The Acolyte

The Acolyte - Nick Cutter Reseña en español en el blog: Click Aquí

3.75 (?) stars actually: The Troop and The Deep were some of the most disturbing books I've read lately, so I was really looking forward to read Nick Cutter's next book. This is not a horror novel, even though it has several gory and sick moments, it felt more like a crime or thriller.

The story takes place in a future society governed by catholic fanatics: everyone who commits a crime against religion is hunted down, several books are banned (and most has been burned), the practice of science is forbidden and people from other religions are forced to live in ghettos.
The protagonist of this book is Jonah Murtagh. He work as an Acolyte, some sort of elite police force that chase down "heathens" and investigate others crimes against religion; the story begins when Murtagh start investigating a series of suicide bombings across the city of New Bethlehem.

This was a very entertaining book and an extremely fast read, the kindle edition has only 250 or so pages and the chapters are very short so I kept reading like a madman wanting to know what was going to happen next.

The setting was another strong point. Cutter describes a very dark and sinister society governed by a mad religious zealot called The Prophet and we really don't know how the church took over since every source of information must be approved by the government, we can only guess what happened: some of the characters remember how life was before the Republic, this gives us the hint that the new society is still in development and the church doesn't have absolute control. I found this uncertainty very interesting because it reflects the ignorance and confusion that our main character suffers.

So why didn't I rate this book higher? because it was predictable, some of the plot twist didn't surprise me and Murtagh wasn't an appealing character. The short chapters make this a fast read but it also made the story sort of messed and disconnected, the way how Murtagh meets some of the other characters wasn't convincing and felt rushed.

All in all, I think it was an entertaining story and this society created by Cutter was great. I congratulate him for trying to write something different from horror (even though I enjoyed The troop and The Deep more), this book is disturbing in a different way: it shows a society where all hope is lost and the only true word comes from The Prophet, it's a good critic about how many people uses religion for their own benefit.

Also I warn that this is not a book for everyone. Even though it's a crime or thriller novel, it has a lot (and I insist A LOT) of gore, disturbing scenes and profanity, so don't read it if you're easily impressed by violence.

"The question becomes: how to make an entire species self-destruct? What is the most effective system of annihilation? Religion. It's a tool, and any tool has right and wrong use (...) Fear, obedience, sacrifice, fanatic loyalty: these are fruits religion cultivates in a nurturing hand. And the greatest part is that the nurturer doesn't need to promise anything tangible: the reward is only delivered in death. It all rest in the bones of belief. And those bones are unbreakable."