Necessary Evil and the Greater Good – Adam Ingle
Posted by maddalena@spaceandsorcery
When I was contacted about reviewing it, I thought the subject matter was somewhat strange and out of my “comfort zone”, but I was curious enough to stick my neck out, so to speak, and see what it was about. Well, the gamble paid off, because it was an outlandishly funny read.
Mestoph and Leviticus are a demon and an angel, respectively, and despite working for rival companies – Hell Industries and Heaven Inc. – they have struck an age-long friendship, based on their mutual dissatisfaction with their boring, routine jobs. What Mestoph and Leviticus want more than anything else is to escape that boredom, and to that end they concoct a crazy plan to bring about the end of the world, breaking the impasse created between their firms and a third player, Free Will International – a company founded by “highly evolved humans of scrupulous moral character from various religions and walks of life such as Gandhi, Mother Theresa, and Larry King”.
The two friends set in motion a plan that involves the theft of an Omen and a Prophecy, and the forced participation of two hapless humans, Marcus and Stephanie – plus Marcus’ very special dog, Sir Regi. As most crazy plans are wont to do, this one starts with the wrong foot and goes spectacularly from bad to worse, in a kaleidoscopic, Hitchhikers-Guide-like merry-go-round that calls into play several figures from major religions and mythical characters from the Norse and Greek pantheons, just to name a few.
Tongue-in-cheek humor is the main ingredient of this book: humor about beliefs, about iconic figures, heroes and myths, but it’s never disrespectful – at least I never saw it that way, even when it involved beings like the Christian God himself, or Saint Peter, or Satan. I think that even people who hold strong beliefs could not feel offended by the story’s take on such figures because it’s done with a light hand and the will to bring up a smile, not to make impolite fun of it all.
Heaven and Hell are depicted like multinational industries, with highly-placed CEOs who behave like their mundane counterparts, and floors upon floors of employees who carry on in what looks like corporate drudgery: so it’s not difficult to feel sympathy for the two rebels, especially when the reader realizes that, far from being bona fide supernatural beings, they are prone to astounding mistakes just like the rest of us poor mortals. One of the main strengths of the book comes from the interaction and friendship between Leviticus and Mestoph, their rapid-fire conversations and their equally bumbling attempts at playing conspirators: the fact that they are actually trying to destroy the human race to… liven up their existence, becomes less important than their antics as they strive to reach that goal.
The book is not immune from some flaws, like several typos that need to be addressed, or the lack of deeper characterization for Marcus and Stephanie, that are overshadowed by their better-defined companions, even the ones that serve as minor figures, but all in all these flaws don’t detract from the enjoyment of the book.
Among the many, many funny gags aimed at popular culture that pepper the story, I want to quote the one that made me laugh out louder than others:
Mestoph set the Omen down, opened his trench coat, and pulled out a large poster tube from the deep pocket he had dubbed the Highlander Pocket, named for the propensity of the sword-wielding characters from the popular movies and TV series to pull a full-sized katana or claymore from out of nowhere.
This is just one example of the kind of humor you will find in this book, a fast, entertaining and different story that I can happily recommend if you want to enjoy something unusual.
My Rating: 7/10