Pandaemonium – Christopher Brookmyre

Ingredients:

  • Scotland
  • Physicists running a top-secret project in an underground military facility
  • The Vatican running their own secret project in that same underground facility
  • A busload of Catholic school teenagers going on a school-facilitated retreat to deal with the recent violent death of a classmate
  • Booze, drugs, and teenage hookups
  • Demons (not metaphorical)

If you mix those ingredients together, do you know what you get?

PANDEAMONIUM.

This book is so good. SO GOOD.

It’s much more than the ingredients listed above, too. There are a lot of cool scientific theories and theological debates written into the story. Then of course, there is also The Debate about science vs. theology. Scottish dialog is written in Scottish vernacular, which I love. There is a video game aspect to the story that had me laughing and geeking out. And Brookmyre nails what it’s like to be a (Catholic) teenager: their thoughts, feelings, anxieties, desires, juvenile humor, and the way they treat one another are all on point (and sometimes hilarious). Thinking back to my teenage self, I could relate to just about all of it from one perspective or another (I can’t personally relate to Catholic guilt, but I can understand why it’s a thing). I looked Brookmyre up (he’s a new-to-me author), and he’s a Scot who went to Catholic school, so I guess it’s no wonder that he gets all of that right.

And there is gore…so much detailed, disgusting gore. I’m down with that.

There isn’t any part of this book that I didn’t like. If you’re into straight-up gore, cool science, and interesting theological discussions, Pandaemonium is all of that wrapped up in a well-written, (sometimes darkly) humorous story. I highly recommend it.

Favorite quotes:

“Still, when one prick faces off against another, there’s a certain satisfaction to be had in the anticipation that at least one of them will suffer as a result of the encounter, and if you’re really lucky, both.”

“So, having waited nine billion years for Earth to form, then held off another four and a half billion for his chosen species to fully evolve, He blows his wad early by sending down his messiah during the Bronze Age? If he wanted us to believe in Him and to live by His Word, couldn’t He have hung on another infinitesimal couple of millennia and sent his miracle-working superhero ambassador in the age of broadcast media and other verifiable means of record, instead of staking thirteen and a half billion years’ work on the reliability of a few goat-herders in an insignificant backwater of a primitive civilisation?”

“‘You bring books up mountains?’ Cameron asks.
‘I bring books everywhere. You never know when you might get a quiet five minutes to read.’”

What say you, lovely readers?

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