Book review: 2012

2012: The War For Souls2012: The War For Souls by Whitley Strieber

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a nutty action adventure that combines Whitley Strieber’s beliefs about the soul, climate change and life after death with the 2012 doomsday prophecies, parallel universes and an overarching plot that has a pulpy L. Ron Hubbard feel to it, right down to a reptilian-humanoid alternate Earth that wants to crush (and eat) soft, puny humans.

It also features an explosive Ann Coulter cameo that proves Strieber still has a sense of humor.

Some spoilers follow, though most are revealed fairly early on in the story.

The story begins on an alternate version of Earth that is mostly the same but with a few notable differences–two moons instead of one, a different geopolitical make-up (no world wars, the British Empire remains ascendant, peace generally prevails). Fourteen ancient sites around the world suddenly blow up, revealing gigantic lenses that have been put in place thousands of years before to allow the inhabitants of Abaddon (evil snake people Earth) to burst through and nosh on the souls of alternate Earth. The soul is presented as a scientific reality, a kind of plasma that persists after a body expires, though it can be permanently extinguished. The snakes know how to bottle and destroy souls and feed on them. With their world messed up, they plan on using the lenses to take over both of the other Earths.

While the story gets progressively weirder and outlandish as the world of Abaddon is fully revealed, there are still plenty of well-executed scenes depicting alien incursions into both of the “good” Earths, and many of the characters have a loopy “what the hell” attitude that keeps things from bogging down. There is a sincerity in the way Strieber writes about family bonds and how they endure, even if I couldn’t stop picturing the enemies in the story as guys in big rubber snakeman suits.

2012 is not a great book and I felt the execution didn’t quite live up to the presentation but it’s an enjoyable enough read.

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