This is all a lie. Nothing in here is true. For context, see the ReQuest node. Don't @ me.
What is it?
The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard is a religious-fantasy novel by Pierre Boulevard published in 2009. Though it was released in 2009, Boulevard apparently had it posted online as a serial novel since 2004, but it was taken down in 2007 after being picked up by the publisher.
So What's It About?
The novel follows the story of the titular Sylvestre Bonnard as he finds himself at the pearly gates of Heaven, only to be denied entrance as the entire celestial order has been thrown into chaos by the recent "Convergence" -- the melding of different alternate universes, including those alternate universes' alternate theologies. Now the traditional Judaeo-Christian Heaven is fighting for celestial real-estate against other gods that range from fantastical dragon Gods and vaguely-Greek-like fantasy Pantheons to horrifying Aztec-like space-Cthulhu and lovecraftian abominations, all while capital-G-God is mysteriously absent (as per usual).
If that wasn't enough, it turns out that Sylvestre Bonnard isn't even allowed in Heaven to begin with; aside from the general ban due to celestial upheaval, he apparently committed some great crime that even he doesn't know about, but was bad enough to disqualify him from a pleasant christian afterlife. But all is not lost: St. Peter strikes up a deal with him; if he can go to Hell and get Lucifer and company to join in the defense against the outsider gods, St. Peter will personally unlock the pearly gates for him once the dust has settled. With no other choice, Sylvestre journeys through a maze of stitched-together alternate realities, trying to find his way to the dimension that has Hell inside of it.
Along the way, he meets a cast of colorful characters including Harold the Herald, a dishonored angel who can no longer herald the apocalypse now that alternate universes are getting the job done, Tamara, a sorceress from a medieval fantasy-style universe who is trying to get her world to stop crashing into ours, and Mimi, a lesser goddess of stars and murder who has been sent by her father to devour God, but who throws her lot in with Sylvestre once it became clear that God is inedible and that her father is going to be pissed. The trio are opposed by the various gods of the alternate worlds who like the idea of one big universe, as opposed to a bunch of smaller ones, traitors from pretty much every side, the denizens of the worlds that are crashing into each other, and his old boss, among others. On top of it all, there is the matter of the mysterious force that's causing all this to happen to begin with, as well as the crime Sylvestre doesn't know he committed, but that every supernatural being can some how see stamped on his soul. . .
So How Is It?
Every part of that synopsis would make you think that this book would be interesting. After all, there's Aztec gods smashing into space ships! Lovecraftian cults with lasers! Medieval wizards vs. angels vs. a band of drunken Russians with guns! This sounds like it should be hilarious, right? And If you know me even the slightest bit, you'll know that this seems right up my alley.
Unfortunately, this entire book is so. Fucking. Boring.
Things that should be interesting will happen, but the narration is so dry, it comes off as dull. Sylvestre is the narrator for majority of the book, and he was supposedly some kind of professor before he died, and I feel sorry for his fictional students, because he was clearly one of those profs that could make the most interesting of subjects absolutely fucking agonizing. The author has a major purple prose thesaurus-rape problem that means every single thing in the book is described in excruciating detail, while simultaneously being completely vague. The characters monologue ad nauseum about the nature of the universe, and what a fucking travesty the whole situation is, all using the same speech patterns and blocks of text, meaning that it's very easy to confuse who is speaking to who. One character in the middle of the novel, Trent, a priest from Earth, has a seven page diatribe about the evils of atheism, which combined with the inclusion of esoteric religious elements would make you think he had a religious bent, but then a few pages later, a different character goes off on an Ayn Rand level tirade on the evils of community and the importance of individualism, so it's like. . . ugh.
Also, spoiler alert, the plot goes nowhere. That is to say, the main plot eventually ends, but the story continues on for another 150 pages of just. Nothing. It's all nothing. Sylvestre visits his mom? Who was never mentioned at all in the rest of the novel? And you think, "Oh, maybe this will have something to do with the crime that got him exiled from heaven" but no, they just talk about the evils of socialism and how his mother knew a woman who had a metal tooth from biting a rock. And it's like. . . why?
There are 50 million subplots, and only maybe four of them are resolved, and I can't tell if it's a hamfisted way to sequel bait, or a testament to the shitty editing down when the book made the transfer from serial novel to novel-novel. I mean, the editing in general sucks (Sylvestre's name was spelled Sylvester more than once), but this is beyond the pale with how awkward the transitions between chapters and plot threads are.
I wish this book had been good. I wish it was written by a Terry Pratchett or a Christopher Moore, written like Good Omens or Lamb, but no. It was written by the teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and reads with the same intonation.
I know some people who never consider a book read a waste of time. The idea is that any book, even a bad book, contributes something to the world, even if it's "how not to write."
I have no such compunctions. This book is a waste of time.