Having just finished the book and read some of the reviews here, I find myself sitting squarely on the fence. On the one hand, I think "The Last Day" is an excellent, suspenseful, well-written and well-researched thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat till the last page. There are moments in it which even border on great literature, especially the passage in which the pope discovers his fatal error. True, some of the characters are a little stereotypical; and the fact that ALL of the news people in the story seem to be upright, sincere and truth-loving does smell a bit fishy. But this did not seriously diminish my enjoyment of the story. Hey, I didn't expect it to be the Brothers Karamasov.
On the other hand I must agree with those who complained about the threadbare quality of the theological thinking presented here. Jeza's message is naif, unoriginal and flawed and would, in real life, hardly keep anyone from switching to another channel. Especially Jeza's "climactic" Good Friday speech embarrassingly reveals that this emperor really has no clothes on.
What disturbs me most, though, is the polarized nature of the readers' reactions as witnessed in these reviews. Most people who disagree with Jeza's syncretistic message seem unable to perceive or concede the book's literary merits, while those who have enjoyed the tale seem too intoxicated to appraise its theological and philosophical shortcomings. Real communication about the book seems unattainable. Maybe that gives us a hint why we're not making any progress with other controversial issues in our society?