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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 25 books toward her goal of 175 books.

Books Review: The Newirth Mythology (The Invasion of Heaven and Leaves of Fire) by Michael Koep

“‘The truth is always the best answer.’
He looked at me. His eyes were aged and tired, ‘Is it? The truth is always *an* answer, but not always hopeful.'”

The Invasion of Heaven
WOW – just, wow. This book was something unbelievable… I found it because I was approved for an ARC of its sequel (Leaves of Fire) on NetGalley – the premise was so intriguing and unusual that I was immediately drawn to see where the book would go. This one did not disappoint. It’s populated by madness, secrets, a HUGE freaky-factor, and wild characters on even wilder adventures. The protagonist, Loche Newirth, is a psychologist. His world is full of a certain brand of insanity by definition. But the world he finds himself in takes that insanity so far beyond the bounds of imagination that it almost defies explanation.

This is a through-the-looking-glass, down-the-rabbit-hole book – in a truly Carollian sense. There are bizarre characters, incredible (as in defying credibility) “truths”, Orwellian conspiracies… And it’s all presented in a marvelous voice that really keeps the reader on tenterhooks. I didn’t see the big reveal coming, which is always a delight – although once it was revealed, there was a bit of an “oh, I get it!” moment in retrospect. But that did nothing to limit or affect the surprise and glee with which I received it. It just made me insatiably curious to see what would come next…

Then I moved on to the second book – Leaves of Fire. Well, let’s just say, it didn’t deliver – I have reviewed that on here also, if you’re curious. Suffice to say, all of the things that went right in this first book went rather wonky for me in the second – so much so, that I actually couldn’t read it. Which was a rather massive disappointment, because Loche’s world in The Invasion of Heaven was full of scary magic that begged to be discovered. This is marked as a trilogy, so hopefully the third book will come out some time soon and my curiosity will send me back – both to revisit this incredible story and to force my way through that of Leaves.

Leaves of Fire
I was very excited when I saw this title – it sounded so intriguing, and when I looked up the first in the series it looked amazing… I got the first (The Invasion of Heaven) from Amazon (it was a Kindle Lending Library book!) and tore through it. It was incredible – complex, full of twists and turns and loop-the-loops. Half the time, I had no idea which end was up – in the best possible way. I couldn’t tell if the characters were delusional or the world was. And when the big reveal came, it all got even weirder and even better. It ended with a vengeance, and I couldn’t WAIT to start this second installment.

Then I started this second installment. Sigh…

I know that second books in trilogies often suffer as individual reads (particularly when you read them for the first time). I’ve seen them compared to middle children, a comparison which makes me laugh because it’s often so true – there’s none of the magic of seeing everything for the first time, none of the closure of knowing this is the last time you’ll be a part of this particular world… I try to give second books an extra bit of benefit-of-the-doubt as a result, since I know they often (unfairly) bear the brunt of keeping things moving and tying everything together. I tried that strategy with this one. And tried again. And again…

But no matter what I tried telling myself, I could NOT get into this one.

There are SO MANY characters and story lines, and they are so wildly divergent and rambling, that even though I knew that they must come together and that they’d likely do so in a crazy-cool-random way, I couldn’t stay in the story(ies). It seemed so far afield from the constant action and bizarreness of the first book. In that one, there was never a point that I wasn’t questioning what was going on or where the story would go next – I literally couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, the questions were so thick on the ground and the uncertainties so compelling… But this book just dragged at me. I couldn’t find myself caring enough to keep turning pages, let alone turn them with eager anticipation. I looked up other people’s comments to see if I was alone in this feeling, and see if I just needed to slog through the beginning to get there. Unfortunately, it seems that my experience is all too common among readers. It’s a tragic shame, because the concept is so cleverly played out in The Invasion of Heaven…

It’s been three years since the release of that book; I may have to wait three more until the conclusion is available and try again, because I’d really like to know how this whole thing wraps up. But I just couldn’t slog through it now, painfully and slowly, knowing I’d have to do it again when the next installment is available (because there’s no way one could wait years between these books and keep all of the relevant weirdness clear enough to follow it to its conclusion)…

My review copy of Leaves of Fire was provided by NetGalley.

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