Before writing Majestic Descending, Mitchell Graham wrote a trilogy in the fantasy genre called The Fifth Ring. Reviewers of Graham's The Fifth Ring ranged from those who loved them and thought they were amazing, to those who didn't like them and thought they were clichéd.
One reviewer said, "Terrible, tired and clichéd…..large portions of this book are lifted out of other fantasy books." Another reviewer said, "It reminded me too much of the 'Lord of the Rings'. I half expected Gandalf to show up and say, 'Frodo, you must destroy that ring!'"
After reading Majestic Descending, I feel about it kind of like these two reviewers did about The Fifth Ring. The story about Katherine Adam's past where she was kidnapped and tortured by a madman who had collected other girls and kept them all drugged and locked in separate cells in the basement, is almost like a summary of James Patterson's Kiss the Girls, except that the madman burned himself, the house, and all the other girls with it. Katherine Adams was the only one who escaped.
Cut to twenty-five years in the future, Katherine Adams is on a cruise ship that is bombed by Muslim terrorists. Firstly, has anyone watched the movie Poseidon? Secondly, do all terrorists have to be Muslim?
Granted, the scenes are not exactly like those from Poseidon, and the terrorists didn't bomb the cruise ship just for the sake of terrorizing Americans. They were there to kill a man who had successfully researched a way to clone stem cells, and just decided to kill nine hundred other people at the same time by bombing the ship to cover up the murder.
Yet they didn't bother covering up the sabotage of the smoke alarm sprinklers or the fire hoses. Call me crazy, but I honestly think a murder investigation for a single dead body would be much easier to evade than a terrorist investigation for a bomb on a cruise that killed nine hundred people.
Almost everything that happened in the book was just really convenient or highly unrealistic. Katherine just happened to have a license for carrying a gun near the end of the book? Her teenaged children aren't even concerned about her when they hear about the cruise ship bombing, and instead ask her to have fun in Italy and not to bother coming home so soon? Her sixteen-year-old son giving her an enthusiastic hug when she does go home? Since when do teenaged boys hug their mothers so enthusiastically? That sounds more like something a younger child would do, and anyway, he wasn't worried about her either and that's why it's really not realistic the way Graham described that scene. You'd really have to read it to see what I mean.
One of the most unrealistic things of all, Katherine's best friend just happened to… Oh wait, that would be giving away spoilers. Actually, there are so many details about the book which bothered me, but I can't tell them all without giving away too many spoilers. So if you're interested in finding out how not to write a suspense novel, I suggest you read Majestic Descending for yourself. It's not really all that bad, despite all the clichés. You’d enjoy a good laugh, at the very least.