Published by Hogarth on October 28 2014
Genres: dystopian, science fiction
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Powell's • Indiebound
I finished this strange book over the weekend and I have been turning it over in my mind ever since. Peter and his wife are hardcore Christians. They put their lives so fully in the hands of God that when Peter is asked to spread the word of God to the indigenous people of Oasis, they are both thrilled with proposition.
It doesn’t take long before everything starts to go to hell.
Peter’s new flock take to Christianity readily and live the quiet and contemplative life that he craves. Bea, on the other hand, is stuck back on Earth as natural disasters and political problems tear society apart.
While I was fascinated by Oasis, its natives, and life the USIC employees make for themselves there and I also have a soft spot of natural disaster, dystopian, holy-shit-everything-is-falling-apart novels; many parts where choppy and anti-climatic and the ending fell flat.
I am glad that I read it and I enjoyed large parts of it, it was not quite the novel that I expected. But then I was expecting The Sparrow, so my disappointment is self inflicted.
It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter’s teachings—his Bible is their “book of strange new things.” But Peter is rattled when Bea’s letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.
Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us.