Breaking the Devil’s Heart by H.A. Goodman
2012, Outskirts Press
My Rating: 3/5
*this book was sent to me to review by the author
When Stewart and Layla recruit a demon to spy on the Devil, their decision takes them on whirlwind ride through the afterlife. Journey alongside this young couple in H. A. Goodman’s new novel, Breaking the Devil’s Heart, and join forces with a teenage Angel outcast to bankrupt Satan’s underground Company and save Heaven from civil war. H. A. Goodman’s Breaking the Devil’s Heart is a rollercoaster afterlife experience that tests a young couple’s love, their grasp on reality, and the essence of human nature. What happens when Stewart and Layla tour Hell’s Marketing Department and Stock Exchange? What happens when their relationship is tested by Satan? This book is unlike anything you’ve ever read, or ever thought the afterlife might be like. Breaking the Devil’s Heart is an enlightening look into an alternate world, a new afterlife, and a profound journey inside the human conscience. (Source: Goodreads.com)
This is a sequel to the Logic Of Demons, but the book can be read as a stand-alone. I did not read the first book before diving into this one.
The first thing to stick out to me was the writing. It felt a bit forced at first, as if H.A. Goodman sat with a thesaurus next to him the entire time. However, as the story progressed, I got used to his writing and so it didn’t bother me anymore. The writing was very thorough but did use some cliches and the segments describing romance seemed a bit cheesy. But overall, the writing was decent.
The idea behind the story is the strongest part of the novel. Our protagonists are Observers – potential Angels that have decided to work closer to Satan in order to rid the world of evil instead of spending an eternity in Heaven. I liked how Goodman made the afterlife seem like a seamless pass from life to death, and just how similar the two dimensions are. What is your idea of Hell? How about being an overworked, under-appreciated employee of a corporation? That is Goodman’s idea of Hell, and although the environment does get more intricate, the concept behind it all is very easy to relate to. Some of it felt very tongue in cheek, but I liked it. Demons/Devils should be sly and quick with the tongue – which is exactly what I found.
The biggest theme of the novel is philosophical – what is human nature? Are humans inherently born good or bad? What is the power of persuasion? What is it like to be under the influence of someone or something else? Our protagonists, Stewart and Layla, go on an adventure layered with eggshells through the depths of Hell and the human conscience. The imagination behind the more “Angelic” scenes of the book, in which a character enters another person’s memory or similar, were creative but still felt very philosophical. The methods of transmission are topics that readers could easily discuss.
There are some scenes that are suitable for mature readers because they deal with violence and crimes. Some of the topics are unsettling, but it is key to remember that we are dealing with a story with characters that are in Hell. The reason why a few of them ended up there is slipped out here and there, but some readers may find that uncomfortable. Personally, I found it to really heighten that theme of human nature.
Overall, I liked this book because I felt it did a great job at exploring some philosophical issues for those of us that aren’t too crazy about philosophy in general. The situations are easy to relate to and imagine. Sure, there is a bit of fantasy thrown in, but the book does get you to think. It also deals with the relationship between Stewart and Layla, showing that they are both just regular people caught up in this whirlwind of justice.
This book did not get a 5/5 rating because the writing wasn’t my style (some bits too wordy, some parts cheesy), some parts felt like it dragged, and the plot felt a bit slow in some parts.