Sunday, September 27, 2009

Book Review: Unholy Domain by Dan Ronco

Sometimes curious concepts and interesting characters smash against the wall of a terrible plot point and lose their connection with the reader. This is much the case with Dan Ronco’s novel, a thriller that pits fundamentalist religion against technology in a near-future Earth. I actually enjoyed the first seventy or so pages of this novel. While the concepts being introduced would have benefited from stronger world building and more thorough examinations of the characters, the story at least kept moving forward and was interesting. But characterization is precisely what dies in this piece. The relationships feel hackneyed at best, particularly for the main character, who magically falls in love with a woman he’s only met once. That’s not to say that such things don’t happen, but the way it was approached in Unholy Domain made the characters seem flat. The “love” came out of nowhere and seemed exceptionally trite. There were other issues too, though less glaring ones than the sudden, depth-less romance (they’re both magically in love, having exchanged little more than five sentences between one another). Some of the religious elements were over-the-top, to the point of being ridiculous. I managed to move past these, but they were relatively relentless, and this made for a story that lacked depth, power, and cohesiveness. These are all my personal opinions, though. If the book sounds like something you might like, then buy it and give it a read. For me, though, it was the kind of book that literally made me roll my eyes while reading it. That’s too much for me.

3 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Some folks draw their ideas about religion only from the fanatics that they read about on the net and it doesn't do justice to the complexity of the religious mindset.

SQT said...

Charles, I started to read this and thought the same thing. I don't want to harp on the book (or the author) but I hate it when religion is portrayed as totally cliche. Too many books & tv shows paint with really broad brushes where religion is concerned and they miss a lot of subtleties that way.

S.M.D. said...

There's an interesting idea Ronco is working with here, but it desperately needs to be fleshed out so that it isn't just another Religion vs. Science allegory...