My name is Landon Hamilton. Once upon a time I was a twenty-three year old security guard, trying to regain my life after spending a year in prison for stealing people's credit card numbers.
Now, I'm dead.
Okay, I was supposed to be dead. I got killed after all; but a funny thing happened after I had turned the mortal coil...
I met Dante Alighieri - yeah, that Dante. He told me I was special, a diuscrucis. That's what they call a perfect balance of human, demon, and angel. Apparently, I'm the only one of my kind.
I also learned that there was a war raging on Earth between Heaven and Hell, and that I was the only one who could save the human race from annihilation. He asked me to help, and I was naive enough to agree.
Sounds crazy, I know, but he wished me luck and sent me back to the mortal world. Oh yeah, he also gave me instructions on how to use my Divine 'magic' to bend the universe to my will. The problem is, a sexy vampire crushed them while I was crushing on her.
Now I have to somehow find my own way to stay alive in a world of angels, vampires, werewolves, and an assortment of other enemies that all want to kill me before I can mess up their plans for humanity's future. If that isn't enough, I also have to find the queen of all demons and recover the Holy Grail.
It's not like it's the end of the world if I fail.
Wait. It is.
©2013 Michael Forbes (P)2014 Michael Forbes
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"Nobody likes me.. Everybody hates me."
This describes the main character. He goes from being a part-time security guard to being one of 3-4 people who basically have the entire universe against them He has to help maintain the balance between good and evil because if either side wins humanity ultimately loses. Combine this with a scenario similar to Greatest American hero, where the good guy loses the instruction book for his powers and you have an interesting ride ahead.
This is a well written book. The story is action packed and the author knows how to write a good fight scene. The world is interesting and takes a worn out old trope and breathes some new life into it. The main character has to fight both heaven and hell, so you get a perspective most books never cover.
The narrarator did an excellent job. He had a great range of voices and each was a distinct character. My only complaint would be that the character development was pretty thin. Hopefully this will improve as the series develops. There is a lot of potential for conflict. Right now the bad guys are winning so it is easy for the protagonist to justify what he does. it will be really interesting if the good guys get the upper hand and he has to start thinning that herd.
Overall, a fun and entertaining book. Balance is definitely worth a credit if you are looking for a new series to follow.
The author was able to take the cliched theme of Heaven vs. Hell and give it a refreshing twist. The addition of a third side to the classic war between good and evil, a side that can never win but must always prevent one of the others from winning, really gave this theme the shot in the arm it needed. Heaven vs. Hell stories are a dime a dozen, but this one really shined. The characters in the story, despite their supernatural nature, were believable and felt very real. The protagonist, Landon Hamilton, quickly becomes a fleshed out and viable character that one can enjoy routing for.
There were several moments that count as memorable and it hard to pick just one. However, the initial scene between Landon and Josette stood out. Their interaction was particularly well written.
Another difficult thing to answer. So many good scenes! If I have to pick one it would be the scene during Rebecca's birthday party. Landon really begins to shine during the climax of the scene, showing that he's more than just a 'one trick pony.'
I found myself laughing often. Subtle and well placed references to modern real-world pop culture not only were entertaining when they came up, but helped make the world the author created feel authentic and just as real as ours.
There isn't a specific place for this, but I want to point it out. The narrator did an outstanding job in my opinion. His voice characterizations were varied enough that each character felt unique, and he gave each a personality that made them feel authentic. By the end of the first chapter I was sucked into the story, in large part of how well it was being read.
"Well narrated, enjoyable supernatural action story"
[Just to be above board, I got a free copy from the narrator. I've tried not to let that fact sway my review.]
First off, the story: Balance is a very quick pace supernatural action story. The story starts where many finish: with the death of the main character. Upon dying he finds himself in purgatory before being told of an epic battle between Angels and Demons. Yes, the same one people have been writing about forever. But this is a little different, in that Landon is told there is actually a 3rd party that is in the battle - one who sole purpose is to ensure that neither of the other sides win and that the fight is always kept in balance. Landon is roped into being on this side (to me a rather depressing thing, because there is no way he can ever win. there is no end game for him). As an enemy of both angels and demons he is sent back to earth to keep the world in balance.
