The Pit is one of the most ambitious debut novels I’ve read, second only to Pete Kahle’s “The Specimen.” Spanning centuries (at least within the lives of certain characters), it touches upon diverse races, religions, creeds, and belief systems, and oh yeah – if you’re the type to get offended by something you might not “believe” … this book probably isn’t for you.
This is also a book I found highly flawed but yet incredibly interesting. Disclaimer: There is a LOT of unnecessary exposition in this novel. Backgrounds of character upon character that would make even Stephen King go, “Really? We needed this?” In essence it takes what should have been the first act of a single novel and forces it into a sub-par book because of the padding. Momentum is a struggle as you’re bouncing between far too many back-stories, and we lose the ability to learn about these characters from their actions because we’re spending most of our time in the past.
Taking all of that into consideration however, there is also a truly unique vision and world created here, with its own ideology completely different from what most people would imagine as “heaven” and “hell.” Barnes can definitely write, and I was impressed with how easily she transitioned from the POV’s of a war-criminal nazi to a Muslim to a Roman centurion. You can tell a lot of time, tears, and love went into the creation of this story, and Kudos to Barnes for tackling something so big and audacious.
Despite its flaws with pacing and an all-you-can-eat buffet of exposition, I’m glad I picked this one up. Quite different from anything I’ve before read, it’ll be interesting to see where her choices go for the next installment. An ambitious 3.5 out of 5 stars.