Title: Smoke City
Author: Keith Rosson
Genre: Fiction, Religious
Rating: no rating given
DNF @ 65%
If I'm going to give up on a book I like to do it at around the 30%-40% mark. As that feels like a point at which I've given the book a fair shot, but also it's still worthwhile to give up and not complete the book for reading challenge. Smoke City really challenged my usual 'rules' for DNF's.
Oddly, I didn't DNF because this is a bad book, but because it just lost appeal for me. I didn't care what happened to any of our characters nor was I intrigued enough by the plot to continue. It just didn't make sense to carry forward.
Plot & Characters
From the blurb for Keith Rosson's book you will know right away there is reincarnation, Joan of Arc and an (mostly) all male cast in Smoke City. Yet it's really a contemporary story with oral journal-esque entries from the executioner of Joan of Arc. If you're thinking what I did; which is no one person really killed Joan, then I suppose you will also be surprised to know (as I was) that only one person lit the fire at her feet on the day of her death. These journal-esque entries are very interesting, a bit gruesome, but well worth the read. Easily my favourite parts of the book.
Instead the contemporary men just didn't do it for me. All of three of them are interesting enough as individuals; I just didn't connect with any of them. Neither did I have any sympathy for them. This may be because I had a hard time relating to these men. Each of them (there are 3 eventually) end up in the car (by fate) on a trip to Los Angeles. So they have little in common with one another. Thus it was hard to figure out why they were even putting up with one another; never mind why I was putting up with listening to each of them whine about their life.
Between one guy that ruined his own life, the young idealist (and naive) teen, and the god obsessed man I just didn't have much in common with them and honestly felt like they were all very self-centered and inconsiderate of those around them.
I read a book a number of years ago that I hadn't thought about in a very long time; but certainly Smoke City reminded me of it on several occasions. It's called The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. While a totally different story it has many similarities including: leading male character(s), obsession with religion, and grotesque or gory moments that are very descriptive. I think if you liked The Gargoyle you are likely to enjoy Rosson's story.
Normally I would give one-star to a book that I do not finish but as I don't think this book is poorly written or has massive flaws I am choosing not to rate it at all. Instead I think it just isn't for me. There are lots of reasons for this (as noted above). While I do not attend Christian church anymore I was raised in the Christian faith and have a fascination with religion and people's experiences with it. So I don't think it was the use of religion here that put me off, as it was that I just didn't connect with the overall story. I would try another book by Rosson in the future as the writing and plot was not the core of my issues. It was more about the character choices Rosson made. I'm confident they make sense for the end of the book but I just couldn't convince myself to keep picking it up to read.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.