Thursday, June 16, 2011

THE SERAPH SEAL by Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner

The Seraph Seal is a 2011 science fiction novel by Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner. In 2048, a history professor finds clues about the impending end of the world, and must race against the evil president of USAmerica (seriously) to keep him from usurping control of the new and coming world.

The Seraph Seal is an obvious mash-up of religious- and apocalyptic-themed stories and pseudosciences, including The Omen, The Omega Code, The Da Vinci Code, numerology, and Mayan doomsday theory. The theology in this book, particularly the eschatology, is also a nonsensical hodge-podge, although the Christian bits float on the top.

The writing in The Seraph Seal is indefensibly amateurish. The story has some solid geopolitical foundation (the authors have clearly done quite a bit of research), but the storytelling is just awful. The preposterous plot turns on a string of convenient coincidences, and the story jumps continually from one-page scene to one-page scene. Beyond the fact that there about three times as many storylines as the authors can handle (a second American civil war gets about three pages and doesn’t matter anyway), there is no opportunity for any real degree of character development, nor any chance for the reader to invest or engage in what’s going on.

The authors employ a large cast of boring, flat, characters, all of whom are brilliant, good-looking, gifted, and so on – and none of whom receive any character development whatsoever beyond the main protagonist, and him only slightly. And there are other problems. The story’s made-up “lost” scriptures are laughable. The ending, should the reader be diligent enough to make it that far, may make the reader wonder whether there was any point to the book at all. I could go on.

The authors call The Seraph Seal “engaged fiction” – they go out of their way to point out, at least to their minds, how realistic it is. The novel is prefaced by a non-fiction essay, and the last twenty percent of the book is speculation on the future of science, politics, and morality – this is a muddle of current events and “reports” from the fictional world of 2048. Given the shoddy quality of the purely fictional portion of the book, this material isn’t compelling, although it’s more interesting than the novel itself.

The Seraph Seal is a chore to get through, even skimming. In terms of storytelling, it fails abjectly. It’s astounding that Thomas Nelson would publish a book in this state.


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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”