Review of ‘Mundis Veridis and the End of the World’ by Mim Lennon
If you are going to write seriously, then the best thing you can do is find a peer group of other writers who will ruthlessly review your work. People who will be rude, heartless, cruel. Who will say things like ‘were you on the gin when you wrote that sentence?’ and will tell you that your fantasy character’s name ‘sounds like something gynaecological.’ If you can take such honest criticism then it will improve your writing hugely, and when they say ‘that paragraph is beautifully written’ or ‘I liked the hint of underlying conflict in that dialogue’ you will believe them and be encouraged. The last thing you need is people saying kind white lies – ‘that’s lovely’ – while secretly thinking ‘what rubbish’.
I doubt very much that Mundis Veridis went through such searing reviews, and it is a pity, because it contains a brilliant idea. It could have been such a good book – the devil’s viewpoint on the rebirth of Isreal. Mim Lennon can be very funny and has a great imagination.
Even a basic peer review would have corrected the numerous punctuation mistakes and typos. Some of the prose is clunky and seems to have been written in a rush without reading it back afterwards. For example: “Green beings who were fortunate, they were able to stay in London; others who had fallen foul of the Boss or were working their way up the corporate ladder had to do a stint on the Western Front.” There were a lot of clichés. And no author should use the word ‘nice’ in a description!
There are faults in the writing. We are told, over and over again, that Mundis and others are green, until I was tired of it. How about using a thesaurus to find a few synonyms for ‘green’? Key elements of story-telling are missing in many passages: characterisation, action, dialogue, description. There is an over-reliance on exposition and the ‘show don’t tell’ rule is broken again and again. There is no sense of theme or foreshadowing.
In the first chapter the author presents the ‘Emergent church’ as a satanic plan to fool everyone except the ‘true believers’. I know the emergent church is a mixed bag (like the traditional church), but to label it as devilish is arrogant, ignorant and just plain wrong. Is the author saying that there are no true Christians in the emergent church? Has anyone read her book and honestly told her what is wrong with it?
I was looking forward to being entertained and informed about the birth of the state of Israel. But I was confused and annoyed after the introduction of Alfred Dreyfus. I didn’t know enough history to be able to understand what was going on nor what the significance was, and the author did not explain. The story suddenly jumped forward to Herzl, whoever he was, and left me with too many unanswered questions. At that point I gave up. If I couldn’t learn anything from these initial chapters, then I did not want to wade through the rest of the chapters.
I hate to say it of a fellow author, and I truly hope Mim can find some useful honest friends to help her, but I can’t recommend this book. It needs a complete re-write, some trustworthy peer-reviewing, some ruthless editing and some attention to literary techniques. The imaginative idea at the heart of the story deserves this.