Sunday, June 8, 2014

Book Review: Vatican Assassin by Mike Luoma

Vatican Assassin by Mike Luoma


Bernard “BC” Campion works for Pope Peter II, head of the New catholic Church. But BC isn’t much of a priest despite his title and affiliation. In fact, it’s only really due to being in the wrong place at the right time that he’s considered a priest at all. But the NcC actually has a use for BC. There are people that the church needs out of the way. War between the United Islam Nation and the Universal Trade Zone are heating up, and the NcC is ready for the stalemate to be over. So they’re bringing in BC to bear in the neutral-zoned Lunar Prime. But BC is no negotiator. He’s a member of the supposedly secret Office of Papal Operations, an assassin employed by the Vatican.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

Bernard Campion's friends call him "BC". Not that he has a lot of friends. You don't make a lot of friends when you're an assassin. His mission: eliminate the governor of Luna Prime, Meredith McEntyre. His bosses, The Office of Papal Operations: The OPO, tell him she's been sympathizing with the enemy, the Universal Islamic Nation (UIN). His boss? BC works for the Pope. IT'S 2109, a time of war. BC is "officially" assigned as PR man to the Vatican Mission on Luna Prime, the major city on The Moon, as his cover. Just a mild mannered, young, twenty-something priest working for the New catholic Church on public relations. But he's really a weapon pointed at the UIN by the NcC and their Earth based allies, the Universal Trade Zone, the UTZ.


Sometimes, you can’t help but wonder what would happen if all the religions (or most of them anyway) merged. For the most part, in Vatican Assassin, we’re looking at two main divisions of religion. There’s the UIN that I mentioned, and there’s the NcC. The UIN is pretty self-explanatory. But the New catholic Church is not specifically Catholic. Yes, they’re based in Vatican City, yes, they’re still led by the Pope, but they encompass very nearly every religion aside from Islam in this world. I never quite figured if it encompassed every other religion, but it’s got to be close. But when you consider the wars between religions these days (not to mention the history of religious wars like the Crusades), it’s not a surprise that Luoma has set a 2109 future world in the middle of a religious dispute. The UIN controls Mars, the NcC has Earth, and the moon stays pretty much neutral. It’s around the moon and its stance in the war that much of this book revolves, even if only perhaps 40-50% of the book actually takes place there.


I didn’t actually read Vatican’s Assassin. I listened to it through iTunes. In some ways, I wonder if this book would have been served better if I had read it. Honestly, the best part of this recording was Mike Luoma himself. He made character distinctions through voice that did help personify the characters in a way I don’t think the book could have. But honestly, that was about the only big draw of the book. There were some serious flaws that turned me off of the book and made it hard to digest. The first, and probably the most glaring issue, was that BC is a very passive character throughout the book. If I could give him a motto, or define him in one phrase, it would be “Might as well.” He says it too often, and it starts to get annoying. He just seemed to be a point around which the world happened. Too often, he was told to do things, and he just did them. The only real initiative he showed was at the very beginning, and even that was just reacting to circumstances. It was difficult to relate to him throughout. In a semi-related issue, too much of the book is spent in BC’s head. I could deal with him just thinking about things, but his thoughts are scattered and peppered in everything, even his conversations. Not to mention that much of the exposition and description of the world are told not through BC’s senses, but through his thoughts. We get told how the world is, not shown, and it effectively takes reading from being active to being passive, too.

The third issue, was the beginning. It was a huge infodump, and that didn’t really help to pull me into the world. All in all, I really think Luoma had a great idea and a great setting, and his characters could be wonderful. I just don’t think this was pulled off as well as it could be.

My Thoughts
I really wanted to like this book. But there was just too much that didn’t settle right with me to make me like it. The character and style problems were too much of a drawback to be balanced out by what was good about the book. I’m not saying that there is nothing worth reading in this book, but it just wasn’t for me. I do want to make it known that before I even listened to it, Mike Luoma informed me that this was a very early work. With that in mind, I can be more forgiving of him as an author. There’s always a lot of learning to do in the writing craft, and how are we going to become great authors without the mistakes? No one is perfect at anything the first time. That’s why I am looking forward to finding something more recent of his and read or listen to it. By listening to Vatican Assassin, I’ve gained a viewpoint of Luoma that I haven’t really had for many other authors. I’m going to get to see the serious growth he’s made. I look forward to it!

Would I Recommend This Book?  

Not particularly. While it had its draws, there were more than a few times that I considered stopping listening in the end. I really wanted to like this book, but it turns out I just wasn’t this book’s audience. I give it a cult-brainwashed 2 of 5 stars.

However, I am intrigued by Mike Luoma’s ideas and the subject matter of his other books. I will give him another try in the future. This book alone just didn’t do it for me.

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