Adam & Eve: A Novel Hardcover – Sep 20 2010
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“Exceptional...A richly detailed portrait of an opulent, turbulent time, revealing the Queen’s journey from frivolity to responsibility, and from palace to prison cell to be one of striking beauty and terrible loss. 4 stars.” (People)
“This is a wonderful, wonderful novel ...[Naslund] has blown a deep breath of life into Four Spirits.” (Detroit Free Press)
“Filled with the fear Naslund witnessed, the characters ...come to life ....Naslund succeeds splendidly in making history a page-turner.” (USA Weekend)
“This is a brave and multifaceted book, propelled by a mission, and ...it is a page-turner.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
“Scrupulously researched and vividly presented…it’s an irresistible story, and Naslund handles its big moments…with impressive assurance. Naslund has done her homework, and imagined her complex, bewitching protagonist in persuasive depth and detail. The result is an exemplary historical novel. ” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“A wealth of period details...the queen faces imprisonment and beheading with both charm and a new dignity, even the most cynical reader will wish for a last-minute pardon.” (Christian Science Monitor)
“Naslund’s insight and craftsmanship ...capture the complexities and cultural nuances of the times.” (San Diego Union-Tribune)
“An intense treat, powerfully written, Ahab’s Wife is one of the best contemporary novels I have read in years. (Louise Erdrich on Ahab's Wife)
“Surprisingly affecting. ” (New York Times Book Review)
“[Naslund] shed[s] light on what the creation myth (and religious fanaticism) reveals about the human condition: that however formative our beginnings may be, they can always give way to the drama of rebirth. In Adam & Eve, Naslund asks, Which is really more important to us?” (Elle)
“[A] charming parable...but along the way, Naslund weaves into the story an effective condemnation of dogma and religious zealotry as well as an understated plea for open-mindedness and tolerance.” (Boston Globe)
“Adam & Eve has the potential of making not simply a splash, but a small tsunami. The novel is nothing less than a futuristic gloss on all creation, pitting religious fundamentalism against the discovery of extraterrestrial life” (Louisville Courier Journal)
“To describe the elements of this ambitious novel is to sound unhinged, but Naslund pulls it off. This thriller is rich in brilliant discourses on religion, fanaticism, the meaning of ancient cave art, the speculative future, and love.” (Library Journal on ADAM & EVE)
“[Adam & Eve] transcends the boundaries of the genres it flirts with. In the hands of a lesser storyteller, it might degrade into a flimsy pastiche, but Sena Jeter Naslund’s lyrical, exact prose kept me engaged.” (Bookreporter.com)
“A really satisfying surprise ending.” (Alabama Writers' Forum on ADAM & EVE)
“Adam & Eve is a book about passions—a carefully crafted mosaic of devoted love, gut-wrenching betrayal, religious extremism, scientific inquiry, artistic expression…a wonderfully imaginative romp.” (Huntsville Times on ADAM & EVE)
“Provocative” (New York Times on ADAM & EVE)
From the 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.
Set against the searing debate between evolutionists and creationists, Adam & Eve is a thriller, a romance, an adventure, an idyll—a tour de force from Sena Jeter Naslund, one of the most imaginative and inspired writers of our time.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Naslund is usually so great with he characters, but I just felt confused about them here. The main character, Lucy is thrust into intrigue and mystery when she meets Pierre Saad, a French-Egyptian, who entrusts her to deliver a codex with explosive new writings about Genesis back to France. Her plane crashes and she finds herself a new Eve to Adam, a mentally damaged US soldier who has been gang raped and beaten by Iraqi thugs and dumped for dead. Weirdness ensues.
I really was very intrigued by the story line spelled out on the back of the book, but Naslund doesn't follow through with her promise. The book sputters and sturggles to find itself, and verges on sappy romance occasionally. I felt the book was very self indulgent exercise in fantasy for the author, which is not to say that cannot sometimes be a good thing. But I fear I will not so happily anticipate her next book either. I predict this novel will be a big disappointment for fans of Abundance and Ahab's Wife. Perhaps Naslund should stick with the successful historical fiction genre in the future, which is what she does best.
This evening, I finally finished struggling through this book, hoping that at some point all of its bizarre inexplicable dead ends would come together and make sense. Instead I had to suffer through an ending containing a plot device so contrived and dreadful that I doubt Greg Iles would stoop so low as to use it.
The author has some good ideas, any one of which would have made a good novel had she stuck with and explored them fully. Instead this novel lunges from idea to idea interspersed with pathetic plot devices more deserving of pulp fiction: In one typical scene an all powerful CHAOS type organization goes through the bother of building a runway in a forest (2 days random travel from where their target is) so that they can land a small plane there piloted by three aging and minimally armed villains without body guards. These villains actually arrive just as the book's heroine happens to step into said clearing, but they are disarmed and beaten up by a man using a french horn case.
This kind of bunk might go over in something faced-paced and fun (The Da Vinci Code?) but here it is interspersed with flowery philosphical musings about metaphysics.... egads, what a horror !
I really liked this book. I found it original, fast-paced, fun and filled with wonderful characters. It's a very different kind of book, and I would encourage readers to keep an open mind. This isn't an Ahab's Wife-like retelling of Adam and Eve. It's kind of a thriller, with a codex and all that implies (i.e. religious uproar). It's also a little bit fantasy, a little bit love story, a little bit science fiction even.
