The Everything Box got a lot of attention when it first came out, but I’ve only just now gotten to it. I don’t quite understand what all the hype was about. Yes this is an entertaining adventure story with amusing characters, but I didn’t love it. I enjoyed it, but it just wasn’t as awesome as I was hoping. 3.5 stars.
First, it’s so strongly reminiscent of Good Omens (by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman) in terms of characters and plot that it comes off a little unoriginal to me. Coop is the Warlock/Adam character with a tough of Shadow from American Gods. He’s the one everyone expects to be their hero, he’s just out of prison and forced into supernatural who knows what, and he has lady troubles. In Coop’s case, said lady is not dead, although they encounter each other after having broken up badly some time ago. Giselle could use a little more detail, because as she is, all we know about her is from Coop, who naturally doesn’t want to say much other than he got badly hurt by her. You’ve also got the angel who screws up in Qaphsiel, or in Good Omens Aziraphale, although in Aziraphale’s case, it wasn’t exactly a screw up, but he gets stuck on Earth anyways- so same general idea, and the demons Beelzebub and Leviathon who, unlike Crowley, seem to have no purpose in the story other than to randomly show up and cause disasters. Then there’s the cultists of Caleximus and the followers of Abaddon, who have a slight tinge of the Chattering Order of St Beryl.
The basic premise is that Heaven has lost a box containing a Doomsday device, and everyone wants it for their own purposes. Coop is a thief who is voluntold to steal it. Which he does. Repeatedly. This leads to my second annoyance. The overall novel basically repeats the same scenario with minor variations. First he steals it for the wealthy mysterious Mr Babylon, then he is forced to steal it from Mr Babylon by the Department of Peculiar Science. All this of course after he gets busted trying to steal a folder at the beginning of the book which turns up again in a plot twist I appreciated but at the same time rolled my eyes at.
The goofballs and misfits who populate the novel are fun to watch as a group, although some of them get a lot more attention than others. With the two cults, you get a lot more of Caleximus’ followers than those of Abaddon, and they seem to exist to cause trouble to each other intentionally, and everyone else unintentionally, sort of. The feud between the two groups is funny, but then the Caleximus group gets involved in the box and become the bumbling idiots who nearly destroy the world, although since that’s what they seem to want, it all gets a little confusing and irritating.
Nelson and Bayliss are a standard cop pair who don’t really get along but manage to work together until they don’t (and I’m still not totally sure why Bayliss waited so long to do what she does to Nelson in the end); there’s Morty the troublesome pal you can’t help but like (although given all the problems he causes Coop, Coop seems to get over it quickly), there’s Phil, the spectral thief helper who really bugs Coop to work with but that makes them kind of funny together, and in the end, everyone just kind of says, ‘oh well’, and goes back to what they were doing before. I guess what bothers me is the loads of little holes and problems that just add up.
I really did enjoy the story and I will read the recently published sequel, but I still can’t help but be a little bit disappointed. Maybe the follow up will make up for it.