Nuclear weapons, a president who belongs to a doomsday church, a Guatemalan descendant of the Maya trying to usher in the prophesied Fifth World, and a deadly virus that threatens to obliterate the … Only Simon Gray can help stop the ultimate destruction of the world as we know it.
This book had a lot of potential. A LOT. It’s filled with strong characters, a fascinating plot, and a crazy-awesome doomsday scenario that includes nuclear weapons, Mayan prophecy, and a LOT of betrayal. The story is imaginative, drawing from the idea that the world will end on December 21, 2012.
Where the story falls for me, though, is in the sheer number of characters and subplots that muddle an otherwise strong plot. The subplots are incredibly interesting when taken by themselves, but when everything is combined, the story becomes bogged down in detail and is hard to follow.
Simon is the protagonist, the one tasked with taking out his ex-friend and old college roommate Yum Cimil and preventing a nuclear attack. Obviously, Yum is the bad guy, who’s seeking the end of the Fourth World to usher in the utopic Fifth World. He follows Mayan ritual (including human sacrifice) and adheres to a unique worldview. He and Simon play an interesting and sometimes brilliant game of cat-and-mouse with each other that is one of the best parts of the book, in my opinion. Their hate for each other is tangible, and I wanted more interaction between them. They had a great James Bond/Goldfinger vibe to them which was pretty awesome, actually. I always looked forward to parts when they’re interacting.
One of my other favorite characters is Andrea. She’s a cold-blooded soldier-turned-hired gun who starts out working for Cimil. But she’s not without a conscience. Once she sees how far gone her boss is, she finds Simon to enlist his help (and the CIA’s) to stop Cimil’s crazy.
That’s one of the strong suits to this book. The main characters–Simon, Andrea, Cimil, the President–they’re not one dimensional at alllll. There are so many shades of gray in them, which helps to make them more relatable. You can’t help but root for Simon, cuz, hey, he’s the good guy. He’s not a perfect good guy; in fact, he doesn’t want to be involved with this at all. But like Bruce Willis in nearly every action movie he’s ever made, Simon sucks up the responsibility and tries to stop the imminent destruction of the world.
If you’re one of those people where a large number of characters doesn’t bother you, then get this book. It’s twisty like a crazy straw with a great premise and strong pacing. But if you’re like me, and your attention span can’t follow an ensemble cast, then this one may not be for you.