Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Guest Review -- "Wayward Son"

Recently I was given the opportunity to review a book that I received from a giveaway by LibraryThing. (http://www.librarything.com/). Since the book was more to my husband's liking, he is doing a guest review for this book! Take it away, Wesley!

Wayward Son by Tom Pollack, Jim Alves, and John Loftus
Wayward Son is a biblical fiction book based on the “life” of Cain.  The book starts with the introduction of Amanda James, an archaeologist who specializes in papyrus and languages.  She gets a call from someone in her past asking her to travel to Italy to help him with an important dig.  Upon arrival, she eventually finds herself alone, trapped in a chamber full of antiquities, staring at a man frozen in time by volcanic ash.  She notices a strange charm around his neck and reaches for it.  Suddenly, she is no longer in the chamber in Italy.  Instead, she has somehow found herself inside the mind of someone running for his life.  Shortly, she realizes she is witnessing the life of Cain, the first human ever born.
The story continues from there with the untold life of Cain, banished from civilization and forced to wander for the rest of his life.  I say this is the untold story of Cain because the authors have taken some liberty with Scripture.  Many of the important characters of the Bible have their life stories told, and most of them end with their deaths being recorded.  However, Scripture does not mention the death of Cain.  These authors have decided to take that omission and run with it.  The story of Cain in this book takes place over thousands of years.  Cain has supernatural healing abilities and does not age.  So, we get to witness many historical events through the eyes of Cain.
I won’t go into detail about many of the events that take place in this book, as it might give too much away.  Instead, I will talk about the concept and style of the book.  This is not the first book that I have read which is based on the premise that Cain did not die.  Personally, I think this is a stretch.  Just because the Bible does not mention Cain’s death does not mean he didn’t die.  It doesn’t mention lots of people’s deaths.  But, I understand that when trying to write a good story, some liberty must be taken, and I have no problem with that.  The premise of Cain living for thousands years did make for a fascinating backdrop.
However, I did have a bit of a problem with how parts of the story were told.  Throughout Cain’s life, he was there to influence and even alter history.  According to this book, the authors had Cain be responsible for some of history’s greatest moments or accomplishments.  An example would be that he was partly responsible for setting up the first pharaoh in Egypt and for building King Ramses’ temple.  Now, if that had been all that was done in this book, that would still have been a bit annoying, but clever.  But, they didn’t stop there.  They also inserted Cain into several key Biblical moments.  For instance, Cain stowed away on the ark.  Then, when Noah and his family finally got off the ark, Cain snuck away and stole several animals.  I personally don’t like when fiction books alter or add to parts of the Bible.  I really don’t like it when they have Christ speaking things that are not in the Bible, which happens several times in this book.  I just get uncomfortable reading passages like that.
Still, despite the annoyances of adding Cain to some important moments in history (both biblical and otherwise), this was actually a very good story.  Before reading this, I had a certain impression about Cain.  As a Christian, I was taught about Cain murdering his brother and being punished.  That is the end of the story.  This book explores his point of view and how he spends thousands of years trying to come to redemption.  By the end of the story, I was actually feeling sorry for Cain and pulling for him.  I doubt that the authors wanted to change the typical Christian perspective on Cain, but instead wanted to write a good story and draw the reader into a world of “what if”.  Well, they certainly accomplished that, and did it well. 
I will give a warning to everyone that this book is really long. At 505 pages (paperback;  6504 Kindle), it took a while to get through!
I will give Wayward Son … 3.5 bookworms.

Thanks, honey! Look for Wesley's thoughts on other books coming soon! :)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Cascada Productions through LibraryThing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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