It’s been quite some time since I’ve found a novel that I was able to connect with in such a meaningful way. The characters are believable and well rounded, and I cared a great deal about what happened to them.
Thematically, the book is centered around the reconciliation of rationalism and faith. While that tension will likely remain for centuries, the protagonist, David Dremmer, manages to expose Nihilism as an unsystematic philosophy based less on reason than emotion. Remarkably, this is achieved without the pitfalls of argument or philosophical muscle flexing.
Instead, the young protagonist lives through the despair arising from Nihilism, identifies its source, rejects it, and discovers a purpose that has seemingly been waiting for him all along. Though I’m not prepared to take the same leap the protagonist takes, I am at least hopeful that such a leap might be rewarded.
The story unfolds through alternating points of view, each allocated to a separate section. Though these POV section changes are frequent, they are also smooth and unambiguous, and the insights offered by the alternate characters’ perspectives are significant.
The style is seductive and moving and is, for me, the most endearing feature of this beautiful book. Images are used in profound and powerful ways. Some are traditional, a few are biblical, but all are effective and skillfully handled. Several remain with me now, days after finishing the book, and I find myself thumbing through the pages and reading the passages again, savoring their power.
Though some areas of conflict are resolved at the end of the book, a few rather significant ones are not. I was at first disappointed by this, but since this is “Book One,” I have to assume the remaining conflicts will be resolved in whatever is to follow.
I will wait though not patiently.