It could have been a 5-star read for me, but there was some ridiculousness that I just could not get past. Conveniences that hampered the story rather than helped it. At one point, I just wanted to scream at the editors and demand they explain why they hadn't insisted on fixing it.
At times I found the writing and story flow choppy, which was so unexpected for Naslund because she usually writes beautifully. However, lodged between the bumpy and convenient beginning and end there is the oasis of Eden. The fictional Eden of the book, and the oasis of gorgeous writing and story telling. (Adam eating a tangerine ... Sublime! so simple, yet so beautiful) I loved that part of the story!
I feel like this book had an agenda (a couple actually), and the agenda got in the way of it being brilliant. The potential was there.
I've read (and loved) two other books by Naslund and I thought she was sort of a prissy writer. But this book showed me she's willing to get her hands dirty, and that makes me want to read more of her work. So while this book is not perfect, it's still a really engaging, fun read.
The book seemed a little schizophrenic. Not only do you have the scientific discovery, but then Lucy also somehow ends up with an unrelated, previously undiscovered ancient manuscript. Assassins hired by Christian, Muslim, and Jewish fundamentalists try to kill her. She falls from the sky into the one area in the Middle East that is unpopulated but for one gorgeous naked young man, who's also American, and luckily, it used to be a farm so there's plenty of food for both of them to survive. As if that isn't enough, secret prehistoric cave paintings are thrown into the mix.
Wild plot aside (I burst out laughing in some scenes, especially the one where there's this "wild" monkey boy that jumps from trees---never mind too long of a story), Adam and Eve's true downfall is the writing. Naslund is a gifted writer, no doubt. However, from the first chapter on, the narrative falters under the weight of its mysticism and esoteric tangents. The dialogue often veers into the ridiculous. I find that the more unbelievable and improbable the plot, then the more grounded the characters need to be to anchor the reader to the story, which didn't happen for me here.
"Everything's here," he answered. "that ever was or ever is to be. 'God in three persons,'" he suddenly sang the dying-fall chant of the doxology in a deep and resonant voice as though he could fill a cathedral, "god in three persons, Blessed Trinity...Everything's here and more," he went on in a quiet voice, matter-of-fact, explanatory.
"But Adam," I said, "how can you say 'everything and more' Everything is everything. You can't have more than everything. You don't use language right."
"Words disappear in the air," he explained. "Words are volatile. That's their essence. Who can say how they bubble up, how they break free, and disappear?"
I started to counter, Not if you write them down. Not if you put them on a disk and project them on the ceiling. Not if they're full of love. And meaning. But my words seemed less true than his.
"Scientists say," I said carefully, "that nothing escapes from a black hole. Not even information. Not light. But I never understood how could they speak of information in that context."
Naslund was trying to get a message across, but I wasn't exactly sure what it was. That no matter how painful the cost, humans crave knowledge and will forsake a paradise of ignorance to obtain it? That religion is bad? That humans are responsible for their own downfall and salvation? I could not tell you.
I didn't dislike everything about the book. Lucy, as a modern Eve, is a strong, capable, and independent woman who can fly planes. She is hardly portrayed as the temptress to innocent Adam, but is the literal bearer of knowledge with shattering ramifications. The setup for what happens to her because she is the protector of that knowledge is fantastic one; unfortunately, the rest of the book didn't follow through.
This is easily the most boring, slow moving book I have read in a long, long time. It had no redeeming qualities as a piece of literature that I could find. Some books that a person finds boring, the reader can at least say that they perhaps gained some knowledge or somehow emerged better educated from the experience, but that could not be farther from the truth in this case. It's just plodding for the sake of plodding. My specific gripes: 1) no consistent characterization. The main characters darted all over the place in their attitudes and actions for no particular reason. And half the time the "insane" one displayed the most sanity of any of the characters, while the ones theoretically of sound mind seem unable to act anything but completely ridiculously. Except with no excuse to justify it. 2) Non existent, pathetic bad guys. Considering how scary the reader is told they are, they take their darn time actually trying to get at our characters. And despite being told they are really powerful individuals . . . they're not. It's like a bunch of mildly irritated, easily distracted 13-year-olds are after you. The author refers to them a lot like they're something to be worried about, but the reader is never concerned because they're a non presence. We can only hope that all radical organizations are half as pathetic and ineffective as the group depicted here. 3) Oh my word, this book was literal. What should have been an interesting storyline just came out as a lack of originality. Just read Genesis, it's way more interesting than this novel. And literal translates really easily to predictable when you have the vaguest idea of the Biblical story. 4) It's not enough. It's not enough anything. There's a tepid quasi romance, a less than half-hearted attempt at being a thriller, veiled mentions of war and violence with no commitment to what any of that might mean, a vague attempt at surprise without resolution. Such small bites of different types of writing that they don't even leave you wanting more. 5) Just not believable. I'm a religious person, and I was just never convinced that finding a guy stumbling on a *secret genesis codex* never verified by anyone who mattered at all would throw any religion into irreparable turmoil. After all, the Gnostic gospels didn't overthrow Christianity, people are going to believe what they're going to believe - the major world religions have lasted long enough that I'm unconvinced one random kook coincidentally stubbing his toe on a scroll would mean the end of religion as we know it the way the author seemed to think.
Even when I agree with the overly preachy message this book is selling - religions have so much more in common than they have differences! Fundamentalism and intolerance are bad! Education is good! - it was almost unreadable. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone, period.