When the church service commenced that morning, the last thing everyone expected was a madman with a bomb and a demand that God either reveal himself or watch as he turns his followers into a fine, red mist.
Little known fact, your favorite zombie grew up in the church himself. That’s right, before I became a ravenous member of the living dead as an adult, I was a rebellious teenager doing all he could to piss off his preacher father. I’m not sure what it is about growing up in the church that makes a teen so dead set on doing whatever he or she can to piss off his respective congregation. I guess it’s our attempts to impress the lord who just isn’t going to be impressed by the standard acts of rebellion. When a deity watches countless wars, amazing acts of heroism, and untold levels of betrayal, seeing someone spray painting the dreaded “F” word on the sides of buildings isn’t going to garner any more than a raised eyebrow, so we look for other methods of rebellion. Those were fun years to be honest, though I kept my acts of rebellion to more mischievous matters, braking into the electrical room to turn on the sprinklers during outside chapel, taking off the “Do Not Remove” stickers from all the hymnals after everyone left service, and just generally making a nuisance of myself. One thing I never thought about doing though was strapping a bomb to my chest and demanding God show himself to me, that might have been a little too rebellious for my tastes. Besides, if he didn’t show himself when I put goldfish in the baptism water, how was I supposed to know a bomb would have done it.
Our Sunday services tale begins like most church services, the preacher does his preaching, the congregation does their singing, and everyone gets the little bit of God they need to get through the rest of the week, but then one young man stands up to ask a question, does the preacher believe God is real. The preacher thinks he’s about to get a new convert, thanking the lord for his opportunity, but this young man isn’t going to be satisfied by the standard answers. No seeing the face of God in every baby’s face for this lad, no, he wants to hear the voice of God himself, wants the almighty to come down and speak to them all, and he’s willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve his goal. He has strapped a bomb to his chest, one capable of killing everyone in the church, and unless God comes down to reveal himself, this young man means to do it.
Author Kit Power manages to take what sounds like a simple premise and turn it into something so incredible that it blew this reviewer away. I know it’s an often overused statement, but I couldn’t put this book down once I started to get into it, having to finish it mostly in one sitting because I had to keep reading, had to discover what was going to happen to a roster of characters that were not guaranteed to make it to the end, characters he introduces in an interesting way by giving us a small list that includes their age and a one or two word reason for why they’re in that specific church before starting up his story with an introduction to the year 1995, these things helping to set up the tone of the story and what you’re about to delve into. The thing that amazes me is that the entirety of the story takes place only over a span of several hours, yet contains so much in terms of story, emotion, and development as you are taken along with churchgoers who were all looking for their own sense of peace, and those churchgoers are whom the story hangs on as you read through.
The characters Power manages to create are at the crux of why his story entraps the reader so thoroughly, drawing them in further and further until the only thing that will allow you to stop is the end of the book. Each one of those you’ll meet has a reason for being there, whether it’s a hopeful relief from addiction, a desire for petty revenge, or a life that has been turned around, one that was destined for ruination but saved by a belief in God. You’ll find out quite a bit about them in only a short amount of time, never more than you need, but just enough to understand who these people are and why they’ve come to church. It gives you a connection to them as you read that wouldn’t have been there without a better understanding of each character’s motivations. They were all very well written, to the point I think everyone reading it will find something that they can relate to, all thanks to how much Power adds to these characters in terms of what kind of people they are all. It makes you hang on their every word as you learn more about them, sometimes loving them, sometimes liking them, sometimes hating them. I think the greatest example of this is the bomber himself whom you will go back and forth with, understanding his reasoning at times, even feeling pity for the guy, then absolutely despising him and wishing someone would put a bullet through his skull, before finding yourself almost coming to understand him once again. Kit Power has a true talent for writing characters, and this zombie raises his glass to him.
What was even better was how the tone and style of the story changed based on which character was being focused on at that particular time. It will jump around from person to person, but always focuses on one specific character at a time and how they’re handling the situation, giving us an inside view of what they’re thinking or feeling, and the tone will change based on who that is. So while one section might be told in a harried, frantic way, the next might be more alert and decisive, the next giving way to unconfident, fearful feelings. The constant change in tone kept the reader from ever growing too comfortable or assured of what was going on. It was that change that kept me engrossed in the read, always waiting for things to change up and take a new direction. That new direction might last an entire chapter, or it might last only a few pages, you were always kept guessing. I loved the tonal changes, and was impressed at how well they were written, something immensely important because if it hadn’t have been written with just the right amount of finesse it could have become confusing to the reader, throwing them around as they tried to immerse themselves, but this was thankfully far from the case. While the tonal changes between characters might have kept the reader guessing, they were at no time confusing.
GodBomb! was an intense ride, one that delved into spirituality in an interesting way, not by giving us a supernatural tale, but by making us question our beliefs and why we believe what we do. There are times where you can see yourself in the bomber’s shoes, asking the same questions he’s asking the congregation. It also forces us to look at what we would do when facing a similar situation, would we still hold onto our beliefs or would we fold and give in to a person seething just beneath the surface. Some might not find this a horror story, instead placing it closer to drama, but I’d have to disagree. While this isn’t going to be your classic horror tale, it does involve a monster, the monster of doubt that lies within us all, driving us ever forward to discover the secrets of the universe. The unknown has always been far more haunting to me than any creature ever could be. Except where bears are involved, I think we can all agree that bears are the scariest things ever. GodBomb! is a must read, a perfectly written novel that will draw you in and refuse to let go until it’s consumed you whole…much like bears.
The Undead Review
Published: The Sinister Horror Company
Written By: Kit Power
Rotten Heads: Five Heads Out of Five