I found the characters all interesting and varying. the only one that struck me as too unbelievable was the most normal of them all. Or at least the only major non-paranormal one. The friend, Obi, is a ex-military drill sergeant, crack shot, computer hacker, paranormal specialist. There can't be many of those in the world. But then maybe there is only one and the fact that Landon found him is some sort of divine gift.
The action was great and (mostly) unrelenting. It did slow down at times for a few deeper conversations and moments. And also for a few "info dump" world building moments. The only one of these that felt really off and forced to me was one of the early ones contained in a letter/instruction book.
The only other annoyance (I'm mostly mentioning things that annoyed, but I really did enjoy the book) was the cliffhanger ending. There was some resolution to the book but not that much. It clearly is set up as part 1 of 3 or something, rather than a self contained book that happens to have a sequel.
Over all 3.5, edging towards a 4. Audible's lack of nuance in scoring makes me give it a 4.
Narrator (and audio production): This was really good. It was clear the narrator put a lot of effort into the narration and the production. Effects were used for monsters voices to give them a stronger sound, each character had a clear and distinguishable voice, and inflection on things like sarcasm or fear or anger were clear.
The only thing of it that I found a little off and jarring was laughter. When characters laughed the narrator did the typical chuckle that narrators do, but also added an additional laugh on top of the narration. Possibly to make the laugh sound more real, but if didn't really work for me.
Overall the annoyance with that was minor, so I would say narration etc is 4 / 5.
"Story was a bit one dimensional...."
I'll say this, his idea of having a 3rd player in the good v evil tale as old as time was great. BUT his characters all seemed very simple. The lead just going along with everything and not having any intense emotion for this massive change to his life/afterlife was crazy. He sort of doesn't have any real emotion through the entire book except in the end which I can't describe for obvious reasons. That being said, I am going to get the second book in the series because I want to see how or IF the author further describes the mythos of purgatory. Also, I don't understand why the author brought in a character ex-marine/hacker when the lead is supposed to be a hacker to begin with. Its like, why?
I don't know if I can actually credit the narrator on this because I think the tech used to modify the angels/demons voices did most of the work. His voice was smooth and soothing to listen to though. A bit lacking in emotion , but I think that was because of the writing and not the narrators fault.
I'm going to give the author another chance to hook me into the story with book two. Hopefully he fleshes out the characters and story more in the 2nd.
Good vs Evil now where have we run across that concept before. Never knowing who is on your side. Not sure what and why you are and encountering all sorts of strange creatures in your journey to discover true facts. Betrayal then saving by the same people. Sent out into a world that is ultimately really strange and then discovering your powers only when you really need them and then successfully using them the next time. This book was filled with these types of twists and turns. the narration was excellent and the fight scenes and especially jumping from 50 stories up and only breaking your back and then healing almost immediately. Wow.
I was given this book in exchange for an unbiased review via audiobook boom. Wonder what the author's have up their sleeves next. I kind of got the impression that no matter who wins good or evil that humanity loses. But then again this is coming from the authors imagination. I know who really wins in the end.
"Demons, Angels & Divine"
A great series by author M.R. Forbes! I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I look forward to listening to the other series. The story captures every emotion and the characters are intriguing. This is a must listen to series!!
Narrator Jeff Hays is by far the best narrator that I've listened to in years. I guess you can call me a fan of his but even though I am, my review is unbiased. He does a fantastic job with distinguishing each characters voice. This young narrator is going places and authors he's worth every dollar! He is a very talented narrator and M.R. Forbes couldn't have chosen a voice to fit his stories any better than Jeff! Overall, a perfect 5 star rating!!!!
"A twist on the Sandman Slim genre"
Classic books like "To Reign In Hell" and "American Gods" have sparked a sub-genre in fantasy books and movies. The usual world of dragons and wizards have been replaced by Heaven and Hell from the Roman Catholic tradition.
