Page Turners

Mercury Falls Desperetely Wants to Be Christopher Moore


Satire has always been one of my favorite genres of novel. When done correctly it can be he most enjoyable type of story out there, taking a premise or a genre and simultaneously telling a story in that genre while also lovingly poking fun at it. Honestly I feel like telling a satiric story can be harder than doing a traditional story, because you have to both tell a believable story and make it humorous. And luckily there doesn’t seem to be any chance that I’ll run out of fun satire stories, because people sure love writing them. So I’m always on the lookout for some fun new satire books to check out, and a while back I began noticing a series of books popping up on Amazon, being recommended to me. The Mercury series created five novels and a novella, all of which follow the exploits of a sarcastic angel named Mercury, and his adventures on Earth. And while Christianity has never been a particularly engaging topic for me, the idea or a satire about the Apocalypse seemed to have enough potential to save that. And, well, I’ll get to that later.

The novel follows two central protagonists, the previously mentioned Mercury, and angel who is living on Earth and keeping tabs on the impending Apocalypse, and Christine Temetri, a journalist who typically covers Doomsday cults for a religious newspaper. But after yet another disappointing cult failing to predict the end of the world, Christine decides to do something different and goes to interview an Israeli general who is knee-deep in a new war. However, after meeting with the general there’s an attack, and he’s killed, but not before giving Christine a mysterious metal case that he says belongs to a man named Mercury. Christine had heard of Mercury, who seemed to be a burnt out hippie running a cult in Berkeley, so Christine heads over to meet Mercury. And immediately Mercury reveals that he’s not a cult-leader, he’s an angel whose job is to observe the Apocalypse and prod it along. Christine is then thrown headfirst into the complicated and bureaucratic world of angels and demons. Apparently Heaven is an incomprehensibly layered organization of committees, laws, and treaties, and it’s about time for the agreed upon Apocalypse to begin.

Christine is obviously not thrilled with the knowledge that her entire reality is about to end, and begins working with Mercury to perhaps stop this destruction of the world. And along the way we meet the apathetic Antichrist Karl who won a contest and several other angels who are constantly stabbing each other in the backs, trying to gain the upper hand. They eventually find out that Lucifer is attempting to ruin the terms of the Apocalypse contract by assassinating the Antichrist so that things can’t progress the way they’re supposed to and Lucifer can destroy the Earth as revenge. So Christine and Mercury run around Earth, Heaven, Hell, and everywhere in between, running into the editor of Christine’s newspaper/prophet, the author of a series of novels that are clear parodies of Harry Potter, and a whole gaggle of incompetent angels, trying to find some way to keep the world safe from the Apocalypse. And after a lot of work, several double-crosses, and a couple coincidences, they manage to avert Lucifer’s plan and convince the powers that be to hold off on the Apocalypse for a while.

So, I did not care for this novel. Which kind of puts me in an odd place. I really like to keep positive on this site, and haven’t really ever written up a novel that I didn’t enjoy. I don’t really like to rag on other people’s creative expression. But yikes was this book weak. The central premise of a renegade angel helping a skeptic save the world from a bureaucratic Apocalypse is pretty solid, and really should have led to a more engaging novel  than we got. But things were really bogged down by the fact that this book was written with a ridiculous sense of comedy that fell flat time and time again. One of the better writers of breezy satire working right now is Christopher Moore, who has written some truly great books, including a couple that tackle the ideas of Christianity. And it’s pretty obvious that Robert Kroese was desperate to be Christopher Moore. The only problem is that Christopher Moore has a flair for comedic writing. And Robert Kroese…does not. The jokes were strained, hacky, and ridiculously repetitive. But beyond the fact that this was a lethally unfunny book was the fact that it wasn’t very well-structured. Robert Kroese clearly had a whole lot of ideas, but no real idea on how to get them across. Parts of this novel dragged interminably, with characters just spinning their wheels, and at other times they would breeze right through what little character development there was. Characters would give multiple page-long monologues of exposition, just dumping information at the reader until you glaze over. It’s pretty disappointing, because there are some good ideas in this novel, but it becomes painfully clear that Kroese was told one too many times that he was the funniest guy in his Bible-study group and let that notion distract from actually creating a book that’s enjoyable to read. Clearly people enjoy his work and he seems successful, but it’s just not my cup of tea.

Mercury Falls was written by Robert Kroese, 2009.

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