Plot: 4/5 Characters: 3/5 Writing: 3/5 Entertainment: 4/5 World Building: 3/5
“Gods Inc.” is a creative thrill ride with plenty of twists and turns to keep readers engaged from start to finished, but its unstable world building and bland protagonist hold it back from being anything truly spectacular, which is rather unfortunate considering its potential.
David never believed in the afterlife until he wound up there. After a terrible car accident cuts his life short, David finds himself knocked from his high-flying business executive position down to the rank of ‘rookie’ in a realm called First World. Here, spirits of the dead are called ‘Players’ and control the lives of living people, which are called ‘accounts.’ These spirits compete to prove themselves valuable to the companies of First World so that they can move up the ranks, avoid reincarnation, and even become gods. Give the life he just left, David figures he can climb the spiritual corporate ladder in no time, but when he finds out that a devious Player is in control of his wife’s account, David sends his new career off the tracks and avows to do everything in his power to protect her.
“Gods Inc.” has a strong enough story to keep readers engaged from beginning to end. Regardless of the world and the characters in it, it felt crucial that I saw the book to the end to see if David won, his wife ended up safe, and how many mysteries of First World were solved. Thankfully, the answers for all those plot elements were incredibly satisfying and surprising. Not everything or everyone was what they seemed and First World and King knew exactly what to reveal and when. The twists were set up perfectly, but weren’t obvious, they never broke any of the rules the author set up, and they moved the story along beautifully. She even kept enough mysteries up her sleeve to write a sequel if she wants, which I think could actually be pretty good. The nice thing about fantasy/sci-fi stories like this is that their stories have endless potential and “Gods Inc.” is no exception. Hopefully, if King does write that sequel, she’ll take time to flesh out First World and David, because they both could use some work.
I tried to be open to the idea of a soul’s existence in the afterlife being dependent on nine-to-five desk jobs because I thought it had some pretty funny potential. If David had been disappointed in First World or if other characters were used to make some decent commentary on modern Western society, I think First World could have been a lot of fun, but King takes the idea completely seriously, which is a bit disappointing. Even if it is in the afterlife, who wants to read about the daily goings on of a normal office? Not to mention, if it’s meant to be taken seriously, it doesn’t hold up. It sounds like souls all over the world end up in First World, but how are souls from different regions of the world supposed to adapt to an afterlife where the culture and customs are clearly based on England? Do they just get reincarnated? That’s problematic for obvious reasons. The way demons and guardian angels work isn’t explained very well either. It sounds like there’s a need for balance between the two, but towards the end a character mentions that too many guardian angels are running accounts, but the Gods mainly work for the demonic side. So why not get rid of the guardian angels and only keep spirits who clearly have a darker energy? As engaging and exciting as the story was, the flimsy world building kept pulling me out to ask questions that weren’t answered very well. Hopefully, if King writes another book, she can take the time to work all of that out, because it really does have some potential. Sort of like David.
I understand that David is supposed to be a jerk and is supposed to get a redemption arc when he’s in First World, but redemption arcs don’t work very well when the character in question keeps being a jerk. Maybe it’s because we didn’t see enough of David when he was alive, but his life in First World doesn’t strike me as a huge improvement. His only real redemptive actions involve saving his wife, but that doesn’t feel like a huge stretch since, as a married person, you’re supposed to protect your spouse. Yes, he was never very nice to her, but he never said or did anything that would lead me to believe he would let anything life-threatening happen to her. If he had stuck his neck out for more people who didn’t really benefit him at all, the redemption arc could have worked but, as is, it falls flat.
All that being said, I still think the story alone is worth checking out. It’s simple enough to follow and get invested in, but has enough surprises to keep you guessing and curious. If you just want an exciting story filled with unexpected twists, “Gods Inc.” is an enjoyable read. Just don’t think about any of it too hard.
As posted on tabbyafae.com on July 14th, 2016