Sandman Slim is a sort of great-uncle in this genre. Balance is definitely a cousin. It has it's own intriguing twist; the main character isn't an agent of Heaven or Hell. He fights for the cause of Purgatory. There are some cool ideas here and it's really a shame that they weren't deeply explored. Far too many times, fantasy books don't rise very far above the female or male version of the teenage power fantasy. In this case it goes something like this: one day something catastrophic happens and a normal boy is transformed into the most awesome person on Earth! He gets to dress in leather, all the pretty girls think he's awesome, and he gets to beat up all the bullies and save the whole school!!!, I mean the whole world!!!!
Unfortunately that's the case here. Whenever a cool idea is introduced, a moral dilemma is faced, or the meaning of life is brushed against, it's instantly dropped in favor of another fight scene. This guy can barely take two steps without meeting a delightful girl who thinks he's awesome, or a bad guy who lets him how off how much of a bad ass he's become.
It's a shame too, because what could have been an interesting exploration of good and evil, and our place in the universe never rose above the level of summer popcorn movie.
A fun little read in an interesting environment, but nothing more. After you're done with this, pick up some of those other books I mentioned.
Also, they got a little carried away with the audio effects in the recording studio. Otherwise, the narrator would've gotten a 5 of 5.
"Stuck in the middle..."
The best part of this book is that it takes the mythology of our current spiritual ethos and turns archetypes into relatable characters. In the story it's effortless for me to suspend disbelief about concepts like heaven, hell and purgatory. I feel like the story might be plausible even though I particularly don't really view those concepts as a part of reality, just by the frankness and cadence of the book.
I found the scene of Rebecca's birthday party was the most memorable, with that world of the well-dressed vampire class. The whole book has that charm of "Interview with a Vampire" or "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", and the action is just as riveting.
I have listened to several of Jeff's books now and I find this to be one of his most technically precise performances. I realize this is one of the more challenging pieces for him to read, partially due to all of the different female characters and strange beings and the amount of time he has to focus on portraying them. I like the female character Josette's portrayal the most.
Every day the battle between Good and Evil wages on, but when you look closer you see the real battle is the one fought by those who know it can never stop.
"The Divine Book One"
I started this book without knowing what it was about. It started off interesting and held my interest throughout. I will be getting the next book to continue with the series. Jeff does a really good job with the different characters. I love that.
This book was gifted to me in exchange for an honest and unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBoom!
"Enjoyed this Balance between Good and Evil"
I received this audiobook free for an honest review. I enjoyed this book. The author did a great job of weaving a story that kept my interest. I really enjoyed the narrator as well. The story is a typical good vs. evil. However, there are a number of characters thrown in that should be evil but are maybe good. I'm sure as the story continues, the character's reason for being, including Landon's will come to light. The author did a great job of developing the story and the personalities of the characters. The story has substance and depth. Looking forward to the next one, Book Two.
Good idea, however so many holes in the story leaves you frustrated that he doesnt use his other powers..
worth a listen tho
"So Many Twists and Turns"
A story of discovery, that leads you wanting to listen to the next chapter. Nothing is ever quite what it seems. The good guys aren't all good and the bad guys......... Its one of those books I'll listen to more than once.
The narrator has an engaging tone and pace that keeps you engaged.
Can't wait to listen to the next instalment.
This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBoom dot com.
"He was an average guy until he died - cool!"
Yes. I read the first book and it was great. It was even better getting the second book as an audiobook. I love average boy Landon. I also love the grey that this book suggest. We have the black of evil, the white of good but here we see the grey of purgatory. Really good idea! Great characters too!
I don't want to ruin a really good book by telling you the best bits. I really like the way that Landon befriends members on both sides of the good vs evil conflict and how he collects an eclectic group of friends along the way.
I liked Josette's choices towards the latter end of the novel and the way that they will develop the story further.
They are all brilliant. He breaths life into all the characters. He does men and women in a way that make you feel like they are the correct gender. Landon is obviously the most developed character in terms of the story but as far as the narration is concerned it's amazing for all the characters.
Yes, yes, yes! Really good. I managed it in 3 sittings.
This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBoom dot com.
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