Rated of 5
by William Y. (Lynchburg, VA) Adam and Eve, a novel by Sena Jeter Naslund
"Audacious" might well serve as a descriptive word for Sena Jeter Naslund's latest novel, "Adam and Eve". Author of 1999's celebrated "Ahab's Wife", Naslund goes far afield in this effort, setting it in the near future, a time of conflict between followers of science and believers in biblical inerrancy. As the title suggests, the tale provides a challenging contemporary spin on Genesis, with Adam and Eve (now called Lucy Bergmann--a play on "Lucy" of archaeological fame) dwelling in an Eden somewhere between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Rich prose and several excellent set pieces make the book a page-turner, and the theological and political implications are cause for reflection. It may be difficult for some readers to suspend disbelief, but book clubs will find much to discuss about both the characters and what they represent in today's world of religious rivalry and discord.
[Editor's note: Biblical inerrancy is the doctrinal position that the Bible is considered accurate and totally free of error.]
Rated of 5
by Soosi D. (Shelton, Washington) Adam and Eve by Sena Jeter Naslund
Adam and Eve is an industrious literary effort. Set in 2019, it is filled with a myriad of contrasting images, concepts, and plot lines. I found myself reading this book with a yellow marker in one hand and a pen in the other. I was compelled to underline sentences I wanted to re-read or think about and places that I wanted to comment on, right in the text! I was struck by the repetition of images/symbols, repeating themes of contrasting ideologies ( varying Creation stories, science versus art, literal versus figurative). I am eager to discuss this book with others, chapter by chapter, to get the most from it. I was reminded of Lessing’s "The Cleft" and Yann Martel's "Life of Pi"; there were times I was unsure whether it was a fantasy or not.
There is a desire to search for deeper meaning in images such as the falling black piano and the succubus in Eden. The story creates healthy opportunity for comparisons of the Creation story across the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths. Pacing is erratic. At times the novel moves along like a good Dan Brown mystery, at other times it slogs along, with asides about intersecting characters including a Bedouin Sufi, and a nameless Texan Fundamentalist businessman.
This will be an excellent book club choice for those who enjoy analyzing content and meaning and having conversations of differing perspectives.
"Adam and Eve" is all about change, context and renewal.
Rated of 5
by Pam S. (Wellesley, MA) Interesting concept - disappointing execution
Although I had high hopes of an unusual and interesting story that re-imagined the story of Adam and Eve and dealt with issues of Biblical literalism and scientific knowledge, I was disappointed with Sena Jeter Naslund’s new novel Adam and Eve. The story just didn't make sense and the characters were wooden and unconvincing, almost caricatures of the philosophical positions they represented. It felt a lot like a mash-up of sci-fi tale, political thriller, romantic idyll and lessons in ancient art and biblical discovery, with none of the threads developed enough to be credible. There are moments of descriptive beauty, especially in the long middle section in a modern-day Eden, but all in all the story line was just too far-fetched and the characters unengaging.
Rated of 5
by Lauran L. (Orange, CA) Adam & Eve
I read this because the story sounded intriguing and I am also a fan of the author. It started off very interesting - wow, someone is killed by a falling piano and there's life other than on Earth - you want to know more about that. And Lucy and Thom were interesting characters. But it started to drag for me about halfway through the Garden of Eden section and on to the end.
I think the book was about presenting a case to the reader that there are alternative ways of looking at our creation and that this is okay. But it was unclear to me what motivated the characters (except for Pierre) and therefore whether or not they achieved their goals at the end. The plot devices of extraterrestrial life, the codex and the Garden of Eden didn't' work for me because they didn't feel fully developed and interrelated. And in the last 30 pages where there was the 'chase' scene there was no suspense.
I think I know what the book is about because the author told me in the last few chapters and not because the story told me.
Rated of 5
by Lea Ann M. (Seattle, WA) Adam and Eve by Sara Jeter Naslund
I chose to review this book because I have read and enjoyed all of Ms. Naslund's previous books. I shall give her high marks for launching out into a new venue for her, but, frankly, I don't believe it works well.
There are parts of the book which defy my ability to believe the unbelievable. Too many coincidences, starting with the death by falling piano of Eve's (aka Lucy) husband. Follow this up with the mysterious crash of a plane piloted by Lucy into an area that is populated by most of the Earth's plants and animals in a small area likened to Eden. Here Lucy rescues Adam and my disbelief could no longer be suspended.
Ms. Naslund has some lyrical writing within the book. I was especially caught up with samples such as, "While his nostrils constricted to stem the flow of fetid air, his jaw opened, and the air entered the little cave of his mouth and wiped itself on the plushy carpet of his tongue. From sentences such as that we are too often then subjected to long pages which read more like text books.
Readers who are interested in Biblical studies, plots to reveal or suppress new finds about Bible history and the possibility of life in outer space and in fantasy may find this book of interest. I was disappointed in the book.
Meanwhile, Ms. Naslund continues to be a sought after author, a favorite as it were. However, I feel she missed the mark with this volume and look forward to a better display of her talents in her next effort.
Rated of 5
by Kristina K. (Glendale, CA) Adam and Eve
This novel is at times poetic, profound, ironic, while also placing a bit of a strain on the suspension of disbelief. Like other readers, I found the entire narrative thread difficult to follow...more of a loose weave than a thread, and yet I do enjoy the blending of the contemporary world with the creation myth, with references to evolutionary ancestors (Lucy), and with allusions to other religions and ancient texts. These kinds of juxtapositions offer myriad opportunities for rich discussions.
I think this book may deserve more than one reading.
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