Posted on February 19, 2009 by Monica Valentinelli
The Trouble With Being God is the first book published by William F. Aicher, about a journalist named Steven Carvelle and the murders he is covering. Dubbed a “philosophical thriller,” The Trouble With Being God delves into heady themes while we watch Steven’s struggle with one question, “Did he do it? Did he really commit those murders?”
Part-horror, part-thriller, the book is written well and attempts to bring in philosophical questions from a non-believer’s perspective. Structurally, the chapters are fairly short and Aicher offers a suggested song playlist to play right along with every chapter. The short chapter structure and the change in narrative forced me to read quickly, and made me think that Steven was the killer who was trying to justify what he had done through his philosophical treatise. I found that contrast to be interesting, because the murders had religious overtones (i.e. a priest dies horribly), and although there was evidence of the faithful, they didn’t argue their points with Steven which led me to believe that he was guilty.
Structurally, there were some challenges with how the novel progressed. The murders were done in one voice and the character’s point-of-view shifts from Steven to Miles to other major characters in the work. I felt that this structure distracted me from Steven’s character and put a bit of emotional distance between myself and the main character, so I didn’t care what happened to him. I didn’t feel his demise or empathize with his personal struggles because Steven didn’t give me a reason to.
The best written parts of this story were the descriptions of the murders. Poetic and languid, Aicher has a flair for describing the things that lurk in the dark. The weakest parts of this story happened toward the end; I don’t want to give anything away, but I felt that it was not an appropriate ending for this sort of a novel. Give me justice, give me conflict, but don’t give me open questions.
One of the things that’s interesting to see nowadays, are the many authors who are going the route of self-publishing. As a self-published book, even though there are structural challenges that I have with the book, there aren’t any visible typos and the writing is not indicative of an inexperienced author. The book is also well-constructed, and is available through the Kindle format as well. I should note that to promote the work, it was originally available for free on his website located here: http://www.beinggod.com/. Although there are previews of the book, you can read other online reviews of The Trouble With Being God as well.
While the book could have benefited from a content editor’s feedback, I expect that Aicher will take structure into consideration for his next work. In terms of a rating for this first book by William F. Aicher, I would have to give The Trouble With Being God a three out of five stars.
Review by Monica Valentinelli