Review: Mercury Rises by Robert Kroese

After reading Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman when I was 15, I gave up on what I thought of as 'angelic fiction'. I enjoyed the comedic and sarcastic characters, and no other stories that had that brand of biblical mythology in them were as funny, as unique and entertaining to my young mind. Also, none of them had any clever footnotes. So on I moved to other genres unless the bug bit, and then I would re-read Good Omens.

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Part of the privilege of book reviewing is the adventure. I would never have picked up Mercury Rises, on principle of my aforementioned past experiences, and so the obligation to review was the only reason I flipped it open. Even then, it was with trepidation and very little hope that I might end up with anything at all nice to say.
How wrong I was.

Mercury Rises is, above all things, a humorous book. It made me laugh, snicker, giggle, and snort (an embarrassing but satisfying thing to happen in the middle of a crowded room). The plot, which is actually several different plots that converge, mostly clips along at a steady pace, and the pitch-perfect writing carries the book for the brief time the plot seems to lag.

What I found especially interesting was the part of the story involving the politics of heaven, especially the dynamic between the "higher-ups" and the rest of the angels.

The events of Mercury Rises immediately follow the grand end of the previous book, Mercury Falls, where a certain massive structure is sucked through an interdimensional wormhole of sorts. Although the main events of book one are explained so that you can read Mercury Rises as a stand-alone, many of the in-jokes and references are easier to understand and far more funny if you've read the first book.

The original main characters are carried into this book, along with the addition of Jacob, an Autistic explosives expert. Horace Finch is also running around as the book's rich antagonist, and since his attitude drove me nuts through all of his parts, I'd say bravo to Mr. Kroese on a successful villain.

Each of the characters seem determined to have their own moment in the spotlight. Mercury is the highlight for me, as he seems to have the strongest character voice. He's supremely clever and has a persistent snarky streak that only endears him to me all the more. Jacob is interesting.

As someone with a family member who has been diagnosed with Aspergers, I'm immediately on the defensive whenever an Autistic character is introduced. Why? Because most of the time, authors use that diagnosis as a shortcut to explain why a character is "off," no more than a paper-thin plot device.

Not so here.

Our time spent with Jacob is entertaining, and he isn't used as some kind of soap-box device or puddle-deep sidekick. His quirks are used to literary advantage and I fully enjoyed reading his part in the tale. Christine... Well, she was not my favorite charcter in the beginning, especially when contrasted with Mercury and Jacob, but there is a strong argument for her in that she is definitely needed for the story to be well-rounded and the plot complete.

Truly, my only complaint about the book is that Mercury really isn't in it all that much for about the first half. While part of his past is revealed, it would have been nice to keep him actively in the plot somehow instead of introducing him and then not mentioning him until he pops up again 100 pages later with no real explanation of how he got from B.C.E. to C.E..

Overall, the latest tale of Mercury is highly entertaining, with excitement, humor, science, floods, and most importantly -- clever footnotes. I highly recommend it, even if you've been turned off to the genre by all the angsty tween angel stories out there. Take a chance and read a good book in the genre for once, and you might find a bit of happiness in your day after all.

Mercury Rises by Robert Kroese
Paperback: 326 pages
Publisher: AmazonEncore (October 18, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1612180868
ISBN-13: 978-1612180861

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