REVIEW: I for one, was not expecting at all what I read in 3 Gates of the Dead. Usually with first time authors, you tend not to expect so much in terms of a complex story or writing style. At least, in my amateur experience as a professional reader, I've never come across something so well written in a debut book. However, Jonathan Ryan sets out to prove me wrong, and I'm sure countless others, by writing a superb tale of the supernatural. Aidan Schaeffer is a doubting, but unconsciously faithful pastor who we find at one of the worst times of his life. Automatically, Aidan is a character that almost any reader can identify with because of the questions he asks about life, religious or not. After going through a lot prior to the story, our main character finds out that there is much more that he has yet to learn.
What I found so unbelievable about this book was how well the main character was written. Constantly throughout the book, I found myself relating to Aidan and understanding his inner turmoil with God. This book focuses a lot on Aidan's relationship with a higher power, obviously because he is a pastor. But he's a pastor with questions, to which the answers only cloud his beliefs further. I feel that no matter what side of the religious debate you're on, there is something endearing about a person struggling to figure out where they stand on life. Not only that, but to continuously push themselves into finding their true self a midst a handful of issues that would cause most to fold under pressure. Even though we find our protagonist at a crossroads in his life, as soon as the book starts, Mr. Ryan immediately hooks the reader into caring about Aidan and his troubles. It also was neat to read a book that takes place not that far from home for me, and has a lot of material that I can relate to personally (like the argument over whether Ohio State is a good football team or not).
There are obviously a lot of reasons I would like this book. The horror elements like ghosts, the supernatural, and the occult. Also, the mystery elements like shocking twists and a reason for our character to further torment, and examine his outlook on the world. But the reason I could not put this book down was because of Ryan's excellent writing. I was astounded that this was his first book, and as I was reading I kept asking myself "how is this possible?" Sure you could say that maybe I wasn't expecting much so I was more easily impressed, but I think I could easily compare this to some of the greater works of horror fiction. The characterization is on point from Aidan to Mike, his troubled partner at the church, to Jennifer, the girl he finds himself swooning over, and right down to the dead people at the bottom of the credits. 3 Gates of the Dead is damn near as perfect of a first book that one could read, and certainly leaves me wanting more.
I would hope to see that if this book is turned into a movie, which I read is a possibility, that the filmmakers take good care of this subject material. It's such an amazing story on the page, that it would be a shame to see it go to waste on B-movie talent and more than likely focus on the supernatural, and not the human aspects of it. It's a perfect story about the main character Aidan, and his journey through reality and the supernatural, in finding his true beliefs and opinions of the world and greater. This book is so much more than a ghost story, and it's so much more than a murder mystery. This is a grade A novel of suspense, intrigue, and self-discovery that will leave any reader, no matter what preference, asking for book two as soon as possible. Bravo Jonathan Ryan, you have gained a loyal fan and I'm sure countless others, who are eagerly awaiting more of your wonderfully crafted tales. As a human constantly learning for himself what it means to be on this planet, I can certainly appreciate a fictional story that you almost believe is real until you hit the last page... or is it?
RATED : ( PG-13 )
WRITING : ( 9 / 10 )
STORY : ( 10 / 10 )
COVER : ( 8 / 10 )
AWESOME : ( 10 / 10 )
FINAL RATING : ( 9 / 10 )