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2018 Reading Challenge

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

Book Review: Sea of Doubt by Jeremy Holden

Today I’m pleased to introduce the first in a strange but good (mostly) series by author Jeremy Holden – Sea of Doubt. The book features Mal Thomas, an advertising “Mad Man” type who somehow repeatedly finds himself sucked in to the most amazingly audacious communications challenges – which wind up changing his life, perceptions of reality, and the world (and no, that’s not hyperbole). I reference the second book in the series – Valley of Time – in here. My review of that is coming next week/so, so keep your eye out for it. Enjoy!

Sea of Doubt: The Greatest Story Ever Sold
This is a tough one to review – I really liked it throughout, then right at the end, I got really frustrated and rolled my eyes and groaned rather a lot… It’s the tale of a jaded, cynical ad-man – or at least, he should be, given his meteoric rise in the industry and his veteran status. Yet somehow, he remains a bit of wide-eyed innocent when he’s approached with a request to tackle the most unbelievable claims and somehow convince the world that they are true: that the Messiah has returned, in the form of a mute Argentinian street kid. I’m not normally one for religious fiction, but this isn’t really that – despite the obvious elements and an undercurrent (in the form of Rahim) of spirit-guide-ness that I did not expect (or entirely believe in/willingly suspend my disbelief for)… Mostly it’s a tale about humanity – what we believe, what we want to believe, and why. For that, and for the delightful hodge-podge of characters, I quite liked it. It was an original, entertaining, well-written, well-devised story.

Right up until the ending.

Then it felt contrived – like when Bobby walked out of the shower and Pam said it was all a dream… (Yeah, I went with Dallas as my comparison – that dates me, but I don’t care because it is the perfect analogy.) It felt random, like an alternate idea that got picked up off the cutting room floor. Normally, that would be enough to send me off on a wild rant – it really bothers me when a great story delivers what I consider a disappointing ending. But I still really liked the ideas here, and since I knew there was a sequel, I was willing to suspend my irritation and see where things went (I already had the second book from NetGalley). I’m only a small number of pages into that sequel, and so far I’m thinking that perhaps my frustration is misplaced – the second book is holding remarkably consistent so far, and I’m thinking that the author did not in fact abandon where I thought he was going so much as it turned out that he and I were viewing the journey differently… I still don’t entirely love the way this one ended, but am waiting to see if it all ties together in a bigger-picture way throughout the course of the two books before I decide if it was a failing of the story – or of my interpretation of what the story was.

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