Monday, May 19, 2008

I'm Putting The Heretic Where It Belongs - In The Trash

If a 17-year-old boy wrote a book detailing his deepest, darkest fantasies, it would probably read just like Andrew Feder's The Heretic. After all, what young man doesn't want a life like main character, Jerry Fletcher's? By day, Jerry works as a senator in a future version of L.A., drives a convertible Caddy, makes love to his girlfriend (who is, of course, a "hottie") and goes out for Korean with his ex, all in one day (Naturally, the ex is also a hottie). He's a foul-mouthed, take-no-prisoners kind of guy, who's respected by men and women (the former want to be just like him, while the latter line up to bed him).


Given his circumstances in the present, it is perhaps not difficult to believe that Jerry had it going on in a series of past lives as well. In The Heretic, he discovers his late career as a military hero in the army of Alexander the Great. Through a psychic, Jerry regresses back to his former self - Aias, military hero and husband of the beautiful Nefertiti. The remainder of the book consists of Aias telling his children (in great detail) about his prowess both on the battlefield and in the bedroom. In war, Aias conquers all, fighting like a machine to earn Greece the respect it deserves. His amazing combat skills cause the soldiers to wonder if he isn't a God descended from heaven. Predictably, he wins all his battles, never forgetting to give the glory to his buddy Alexander. So humble is the mighty Aias that he even insists his name be kept out of Alexander's journal, preferring to pass his heroics off as belonging to Hercules or other generals.

All of Aias' victories bring him women by the dozens, but he, of course, will have only the greatest beauty by his side - Nefertiti. They marry and have children who revere their father as a hero.

Ahhh ... sounds like any boy's fantasy, right? The problem lies in the fact that The Heretic is just that - a fantasy, not a story. It has no plot, no character development, no original word choice, and no moral. The only thing it has - and it has it in spades - is profanity, crappy dialogue and revolting sex scenes. Perhaps a talented writer could have crafted something worthy out of Feder's idea, but this author gives us only gems like this:


I began to thrust my sword, disembowling their insides before them. Those who stood along their disembowled brethren were in shock. With mercy, I quickly took them out of their shocking misery with a slice and a dice of my sword, allowing their falling beheaded bodies to next amongst the corpses of their companions (77).

To be fair, Feder published The Heretic himself (via AuthorHouse), so perhaps I shouldn't expect too much. Still, my 6-year-old just self-published a picture book (via IlluStory) and it's both more imaginative and better written than this one.


The funny thing is, Andrew Feder's bio makes him sound like a fascinating man, who has done plenty of interesting things. Part of his "education" included studying under psychic Janaeu St. Clair, which is probably where he got the idea of regression as a way to write historical fiction. Although I don't believe in psychic mumbo jumbo, I actually think this device is quite clever. I just wish Feder had put some effort into writing a real story - with a plot, rounded characters, witty dialogue and fresh writing. As is, The Heretic reads like a teenage boy's fantasy, complete with filthy language (Did ancient Greeks really use the F-word in every other sentence?), a hero without weakness, and women who will do anything he pleases. Like all teenage fantasies this one should have stayed where it belonged - safely inside the dreamer's head. Since it didn't, I'm going to do the world a favor and give The Heretic the funeral it deserves - in the bottom of my trash can.



Grade: F



5 comments:

  1. Wow, I completely appreciate your honesty will all of your book reviews. I know I can trust you to tell it the way it is. Thanks!

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  2. having read The Heretic, I think that you would probably want to throw Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions's in the Trash or Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint or Salinger's Catcher in the Rye in the trash too... having read many of your reviews I think that you should stick to Harry Potter since you have no clue on social commentary and/or satire... so I think that your site shows that you just stepped off the short bus...

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  3. Natasha - I try to always "tell it like it is" since I personally want to know if a book is worth reading before I spend my time on it.

    To Anonymous - Well, to each his own, I always say. For the record, I did hate Catcher in the Rye, but at least it was well written. I think the fact that Feder had to PAY to have his book published is particularly telling ... Seriously - you can't have read this book if you are comparing Feder to Vonnegut, Roth and Salinger.

    By the way, if your name is Andrew, I will gladly send your book back :)

    Also, you are welcome to take shots at me and my reviews (in fact, I encourage it), but hiding behind an anonymous comment is a tad bit cowardly.

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  4. it is obvious... you don't have a clue,,, the proper name for this blogsite - CLUELESS...

    And it figures that you wouldn't like Catcher in the Rye...

    Having read both Feder's novels and obviously the many scholars, authors and professors who did.... And I would concur with them... His books make you think and question....

    Oh yeah I did say think... something you obviously are lacking... You should stick to food books and play the couch potato and since you have so little self-worth continue to rag on those who have something more to say then in your case - super size it! get a life...

    simply a fan of Feder's....

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  5. I will be honest and admit that as I was reading your review I wondered if the book could really be that bad, but when I read your sampling of the text, I almost laughed out loud.

    I'm not sure I would have picked this one up on my own anyway, but now I will definately steer clear.

    Thanks for the great review!

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