Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Adam & Eve - Sena Jeter Naslund
Title: Adam & Eve
Author: Sena Jeter Nasuland
Genre: Fiction (Literary? / Speculative)
Love/Hate?: Deep, deep loathing.
Did I finish?: Yes, but only because I knew I had to review it.
One-sentence summary: Widow Lucy hides secret Biblical document from evil Abrahamic fundamentalists, meets mentally ill man, saves document, man, self. World?
Why did I get this book?: I'd heard lots of great things about Naslund after Ahab's Wife, which was on my TBR. (Until this book. Now no more Naslund, ever.)
Do you like the cover?: Eh, it's okay.
First line from book: A nude couple is standing in the shade of a small, leafy tree.
Did... this book remind me of Dan Brown, Kate Mosse, and Paulo Coelho?: Yes, in a bad way.
Did... I talk about this book non-stop for the last two days?: Yes, so I suppose in that sense, it was a good book. I just talked smack about it, though.
Did... I actually groan aloud?: Yes, once, near the end, when the improbability got a little too much for me.
Review: I didn't like this book -- but I should have. It has all the elements I typically enjoy: conspiracy, physics and space, theology, current events, lyrical language, sex -- and yet, Naslund managed to take all those fun elements and warp them into big, hollow caricatures. No one -- not even our heroine Lucy -- was developed; and yet, I don't think this was supposed to be a plot-driven novel (even though this book has plot in spades). I think we're supposed to be caught up and moved by the various, damaged characters, but not a one was particularly engaging or interesting.
Somewhere I saw a reference to Naslund as being a bit Virginia Woolf-ish, and I can see that in this book. However, there's a big difference between attempting Woolfian prose and actually executing it, and sadly, Naslund is no Woolf. Disjointed ruminations stuck between scenes doesn't a Mrs. Dalloway make.
I'm hesitant to get into the specific problems I had as I don't want to spoil anyone the numerous bizarre plot twists. Needless to say, I found her pacing and plotting problematic. There's an artificial sense f urgency due to the cabal of religious fundamentalists chasing after Lucy -- a particular sticking point for me, as I found Naslund's exoticization of Middle Easterners rather offensive and embarrassing. There's an unremarkable retelling of the Genesis story that was unimaginative and predictable. The book's opening borders on cartoonish. I'm unsure why Naslund set the book in the future -- 2017 through 2021 -- as much of the world she describes -- right down to the conflict in Iraq -- sounds contemporary.