You certainly can’t say that The nth Day doesn’t have a great premise. Essentially, God has returned – an immaculate conception, once again, although this time to a fairly unworthy couple who seems to be less holy and devout than you might hope for. As they start raising their unique child, the book cuts to other characters, including a millionaire who disguises himself as a beggar, a little girl who gets saved by this new Incarnation, and more.
Oh, and did I mention that this becomes a horror novel?
That’s all a pretty solid hook for a novel, and one that could go in a lot of interesting directions. And the fact that it ends up as gory and violent as it does is a pretty intriguing one…except for the fact that, even having read the book, I’m not sure I could tell you why it ends up the way it does. Or why this millionaire enjoys dressing as a beggar. Or why pretty much anything happens in this book. God exists and is reborn, and is apparently a little bit of a brat – He kills his parents when He loses at Connect Four. More or less. And that’s before he starts wandering the Earth and smiting a whole lot of people.
The nth Day, really, is a mess. There are some interesting ideas here and there – the section in which God destroys all money in the world is compelling, and there are some fascinatingly weird derails along the way. But the characters are almost entirely, uniformly awful. Orphans get abused and molested. Children get neglected. Everyone’s awful, everyone’s flawed, and everyone deserves to die. Which, apparently, God is pretty okay with, I guess, although I have no idea why, or why he’s back, or what his goal is, beyond walking around a lot and messing with people. And once you add in blank characters and unclear plotting to some weak writing, you’ve got a book that just doesn’t have a huge amount to recommend it. Huls has some neat ideas here and there, and there’s a novel book buried somewhere in this mess. But it’s far from evident, and probably at least one or two re-writes away from emerging.