Forbidden by Ted Decker and Tosca Lee

Forbidden by Ted Decker and Tosca Lee

forbidden

Terrible.

So why even bother to write a review for In Search of the End of the Sidewalk? I’ve read tons of other books that would rank higher than this one. And yet, although it was terrible, it was still okay. Facing a fourteen hour flight from Los Angeles to Shanghai (and then several more hours to Chengdu), I was looking for something mindless, but something that would pull me in enough to make hours fly by without my noticing them. Forbidden did the trick.

Decker (with Lee) created a book that is smack in the middle of the genre I like to call DanBrown. (No spaces. It stands alone as a single noun.) We all know DanBrown as a genre. There’s mystery and intrigue. There are religious overtones. There’s a love story. There’s less than spectacular writing, but enough of a plot that the reader ignores the craftsmanship for the story.  Forbidden has all of the elements to some degree or another.

Forbidden tells the tale of a future society in which the world is ruled by a single government, emotionless, other than fear. All feelings have been wiped out, leaving only fear as a way those in charge to control the masses. As the time comes for a new sovereign to be placed in power, a remnant of those old emotions that were thought to be extinct, again finds a way in to the population. While only a small handful of citizens are able to experience the wider range of feelings, those who are touched realize that love is not only a beautiful thing, but it can also bring pain greater than any they could imagine.

The basic plot is there, but as a whole, Decker didn’t develop the society to make it believable. As I read, I wanted to know more of what it was like to live in a society void of feelings. The reader barely gets a glimpse at the world before the first character reverts to a state of feeling. Rather than focus so heavily on the royals of this period, I would love to have more set-up of the average people living without feeling. I would prefer a book that went in the direction of a dystopian 1984-type world than the DanBrown genre I got.

Maybe I am asking too much. To be fair, I bought this book off the mass paperback stand at an airport kiosk. I didn’t buy it for its literary appeal, but rather its ability to waste away a couple of in-flight hours. Which it did. So, while Ted Decker’s (and Tosca Lee’s) Forbidden earns a measly one shell on my rating system, I do give it slight props for helping pass the time at 30,000 feet.

books shell

Sanctus by Simon Toyne

Sanctus by Simon Toyne

If “Dan Brown” were a genre, Sanctus would be the latest novel falling into its category.  It falls right in with the formulaic set-up of a religious, conspiracy theory-laced thriller, filled with murdering monks and just a tad (or at this point, a mere hint at) romance.  Sanctus may be following a script made popular with The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, but it has a supernatural twist that also makes it lean its binding towards the shelves of science-fiction. This departure from the realm of purely probable into possibly unearthly kept me churning through chapters as if I were a maiden making butter.

Sanctus opens with a monk from an ancient religious fortress, The Citadel, in the fictional Turkish city of Ruin, taking his own life in a fashion meant to make the world collectively turn its head and look. There is no doubt that he wants to get a message across to those living outside the cloistered life of the mountainous caves he has called home for the previous eight years, but the contents of that message are not easily decipherable.

The leaders of the secretive society are none-to-happy with his “sacrifice” and will do anything to keep the details of their order, and the ancient Sacrament which they protect, a secret. This means dispatching some of their brethren on missions to rid the world of anyone one who has any knowledge of or previous contact Brother Samuel. It also means getting his broken body back from the secular morgue which could possibly learn too much from the sacred scars and brands scattered across his remains. The cloistered sect will stop at nothing to keep their secrets their own.

On the other side of the game, we find a long-lost sister with a connection that is more than just that of a sibling, an entire group, the Mala, dedicated to breaching the walls of The Citadel and forcing the knowledge of the Sacrament into the open, as well as a low-level investigator who is getting more than he bargained for when the case of a suicidal monk landed on his desk.

Simon Toyne’s book touts itself as the first in a trilogy with the second in the series is set to make its debut on April 12, just a few short weeks away. After completing the first book in the span of just a few days, I will definitely pick this next one up and give it a go. These Dan Brown-ish books aren’t known for their great literary prowess or the depth of their characters, but the intrigued weaved throughout the first book has drawn me in and I am ready to fly through the pages of The Key to hopefully find out where the chain of events that started with the revelation of the Sacrament will end up.  Simon Toyne’s religious, slightly sci-fi, conspiracy theory thriller earns: