Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Unholy Grail

A while back I was approached by David L. Wilson, author of Unholy Grail, with a great offer for my book club: free copies of his book and attendance at our meeting. Cool, huh? Well ... maybe.

You see, Unholy Grail is a religious thriller much like The Da Vinci Code ... and I hated the Da Vinci Code (to read why click here - it might surprise you). In fact, if it were up to me I would have turned down Mr. Wilson's offer. [David, I know you're reading this - sorry!] But being the fabulous and uber-fair book club madam that I am, I let my club vote on it; every single person voted in favor of reading this book. Darn it.

Come to find out, Mr. Wilson has a rather fascinating background and he's quite easy to talk to. He delivered 17 copies of his book to my office one afternoon and I really enjoyed our brief conversation. Regardless of my opinion of his book I am quite looking forward to our upcoming meeting.

What is this book all about, you ask? There are Jesuits, a beautiful professor with an unsettling past, murdered priests, a hit man, lots of secret documents and organizations, and much more. I'd hate to say more for fear that I'd give something important away. Suffice it to say that if the topic sounds interesting to you, you'd probably like this book.

Of course, I'm sure you are all waiting with bated breath to read my opinion of Unholy Grail. Honestly? I thought I would hate this book, but it really wasn't that bad.

Let me start by saying that I really don't like religious thrillers. I don't know if it's my Christian background, or that I'm not really a conspiracy buff, or what exactly ... but I don't get why these types of books are supposed to be appealing. Of course, I'm not a big fan of thrillers or mysteries in general so I'm sure that has something to do with it. If you ARE into religious thrillers, please post a comment and tell me why - I'd really like to know what the appeal is.

I had to force myself to start reading this book - because, like I said, I thought I would hate it - but once I picked it up, I got interested very quickly. There's not a whole lot of setup prior to the first big event so I was drawn into the story within the first few chapters. That's another thing ... I've noticed that thriller/mystery authors often have chapters that are only 1-2 pages in length - why do you think that is ?

The language isn't extraordinary, but it's not cumbersome either. The characters are interesting and most have some secret in their past. The professor has been through some very difficult times which lead her to question her religious beliefs. Although she irritated me through much of the novel, I understood her motivation completely; what you learn about her/her life toward the end only made her a more believable character to me. I had a few problems with the main Jesuit priest, but overall he was a likable character. Most of the supporting characters are a bit "flat" but they aren't vital to the storyline so that's ok with me. I did think that the bit of romance thrown in at the very end seemed forced - the book was fine without it.

As far as the main secret/conspiracy goes, it really a rather intriguing premise. I disagree with it completely but it was a good theory all the same - well thought-out, fully developed, and interesting. I can totally believe that people might have religious beliefs that go along with those presented in the book. I'm not sure they'd ACT on them in this way, but they could very well BELIEVE something like this.

I know that this review is pretty negative but really, this is much better than I expected. I'm finding it hard to do an unbiased review of a book that I was so dead set against reading, from a genre that I dislike. In all fairness to Mr. Wilson and Unholy Grail, it is not a bad book and I think that people who like this genre will enjoy reading it ... it's just not the kind of book for me. So I hope you will take my review "with a grain of salt" and realize that I'm quite biased.

I've heard from several of the gals in my book club so far and the reactions have been very mixed - they either love it or hate it, but nothing in between. Fortunately that makes for great discussion at our meetings so I'm looking forward to July 20! Afterward I'll post a link to our blog so you can read the rest of the club's reactions. [Update: Here's that link!]

And if by chance you have any questions for Mr. Wilson, I'd be happy to ask them for you! Just post in the comments and I'll take care of it.

As always, if you've read this book please post a comment with your link so I can add it here.


Sarah G said...

Hmm, doesn't sound like something I'd like. But, I guess that's why there are all types of books out there, to please all types of readers! In all of my book-blog reading I've found a lot of opportunities to get free books to review, but for the most part I've passed these up. Don't get me wrong, I love free books, but life is short, and so I tend to read things that I've thoroughly researched and really want to read!

justareadingfool said...

Actually your reasons for hating The Da Vinci Code don't seem odd to me at all. I've heard similar things from others. I tried watching the movie, but couldn't stomach it not because I'm Catholic, but because I thought it was...sorry, it's late, I can't think up the high-falutin words...stupid. I have no interest in the book. Unfortunately, I doubt I'd have much interest in this one either as I just completed The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola (the founder of the Jesuits). :)

Heather J. said...

Sarah G - I know what you mean about free books. I've turned down quite a few, but this was really up to my book club and not my decision. By the way, I'm so enjoying the pics on your blog!

readingfool - as I think I mentioned in my Da Vinci Code review, I was raised Catholic and many in my club are Catholic. What blew my mind is that the Protestant people in my club were so willing to believe everything Brown said about the Catholic Church. It's like the Protestant world (of which I'm now a part) seems to be waiting to pounce on the Catholic world. The whole meeting was a bit strange for sure ... I felt like it was my mission to "educate the masses" about not believing everything they read!

Lisa said...

Well, if you don't like mysteries and thrillers, I can't imagine why you would be thrilled with a religious thriller - or any sort, for that matter. That's why there are so many books out there, I suppose.

I have noticed that a lot of mysteries use short chapters and I think it goes along with feed you the information in bits and trying to build suspense. Sometimes it's effective, sometimes it's a waste.

Mr. Wilson might be better off seeking out mystery book clubs. I belonged to one for a long time and we had several author visits (although no free books). He might find a better audience there.

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