I came across this book by a chance conversation with one of the booksellers at Barnes and Noble. All she had to say was, "It's like Dan Brown, but better." See the issue I had with The Da Vinci Code was the ending. The reveal of who done it was such a let down to me as a reader. "I spent all those hours on the edge of my seat for that?!" was my thought when I got to end. I hate mysteries that leave me feeling like that. So I bit on The Breath of God which I checked out of my local library.
The Breath of God was a better read for me than The Da Vinci Code. Unlike The Da Vinci Code which is based on conspiracy theories, which depending on your bent, may or may not be true, The Breath of God is based on religious doctrine and posed questions I've often asked myself. Why do all the major religions of the world share some of the same basic tenants? How did that happen? Why did that happen? How did history shape religion? Now if you want a humorous answer to these questions, you must really check out Lamb by Christopher Moore. If satire and humor, when applied to religion really aren't your thing, then The Breath of God is right up your alley.
Small doesn't create the gripping cliffhangers at the end of each chapter that Brown does and I was able to read the book in short bursts and walk away without it constantly nagging at me like The Da Vinci Code did. Small, on the whole, does craft a stronger story that provides you with the major building blocks to see how the religions in the world may be connected. You can see how the pieces of the plot and the Issa story fit together. I like being given breadcrumbs that lead me to the end of the story.
A few of Small's characters are a bit on the extreme side and at times, maybe a little over the top. After Grant, the main character in the story, achieves his life long goal, the story isn't quite wrapped up. I'm not a reader who necessarily needs all the plot lines wrapped up into a neat little bow. As a result, the last 30 or so pages after Grant returns to the States seemed a little extraneous. I wasn't necessarily concerned with how his discovery was going be received by the Christian Fundamentalists. However, I'm sure I'm in the minority and Small does a over the top, all the "bad" guys have to pay ending which was disappointing. I was left wondering why the book couldn't just have ended after Chapter 55.
Overall, I liked The Breath of God by Jeffery Small. There was an academic approach to religion that I appreciated. And while some of the characters were over the top, the book had a satisfying conclusion that didn't leave me mystified (or pissed) at the end.