Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Adam & Eve by Sena Jeter Naslund
Synopsis From Back Cover:
By decoding light from space, Lucy Bergmann's astrophysicist husband discovers the existence of extraterrestrial life; their friend, anthropologist Pierre Saad, unearths from the sands of Egypt an ancient alternative version of the book of Genesis. To religious fanatics, these discoveries have the power to rock the foundations of their faith. Entrusted to deliver this revolutionary news to both the scientific and religious communities, Lucy becomes the target of Perpetuity, a secret society. When her small plane crashes, Lucy finds herself in a place called Eden with an American soldier named Adam, whose quest for both spiritual and carnal knowledge has driven him to madness.
I have started, deleted, started again, and deleted again more times than I think you really want to know or I am willing to admit to. I have even wasted an hour on Facebook, avoiding this review. For some reason I'm having a damned hard time reviewing this one and after about 2 hours of this, I think I know the answer why. I loved the first 2/3 of the book, the last 1/3, I could really do without. My problem is that last 1/3 is tainting my whole view of the book.
I loved the way the characters are introduced, especially Lucy and Adam. Lucy is happily married art therapist, who get to travel the world with her husband as he attends conferences. After his tragic death, by a falling piano, her world is turned upside down for a bit. A year later, when she is attending a conference in Cairo, being held to honor her deceased husband, she is still consumed by grief. When her plane crashes into a sea, she climbs out, shedding her burning clothing as she goes. By the time she reaches land, she is naked, hurt and searching for the naked man she saw as her plane was going down.
We first meet Adam after he has been abandoned by his captors who have stripped, raped, and beaten him repeatedly. He is mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically broken. Because of the setting he wakes up in, he thinks he is the Adam of the Bible and has been personally created by the hand of God. He has decided living in a religious haze is better than dealing with the truth. It doesn't help that he was already traumatized by the war itself. Once Lucy joins him, he thinks God has finally sent him his Eve.
When these two characters come together I loved it. Their interactions are fascinating to read and their story is told in a wonderfully quirky way that I find compelling. Even when another American soldier joins them in Eden, I love the way all three of them work together. There is a wonderfully drawn out examination of the themes behind the original Adam & Eve, but it's not done in a literal manner. Everything is done in metaphor and comparison, and all of it in such a subtle manner that you could just choose to ignore it all and enjoy the story for itself.
It's when Lucy and Adam are taken out of that setting that I started to not appreciate what it was I was reading. Out of that context, I found the religious explorations to be a little too heavy handed and not all that interesting. There was no longer a smoothness about the story that I had been enjoying and the themes felt a little too forced at times and a bit boring on top of it. I don't think it helped that the bad guys were one dimensional and took away from the story. I would have either liked a bigger, meaner villain or no villains at all.
If I was forced to give an answer to the question of whether or not I liked the overall story, I would have to say yes. But it would be a hesitant yes, that could just as easily been a no.
I would like to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read/review this book. Please visit the tour page to read other opinions on this one.