I love being a book reviewer. Ever since I started this whole blog project, my reading has expanded in scope and diversity, and I absolutely love that. Breaking the Devil's Heart is just one more book that I would probably never have read on my own, but I'm so glad that I did.
I guess this is technically book 2 in a series, but it stands well on it's own. The premise is that Stewart and his girlfriend, Layla, are trying to infiltrate Hell in order to stop the human suffering caused by it's residents. Stewart was once alive and human, but died tragically and became an Observer in order to embark on this Satin killing mission. The author's version of hell is a lot like Office Space, if it were horror instead of comedy. It includes neurotic businessmen, a telemarketing scheme, and a stock exchange system--all of which run on human souls as currency.
I loved the settings and the ideas. I loved Goodman's take on hell, on souls, and on evil. I liked that it wasn't as simple as "The devil makes you do bad things." It suggests that human beings have a natural capacity for evil, and that while they can be persuaded in any number of directions, they are ultimately responsible for their actions. At the same time, the demons benefit from any evil act and will buy and sell souls in the hopes of those souls doing evil. Because evil...gives them peace or something. That's the point where the logic of the world building kind of breaks down, but even with that major flaw, the world building is still awesome.
I liked Stewart and Layla. I sort of wished for more relationship building, or more character building, but then again there was nothing that made me dislike either of them or their relationship. I liked that they were smart and cunning, but firmly dedicated to achieving their ends. Stewart really believes in good, and his willingness to sacrifice all for it is what endeared him to me.
I like the sort of "twist" near the end. I can't say more, for obvious reasons.
There were definitely some leaps in logic, or a total lack of logic in some cases, that gave me pause. I like the world that Goodman has created, but it's a little hard to swallow the "how" and "why" of it all.
In the end there was a sense of uncertainty in terms of how much was actually accomplished and whether anything was really resolved. There is a lot of build up to a moment where you would expect huge changes in the world. Instead, things are fairly ambiguous. I don't care for that sort of ending, because it leaves me feeling extremely unsatisfied.
Yes, I recommend it, with a few notes of caution. If you are particular about world building and want things thoroughly explained--don't read this book. If you like nice, tidy, happy endings--don't read this book. Also, it's worth noting that this book paints religious fundamentalists in not the nicest light--it actually directly states that they cause problems in multiple passages. So if you are very deeply religious and inclined to take offense, it's best you steer clear of this one. Readers that I would recommend this to are: urban fantasy lovers, who are interested in an imaginative take on hell and human nature. 3 stars.
Buy from Amazon: Breaking The Devil's Heart: A Logic of Demons Novel