I saw this book discussed by the author on John Scalzi’s blog, Whatever, as a part of his big idea series. In this series of posts, Scalzi asks authors to write about their inspiration or their line of reasoning about the premise of their books. The Edge of Reason by Melinda Snodgrass appeared a couple of weeks ago, and I happened to see it when I went to a Barnes and Noble a little over a week ago. In her big idea piece, Snodgrass wrote about her thoughts about the ongoing conflict between science (reason) and religion. Her idea was to take that struggle and amplify it, to the point where there’s an out and out war between the two.
In The Edge of Reason, the protagonist is an Albuquerque policeman turned paladin, Richard. After saving a young witch, he finds himself right in the center of this long-running war, working for Kenntniss, the embodiment of reason. Unlike a lot of other horror/mysteries, you know exactly who the bad guy is. What the good guys have to figure out how to take him down. Fortunately for Richard, he has friends to help him, especially since Snodgrass seems to have given him an extra helping of internal character conflict.
a lot. It’s like we enter a kind of holding pattern where nothing much happens. The characters hunker down for the big showdown that you know is coming. It almost kills the wonderful tension, the buzz, that Snodgrass builds up in the first quarter of the book. It reminded me a little of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, where you have a great premise, characters, etc., but all the plot seems to happen at the beginning and the end of the book and the middle is just there to connect the two.
The other problem that I have with this book is the ending. I don’t like it when the ending of the book is basically a set up for the next book. I have no problem with series, but I hate it when the point of a book is to set you up for the next book. If your characters are compelling and the story is intriguing, why make your ending a cliffhanger? Or worse, just a pause? If you’ve read this blog before (or you’ve talked to me about books), you know how much I dislike it when books don’t have endings. I like plots to stand on their own for the most part. If an author wants to have the story from book one lead into book two, why not write a bigger book? I have no problem reading long books. (In fact, I tend to skip over books with spines that are less than an inch in the bookstores. I like long stories). Or, if you really want to have more than one book, why not end the first book a little sooner, like after the big showdown?