Review: Jason Brannon opens The Tears of Nero with explosive intrigue and action. The reader, like the protagonists, are thrown right into the conflict without reason or explanation. This is a gutsy move on Brannon's part. On the one hand, it grabs the reader's attention. On the other hand, though, it results in very little upfront characterization. Indeed, the opening chapters of the novel are propelled forward by plot and not by the characters. But something interesting happens as the five strangers traverse the dangers and traps of the island... as they get to know each other, we begin to bond with them. It took me time to care about most of the characters, but before I knew it, I really did.
The Tears of Nero is an amalgam of genres. Adventure, spy, supernatural tale, and esoteric religious thriller all accurately describe this story.
This book took me a long time to read. Not because it is massive (although it is long) or because it was boring. By no means! Personal life events severely limited my free time. The result, though, was that I was able to spend months inside this supernatural mystery. The story built over months, and the tension paid off in the end.
I only have mild criticisms for the book. The Nero character's timeline of life events didn't always seem to add up for me. And the main crux of the book, Why does God allow bad things happen to good people? has a reasonable answer by the end of the book, but as a theologian I anticipated a more robust response to this age-old "problem of evil."
Beyond those hiccups I enjoyed the world Jason Brannon has created. And while this is a stand-alone novel, Brannon sews into the narrative a few subplots that will work their way into a follow-up novel.
Fans of spy, cult-plots, supernatural warfare and religious thrillers should check out The Tears of Nero. It's a great book.
Rating: 4.5/5 (I REALLY Liked It!)