To summarize the plot of Mark Sibley’s MONGOL MOON in just a few sentences is an ambitious undertaking. The same can be said for the book itself. At the simplest, it’s about China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran teaming up to start World War III and the lives of those affected. On paper, it’s not a bad premise. For the reader, however, it’s a slow-moving muddle with occasional instances of brilliance.
The storyline of MONGOL MOON spans the globe and encompasses a massive cast of characters. Moreover, things get off to a slow start. In particular, the first third of the book is a test of readers’ patience, as the events take their time unfolding and bounce from one situation to another before the action starts to heat up. At times, the story feels on the verge of collapsing under its own weight from carrying so many different plot lines. Still, Sibley manages to prop it up and hold it all together, gradually hooking readers’ interest by bringing stories together, one puzzle piece at a time.
This leads to perhaps the biggest obstacle to making MONGOL MOON a really great book. Sibley tends to fall into the trap of “bigger is better.” Characters spring up by the dozen at such a dizzying pace the audience’s heads will spin just trying to keep track of who’s who. Some characters simply drop in and out, only staying around for more a chapter or two. Furthermore, some tighter proofreading is warranted, as the book is crammed with incomplete sentences, misused words and punctuation errors that give it an unpolished feel. And unless there’s a sequel planned, the ending is rather abrupt, with little offered in the way of hope or resolution.
For readers willing to wade through the bog, there are some well-done bits and pieces. Characters like U.S. government worker Gale Washington and his family are well-fleshed out personalities and lend the book a tangible humanness. Even Iranian solder, Javad, who commits some truly terrible atrocities throughout the story, is not altogether without sympathy. The book is also rich in military descriptions, as Sibley has weaponry and military terminology down to the minutest detail.
MONGOL MOON is a rewarding experience for readers willing to stick it out, despite a slow-moving plot and mammoth cast of characters.
~Heather McNamara for IndieReader