Book: Fuse by Julianna Baggott

Click to see Fuse by Julianna Baggott on Amazon!
Click to see Fuse
on Amazon!

Fuse is the second installment in Julianna Baggott’s Pure trilogy, and like any good second installment, the world expands, the stakes get higher and the characters sink to depths that make us fearful for them. In my review of Pure, I highlighted the religious overtones of the book. In Fuse, Baggott continues to weave reflections on faith, fundamentalism and our future into a story where these elements are an organic part of the world.

Fuse isn’t a morality tale about the dangers of religion, but we’d do well to heed its warnings.

As Bradwell comes to understand the Fundamentalist character of Willux’ worldview, he reflects on the nature of our world – his ‘Before’.

During the Before, the box we stored God in kept getting smaller and smaller. On the one hand there was science. And with all that science, Willux thought he could play God. And then on the other hand, there was the church invented for their own purposes— where the rich knew they were blessed because they were rich. Once one person’s better than another, it lets people get away with all kinds of cruelty.

Bradwell’s words ring true as a prophetic description of the Modern world.

As Science pushes God further and further out of the public discourse, humans can more easily play God.Continue reading

Book: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Click here to get this on Amazon!
Click here to get Pure on Amazon!

I have always been fascinated by post-Apocalyptic worlds. Whether films, TV or books, I love tales of humanity in a world where we lost it all. But missing from most post-apocalyptic worlds is something basic to human nature: religion. Herschel waxes religious occasionally on The Walking Dead, and Rick prayed once, but other than that, religion plays a minuscule role in these worlds if it’s present at all.

Which always struck me as odd, given how central religion has been to human existence. Where are my apocalyptic stories featuring God? (And I’m not talking about The Road, which is amazing and all about God but where religion still doesn’t feature prominently in the story).

Enter Pure by Julianna Baggott, hailed by many as “the next Hunger Games”.Continue reading

Top 10 Books of 2012

Here are my picks for the best books of 2012, in no particular order.
The titles link to my reviews (if available) or to Amazon :

Selling Water by the River

Selling Water by the River

by Shane Hipps

I haven’t gotten to post my review of this book yet, but it was one of the best surprises of 2012. Shane Hipps is one of the most important, underrated voices in Evangelical Christianity. Selling Water by the River is a fresh look into the heart of Christianity.

It’s a short, fast read, but Shane packs each chapter with thick, insightful metaphors that unlock some rich, complex ideas.

Monkeys with Typewriters

by Scarlett Thomas

I’m only 50 pages into this book, and those 50 pages already made my Top 10. Yes, this book is that good. Scarlett Thomas is one of the most capable fiction authors I’ve ever read (if you’ve never taken a crack at The End of Mr. Y, just trust me: it’s a must read). Apparently, she’s also an English professor. Monkeys with Typewriters is the textbook on creative writing she’s always wanted and finally had to write herself.

If you love writing or even just the art of storytelling, get this book now.Continue reading

Book: The Sword of Six Worlds by Matt Mikalatos

Click to check out Sword of Six Worlds on Amazon!
Click to check out Sword of Six Worlds on Amazon!

The first time I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I was probably 10 years old. I just remember enjoying the story, marveling at the magical world of Narnia. As I grew up, I heard that The Chronicles of Narnia were spiritual allegories, and as I reflected on the plot of the book, I could see what they meant. I didn’t actually reread that first book until college, and the story’s blatant theology caught me off guard (J. R. R. Tolkien famously called the books ‘crude allegory’).

In retrospect, I’m glad college-me was more spiritually perceptive than 10-year-old me.

I would’ve loved the chance to read Narnia with my parents, for them to help me see the biblical themes. I can imagine that such a book would be a useful tool for parents today looking for a fun book to help their kids talk about Jesus and theology at their level.

Enter Matt Mikalatos’ new book The Sword of Six Worlds: a tremendous book and wonderful resource.Continue reading

Book Review: Empire (Orson Scott Card)

Don't let the bad photoshop fool you... this is a wicked-awesome book!Anyone who reads Orson Scott Card – the author of the insanely awesome Ender saga – knows that he’s one of the best Science Fiction writers around.  His stories reflect what is best and worst about our natures, and use gripping, thrilling, so-awesome-you-have-to-read-it-twice narrative to do it.

Empire is no different.  It’s the story of the Second American Civil War.

The book feels as though it’s set tomorrow.  Foreign terrorists assassinate the President and Vice President, and shortly thereafter a group of either right- or left-wing radicals take over New York City, declaring themselves to be the liberators of America.  States quickly move to choose sides and the fighting begins.

What makes Card’s tale so compelling is the frightening plausibility of it.  Card’s America is as sharply divided along party lines as is ours, so this war is not fought across the Mason-Dixon line; instead, it’s red-state/blue-state, urban/rural.  The divisive, divided rhetoric could be taken from any number of email forwards so lovingly sent around – not to mention FOX News or CNN.

Perhaps most intriguing is Card’s comparison of America to Rome – not the Empire, but the Republic.

Card argues – through one of his more interesting characters – that America is not an Empire because were we to disappear as a nation today, our culture would not endure in the world the way Rome’s did.  Rather, America exists as did Rome at the end of her republic phase: broken by infighting and divisions, unable to stand strong on the world stage.

Only when Rome was united under a strong leader was she able to become probably the greatest empire the world had ever known.  And so Card begs us to ask, Will we follow those currents of history, ride along in Rome’s wake?

One of the more inflamatory passages in the book sums his probing well: “We don’t want individual liberty because we don’t want individual responsibility.  We want somebody else to take care of us.  If we had a dictator who did a better job of it than our presenty system, then as long as he pretended to respect Congress, we’d lick his hands like a dog.

Bottom line: A great, quick thriller that will make you rethink your politics.

Bonus!  Card just released a sequel called Hidden Empire.  I can’t wait to read it!