Thursday, April 30, 2020

Dreams may be overrated, but 'Enemy of the Gods' is not

Title: Enemy of the Gods
Author: C. Hofsetz
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 376 

What Goodreads has to say:

Unbeknownst to most humans, there is a place where our consciousness drifts when we sleep. An ancient alien race of self-proclaimed “gods” calls this realm Pangea. For millennia, they needed no intervention from us. Until now.

Oblivious to the world of dreams, neuroengineer Zeon is busy being in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. But when Pangea’s deceitful “gods” contact Zeon, he has no choice but to dive headfirst into their war—a war complicated by a band of human rebels led by the last person he’d ever expect.

If the war is lost, it’ll be the downfall of Pangea—and without a world to dream in, the entire human race will die with it.

What I have to say:

Um, a sequel to the absolutely riveting, mind-bending, all-around amazing debut novel Challenges of the Gods? Does this sound like something that will automatically get a five-star rating from me? The answer is yes.

OK, let me qualify that: no book "automatically" gets a five-star rating on here. But when I heard the long-awaited sequel to Challenges of the Gods was ready to hit bookshelves (or my Kindle, I guess), I was pretty sure I'd love it, just as I'd loved the first one.

And I was not wrong.

Everything I loved about Challenges of the Gods is back: an interplanetary struggle, apocalyptic battles in a manufactured dream-sphere, last-second surprises, and of course, a wry, sarcastic narrator who's both powerful and vulnerable.

From the first chapter, I was glad to be back in the competent hands of master storyteller C. Hofsetz. He knows what he's doing, people. Well, OK, I'm not sure any of us writers exactly know what we're doing, but those of us who are successful do a really good job making it look like we know what we're doing, and Hofsetz is amazing at this. 

The story starts in an intriguing place: our hero is stuck in a sophisticated if isolated prison and several missiles are heading straight for him. Yet in this high-stakes moment, the storytelling is so great that while I'm dying to know the outcome, I'm also laughing at Zeon's witty asides, self-deprecating humor, and really smart robo-cat named Harry. (Ask me later.)

That blend of humor and high-stakes intensity sets the tone perfectly for this story. I've heard it said that The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy sometimes errs on the side of humor at the expense of story. And while whether or not I agree with that is also a topic for another time, let's just say Enemy of the Gods walks a fine line between humor and plot--and the thing is, it never loses its balance.

(Look, you knew it was only a matter of time before I mentioned Hitchhiker's Guide, right? I mean, am I wearing my Zaphod Beeblebrox for President shirt as I type this? You decide....)

On top of that, our author has done in this book what some might consider self-sabotage: telling a story that contains multiple parallel worlds. This means some characters have not one, but two or more dopplegangers from different worlds--and they are all stuck in the same dream-sphere, battling each other. 

But hands together for Hofsetz, who presents this in a way that is not only not confusing, but very entertaining and surprisingly easy to follow. I absolutely loved a certain scene where two parallel characters (John and Jonathan) are absolutely thrilled to meet each other and immediately become best friends for life, while Zeon is left shaking his head. 

Speaking of characters, they are also great. Clearly, I'm biased in favor of Zeon, main character and narrator, as I absolutely love his narratorial voice, but there are strong characters all around. Jane, Zeon's love interest, is awesome, and Primavera--a little girl with crazy supernatural abilities--is fantastic. 

Words cannot express how fun, funny, and awesome this book is, but I might as well end this here because I don't know how much longer I can just gush about this story before my readers start to roll their eyes and tell me to move on.


Until tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment