Our little book blog received a copy of this book as a request to read and provide a review. The plot sounded intriguing, though admittedly not up my alley, but I thought I would give it a whirl.
The story opens with our main character, John Hewson, dying in a car accident. His soul is sent to limbo, as it is not negatively charged (going to hell), or positively charged (going to heaven), and therefore is neutral, and needs to be assessed. John’s soul enters a vessol, a body which is designed to hold a soul, and is taken to an area for destination determination. It is decided that his soul belongs in hell, and he is taken on a tour of hell to illustrate its different layers. Hell does not work the way we have been taught. It has ten layers, much to the description of Dante’s Inferno, however, the highest level is not for the common man. This level is reserved for the worst of the worst, the most evil of souls, as they are closest to Satan’s true form, and here the soul is treated like royalty. Level one then is for the most common person, a level for those who are not overly bad, and here they suffer tremendous torture, a payment for living a mediocre existence, not being truly bad or truly good. The soul here is tortured so extensively that it becomes meaningless, and it sent back into our universe to be reincarnated.
John is given a choice. His soul can either enter hell where he will exist on the first or second levels facing unbearable torture, or find a soul that has escaped the soul catcher, and bring it back for judgement. In order to do this, John’s soul will have to possess a living body, and use that body to find a soul that can take on any form human or animal. It is an extremely difficult task, yet John makes the ultimate decision to try to find this lost soul or risk damnation. If he succeeds, he will have paid his debt to Satan, and his soul can be released to heaven. If he fails and the soul does not come through the soul catcher as it is supposed to, it could mean the end of the universe.
The missing soul is that of Sandy Logan. Sandy is a man who works for the Ministry of Homeland Security in London, England. He is also a member of J.A.W.S, Justice for Animals, Whatever Species. Sandy found out about different laboratories that were testing on animals, sets the animals free, and bombs the buildings. At his latest target, the Tavistock Institute, he find a slew of pigeons being tested on, and attempts to free them. In the process of gathering the birds, he finds out that they are being tested with a drug called Emorfed by none other than his own Prime Minister. Emorfed is designed to take away a person’s desires, be it alcohol, drugs, sex…you name it. The Prime Minister is planning on releasing the drug into the water supply of the city, turning everyone into very complacent individuals. The plan goes awry though when Sandy’s nitwit friend accidentally sets the bomb too soon, and ends up killing themselves and the pigeons.
John’s soul is released through the soul catcher back into the universe, and he ends up possessing a rock star named Nash Stevens, a man who is heavily into drugs, sex, and booze. He has to convince Nash to help him accomplish the impossible, at whatever the cost.
I found it to be a very interesting concept. It was fascinating how Moyle wrote the story in a way which married science and religion when it comes to the idea of heaven and hell. As an example, the demons in hell are made up of the dust that was created from the Big Bang. He even discusses wormholes and their role in delivering souls where they need to go. For me, it was especially thought provoking to read about where souls go, particularly for non-believers. I am a non-religious person, preferring the scientific mentality, so to read how my soul would go to hell and be tortured extensively purely for being a non-believer, no matter how much good I do in life, was rather disheartening.
I found the story hard to get into at first. It is a bit sci-fi, and religious, which are areas I have a hard time wrapping my head around. I was afraid that the government conspiracy areas would be the hardest to read, and ended up finding them to be the easiest. Perhaps that is due to the fact that British government is structured so similarly to that of Canada. For me, the religion parts were definitely the hardest to really grasp, not that they were written poorly, I just have a hard time really understanding religion and all that it entails. My only real gripe about the writing was the use of “whilst”. I found it used too often, but then again, the author is British and I am not overly familiar with their sentence structuring with regards to that. Perhaps they tend to use “whilst” more often, where we would use “while”. I found a few grammatical and word errors, be instead of we, things like that, but it didn’t take away from the story at all.
I did find the ending very confusing, and still cannot really grasp what happened.
***SPOILER ALERT*** I was really good with the story right up until John tries to bring Sandy’s soul back through limbo. Then I just got totally lost and had no idea what happened to Sandy or even John. Once I sunk my teeth into the story I really enjoyed it, so to not understand the ending was deeply unsatisfying for me. I am not sure if this is meant to have a sequel which might answer that question?
At any rate, overall I did enjoy the book. I liked the science and religion meeting on common grounds instead of it having to be a battle of one or the other. I liked the irony of what happens to Sandy’s soul, the entity in which it possessed. Actually that part of the story I found rather humorous. I am always up for a good conspiracy, and this one was nice and easy to follow (sometimes they can get convoluted and hard to follow). Overall it was a good read, one I would definitely recommend if only I could understand the ending!