The Younger Gods by Michael R. Underwood

yyyyyeeeeesh, almost, but not quite 6 months late. What is wrong with me? Let’s see if I can remember enough to make this work:

The Younger GodsThe Younger Gods

by Michael R. Underwood
Series:The Younger Gods, #1


ebook, 280 pg.
Pocket Star, 2014
Read: November 20 – 22, 2014

Are you quite sure you don’t want to even try to seek cover?” I asked.
“Cover is what stands between me and stabbing things,” [Carter] said by way of response.
Let it not be said to my resident assistant that I constrained my roommate. He was his own man. Even if that man was insane at times.

One of Michael R. Underwood’s most impressive traits is his versatility. We’ve got the fun Urban Fantasy adventures of Ree Reyes, the strange superheroes of Audec-Hal, and now, this darker UF about a cult’s white sheep trying to stop the apocalypse.

Jacob Greene — of those Greenes (apparently) — has come to New York to attend university — and get away from his family and their demon-worshiping apocalyptic cultish practices that will usher in The End of the World as We Know It. He’s had enough of all of it, and is trying to get beyond their teachings, their practices, their . . . murderous ways. It’s more difficult than he expects, especially when his sister comes to town in order to usher in Doomsday.

Jacob finds himself surrounded with a motley crew of allies — mostly in the mold of the-enemy-of-my-enemy — trying to keep his sister from accomplishing her Ultimate To-Do list. Let me tell you, this particular UF version of NYC is full of quite the assortment of magical cultures/subcultures. The rules governing them, the way they interact with each other are one of the strengths of this novel — a nice little bit of world-building that was revealed, not dumped on the reader.

Jacob, understandably, spends a good deal of the book sorting out his identity in light of his family — as well as his feelings for/about them. There are no easy answers waiting for him. It’s here, not his running away from his family, not his attempts to stop his sister, that Jacob finds that bit of humanity that he’s been missing.

Was it still love if the people that loved you were monsters? Did their actions taint everything they did, or was there some humanity in the family? Had they ever really loved one another, or was it a mask, a role that each Greene has played to further the goals of the Bold and awaken the unborn? There was a film, some film, that matched this feeling. I’d heard someone talk about it in class.

Jacob’s ending gambit had me groaning, “Underwood’s not going to do that, is he?” Turns out 1. He did; and 2. It totally worked. I couldn’t believe it. I was expecting a cheesy car wreck, but he nailed it. Note to self: don’t doubt Michael R. Underwood again.

My biggest gripe was Jacob’s language. He starts off with the most formal, stilted dialogue this side of an Austen novel; slang was a foreign language he was trying to adopt. By the end of the novel, however, a lot of that was gone. Now, it’s possible, I just got used to his language — but I don’t think so. Mostly, it was his use of slang that improved dramatically. Now, if it had happened slower — over a book or two, I wouldn’t have noticed — or, more likely, I’d have given Underwood props for it. But . . .this book covers events of a few days, far too quickly for Jacob to pull that off. Still, as far as gripes go . . . that’s pretty small.

It’s not Underwood’s best — but it’s a good start, and I can eventually see me saying something different about the series as a whole. Great magic system, a situation I’ve never encountered in any of the UF I’ve read, a solid group of characters to build from — I can honestly say that I have almost no idea what’s up next for Jacob Greene et al. But I’m looking forward to finding out.

—–

3.5 Stars

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