Title: The Book of Jer3miah: Premonition
Number of pages: 247
Reviewed by Ivan Wolfe for the Association for Mormon Letters
Full disclosure: I have not seen the web series that this book is based on, so I can’t comment on how faithful this book is to the series (though I plan on watching the series as soon as I can find some spare time, since I enjoyed the book immensely).
I’m actually a little shocked Deseret Book published this. The main character kills someone, with a sword (probably the Sword of Laban from the Book of Mormon, though this is not explicitly stated). While the narrative clearly is modeled on Nephi’s killing of Laban (and thus the sword provides some nice parallels), it’s still a little shocking to read a story where the narrative approves of what would look to any outside observer as murder. Jeremiah has a strong spiritual witness it’s the right thing to do, but I found myself reeling when it happened.
However, if this were a generic action/thriller featuring generic action heroes, I likely wouldn’t have blinked. You expect the action heroes to kill the bad guys because, well, they’re bad guys and deserve it. The creators of The Book of Jer3miah have done is marry an action tale with Mormon theology, which makes for a heady and very compelling brew of suspense and thrills. Orson Scott Card once said the best stories come from mixing two seeming unrelated ideas and making them work. While The Book of Jer3miah is hardly great literature, it is a very well told story. It’s like a Mormon Dan Brown, if Dan Brown bothered to be accurate.
The main story, for those who (like me) haven’t seen the series this book is based on, is about a student at BYU, named Jeremiah, is entrusted with a box by an angelic stranger (one of the Three Nephites or someone else? Read to find out) – and he’s not supposed to let anyone else see it or know about it. His roommate, a descendent of Porter Rockwell, receives a strong spiritual impression to protect Jeremiah at all costs (the story’s parallels/resonances with Joseph Smith, Nephi, and a few other well know Mormon tales are rather obvious, but handled fairly well). A shadowy, evil conspiracy run by very rich people wants the box and Jeremiah, which complicates things. I won’t say much more, but that’s the basic set-up for the plot. The action moves at a nice, brisk pace, and every chapter has at least one new development or twist. Several additional items (e-mails, intercepted and decrypted messages, newspaper clippings, missionary journal entries, etc.) are scattered throughout the book, giving the sense of a larger world and a deeper conspiracy than hinted at in the narrative alone.
I really have no complaints or issues with the book, though I would add one caveat: this book is shot through with Mormonism. I can’t really see a non-Mormon audience for the book, as too many of the references and resonances would go over their heads, and the book assumes the reader is familiar with things like the BYU honor code, the basic geography of Utah, and several Mormon urban legends (in addition to the Bible, Book of Mormon, and church history).
Overall, this books makes for a nice, quick, entertaining read that manages to also deal with some deeper issues of inspiration and listening to the Spirit. Hopefully there’s a sequel coming soon – I really want to find out what will happen to Jeremiah and his crew next.
[Those wondering about the unusual spelling in the title won’t find any explicit answers here. Perhaps it has something to do with the 3 Nephites, but I think that might be too obvious, even for an action thriller.]