Review: Mercury Falls by Robert Kroese

Mercury Falls by Robert Kroese
Publication: St. Culain Press (July 13, 2009), Paperback, 337pp / ISBN 0578032147
Genre: Fiction
Rating:
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Challenges: 2009 Pub Challenge (#7) / Countdown 2010 (2009 #9)
Read: November 2009
Source: Author

You should know two things before continuing on: 1) I was feeling sort of low this weekend because of a paper deadline coming up that I wasn’t ready for (and because of three other papers coming up that I’m not ready for), and 2) I was worried that Mercury Falls would turn out to be another Only Human i.e. somewhat boring and not as good as Good Omens, the penultimate book about humans, demons and angels in a comedic setting.

So imagine how happy I was when 1) Mercury Falls cheered me up enough to let me basically finish that paper and 2) it’s enough like Good Omens to be enjoyable but it’s dislike Good Omens enough to not be a total ripoff.

Summary from Amazon:

Years of covering the antics of End Times cults for The Banner, a religious news magazine, have left Christine Temetri not only jaded but seriously questioning her career choice. That is, until she meets Mercury, an anti-establishment angel who’s frittering his time away whipping up batches of Rice Krispy Treats and perfecting his ping-pong backhand instead of doing his job: helping to orchestrate Armageddon. With the end near and angels and demons debating the finer political points of the Apocalypse, Christine and Mercury accidentally foil an attempt to assassinate one Karl Grissom, a thirty-seven-year-old film school dropout about to make his big break as the Antichrist. Now, to save the world, she must negotiate the byzantine bureaucracies of Heaven and Hell and convince the apathetic Mercury to take a stand, all the while putting up with the obnoxious mouth-breathing Antichrist.

There are, of course, a lot of similar things in Mercury Falls and Good Omens. It’s kind of to be expected, what with the similar plotline and all, and besides the different superficial stuff– location, specific types of characters, jokes– it is pretty similar. It’s funny, it’s got interesting if somewhat non-original things to say about humans and angels (and demons), and it’s got footnotes. But! I think that while Good Omens maybe focuses more on the people involved with the apocalypse, Mercury Falls is more concerned with the whole situation that leads up to there being an apocalypse in the first place, and what that means for us humans.

The characters are nice, of course. I liked Christine, especially how she kept telling off angels and demons and whatnot. I didn’t like Karl, the Antichrist (but that wasn’t all to surprising). Mercury was an interesting sort of angel– kind of like what Aziraphale and Crowley would be if they were smushed together and then put into a statue of a Greek god– but he seemed more one-dimensional than anything else. Or maybe he was just meant to be an enigma? (Not like one of those sexy enigmas with an Italian care and fabulous hair. Just like a regular sort who makes goofy jokes and who has, er, silver hair.) But they all seem to take a bit of a backseat to the philosophical bits lurking beneath the surface of the text.

The plot is pretty much what you’d expect: human gets dragged into conflict between heaven and hell, human slaps them around a bit, heaven and hell rethink some things, apocalypse gets diverted because of encroaching paperwork. You know, the standard “omg the apocalypse let’s talk things over and/or blow each other up and then maybe we can keep it from happening” sort of thing. The fun stuff!

One thing I did notice was that there never seemed to be any rising action, er, thing. It seemed to stay like this for the most part: —

Instead of like this, I mean: n

I didn’t notice until the middle but there aren’t a terrible lot of action bits in Mercury Falls. It seemed to stay more toward the philosophical discussion side of things, with occasional running away and teleporting elsewhere. Is that bad? Maybe, maybe not. I wasn’t ever bored, if that answers your question. I suppose I was too busy laughing and waiting to see how the apocalypse would get diverted, exactly.

Okay, wait. I think I’ve done that thing where I’ve made something sound worse than it is, and Mercury Falls is not bad. It’s great! It’s really well-written and way more relevant for today than Only Human, and I loved picking out the different pop culture references. Though the characters weren’t always effective, I still liked following them around and seeing how they’d fix the mess they’re in. It’s really interesting to have a dull, actually really disgusting Antichrist who reminds me of one of those dude who lives with a doll-woman instead of a real person. I like it when angels go against the angel grain, like Mercury does, and it makes me laugh when supernatural beings act exactly like people stuck in cubicles must do (Office Space, set in heaven!). Mercury Falls made me smile all day, and I truly enjoyed reading it.

Is it anything new? Not really. Was it really enjoyable? Did it cheer me up a lot? Will I probably reread it alongside other books that make me feel good? Yep! And so I definitely recommend this if you need something to lift your spirits. Or maybe even if you’re wishing there was more Good Omens-type things available!

Oh, small note: Mercury Falls is self-published, but the only formatting issues I noticed were a few missing quotation marks, which seemed to have moved themselves into the wrong place in some dialogue formatting. It’s rather surprisingly well made for a self-published book (and cheap, too)! So don’t be afraid to give it a shot. 😀

Other reviews: Book Junkie | Reading for Sanity | Musings

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