2 for 1: A book review and a book rant

You get a two-fer here! I am going to sum up The Year of Living Biblically very quickly and then launch into a spoiler-filled rant about State of Wonder. Just fair warning folks…
The Year of Living Biblically is about my quest to live the ultimate biblical life. To follow every single rule in the Bible – as literally as possible (from the author’s website)

I kind of think that everyone should read this book, but especially if you are a Christian. It is funny, touching, educational, and (for me at least) convicting. This man - with no faith to speak of  - launches into a year-long commitment to follow the Bible verbatim. It was amazing to read. I love his humor and really enjoyed taking the journey with AJ as he lived out his year. It also made me look at myself as a Christian and all of the Biblical rules I break every day (i.e. Love you neighbor as yourself – I don’t even know my neighbor’s names) and how I should work harder to really live out my faith. It was great – go read it!
Sometimes being on the vanguard of scientific progress thrusts you into the teeth of danger. For Minnesota pharmaceutical researcher Dr. Marina Singh, that means being sent into the remotest region of the Amazon jungle to track down her former mentor. Finding Dr. Annick Swenson promises to be perilous: The last scientist assigned to find her has disappeared too. What follows is the most ambitious novel yet by Bel Canto author Ann Patchett as its adventure story opens into a penetrating study of personalities, loyalties, and ethics. (From GoodReads)

WARNING: LOTS OF SPOILERS. If you have ANY interest in reading this book (which I wouldn’t highly recommend) don’t read my review. I am going to give away the ending! (Mostly because that is the part I HATED)
Ok- this book starts out incredibly promising. A pharmaceutical researcher working in the Amazon jungle is being checked up on by her company. The man they send to check on her, Anders, dies. So then they send Marina, a long-time work-partner of Anders, to find out what exactly happened to him. The book follows Marina’s journey to Brazil and then into the depth of the Amazon. It explores the strange dynamic between Marina and her former mentor (Swenson – the original researcher) as Marina looks for answers about what happened to Anders.
Swenson is researching a fertility drug by studying an indigenous tribe who are able to bear children well into their 70s. Swenson decides to test the drug on herself and inseminates herself at age 73, in the middle of the Amazon jungle (obviously one of the ethical issues noted in the above summary). This part of the book was disturbing to me because of the flippancy in the attitude of Swenson regarding her miraculous pregnancy. To her, it is simply a science experiment. It’s a cold, callous attitude and one that upsets me more at this point in my life, when I have close friends and family who would want nothing more than to conceive and birth a healthy child.

My other HUGE issue with this book is the relationship between Marina and Anders. They have worked together for more than 7 years. He is happily married and has three children. She is involved with another older man. Turns out, he wandered off into the jungle in a fever-induced delirium and is actually alive. Marina has to rescue him from a hostile tribe in the jungle and then when they make it back to their camp they sleep together… and I think you know what I mean by sleep… WHY? I felt like it ruined the whole story. Throughout his fever and delirium Anders is writing letters to his wife. He is telling her he dreams of her, he sees her in the jungle, and that it is bearable to have the fevers because he sees her. Then, when Marina rescues him, he tells her that he never imagined it would be her, but always thought it would be Karen (his wife) that would come for him. So WHY? WHY? WHY? Did they have to cross that line? It just left a very bad taste in my mouth and I felt like took away from the rest of the story. It would have been so tragic anyway, but then they did that…. Huge, huge disappointment, in what could have been an excellent book.

Any good (or bad) reads in your book life lately?


Brittney said...

Yay!! I'm glad you liked that one! I was hoping when I saw your title that the rant wasn't about my book. :) You're right about the sins we never notice... I like when he tries to stop "white lies" and tells another couple he has enough friends and doesn't want to hang out with them. haha!

Anyway, excited to hear your thoughts on "Heaven Is For Real." I've heard good things but haven't got my hands on a copy yet!

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