Weird Theology (Small Worlds #1) by Alex Raizman - Book Review

Weird Theology (Small Worlds #1) by Alex Raizman - Book Review

Write on: Mon, 29 Jul 2019 by  in SPFBO Reviews 2860 comments Read 49508

Alex Raizman’s Weird Theology is…weird…in the best possible way.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a god? Well, Ryan Smith doesn’t need to wonder, because he is one now. After being watched by an invisible and unspeaking man in a suit for his entire life, Ryan is something of a wreck. This man has followed Ryan for as long as he can remember, never speaking but constantly taking notes, and Ryan’s inability to make anyone believe him has ruined every relationship he’s ever had. So he’s understandably perplexed when after discovering the last nanoverse the man in the suit peaces out.

Turns out, Ryan is the Eschaton, the final god of this epoch, and destined to bring about the end of the world (for reasons that enter spoiler territory). Unfortunately doing so will kill every living person on the planet…something he super doesn’t want to do. Teaming up with a goddess everyone hates, Ryan is desperate to find a way to end the world without…ya know…genocide. All the while a bunch of misguided and occasionally evil gods and goddesses work to stop him.

The world has to end…it’s all a matter of how.

As with my last SPFBO book, I went into Weird Theology knowing nothing more than what the cover told me (*cue He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands and It’s a Small World After All played at the same time). Both songs set the mood for story. Weird Theology is zany, fun, and self-aware in a Douglas Adams sort of way. The narrator is omniscient, describing everyone’s thoughts and emotions as they’re happening without falling into their voices. As someone who prefers limited omniscience, it can sometimes feel jarring, but Raizman handles it well.

The story has some tonal issues that are not completely unnecessary to the plot. Sometimes it was hard to really feel the tension as stakes got ramped up because the main characters were tending to their god-like Hungers (a device that makes a ton of in-world sense, but also slows down the action).

The magic system is really cool. Gods can see the mathematics of the universe and manipulate them, creating and controlling weather phenomena, weaponizing sunlight, and pulling various weapons from their nanoverses.

Ryan is an easy guy to root for despite his fainting spells, and there’s a fun ensemble cast. There is a character with a fake British accent who insists on inserting words like love, bloody, and wankers into every damn sentence. Alex tells you it’s annoying, and it is. There came a point when I started omitting words from her dialogue because it was just driving me nuts.

The ending suffers a little bit from being part of a series. There’s some closure, but the overarching narrative doesn’t end. Not a complaint, just an observation. I intend to read Strange Cosmology when it comes out so it doesn’t matter a whole lot to me, but future readers should expect it. At 97%, I wondered how it would all wrap up…it didn’t.

In conclusion, Weird Theology is a lot of fun, an urban fantasy with shades of Adams and Pratchett. If you’re looking for something a little different, I recommend checking it out. I doubt you’ll regret it.

Not for nothing, it’s also a fun series for me to speculate future titles: Spontaneous Mythology, Eerie Eschatology, Harmless Hamartiology, Satirical Soteriology, etc. You can have that.

Last modified on Wednesday, 23 October 2019 01:36

John Scritchfield spends his days caring for his four children and his nights wearing costumes and pretending to hit people with blunt weaponry. There is very little money it. He holds an MFA in Acting, which he puts to use as the Creative Director for the Calvin Theatre Company at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he also teachesIn his free time, he enjoys playing Dungeons & Dragons, reading, writing, and spending time with his wife, children, and two cats (Jasnah and Vin). Oh, he's also the Booknest co-Admin.


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