredictable thing, so if you have a Kindle you might as well download the sample and see if it sucks you in. But I found Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys funnier and less obviously forced.
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