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Adam & Eve: A Novel [Hardcover]

Sena Jeter Naslund

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.5 out of 5 stars  50 reviews
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Aug. 25 2010
By Kiki - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
You know when you love an author, and you love her previous novels, and you very excitedly get to read the new one...and you really don't love it. Or hardly like it? That's what the deal is with this novel. I LOVE Naslund, Ahab's Wife was so awesome, I loved it so, despite it not being a well received book at my book group, I was Ahab's champion! So it was with great excitement that I started reading this new novel with what I thought was such a fabulous premise. The wife of an astrophysicist who has made a startling discovery about extraterrestrial life in the universe must go forward after her husband's mysterious death...but it just didn't work.

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.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From the sublime to the ridiculous - or vice versa Aug. 5 2010
By Nicole Del Sesto - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
There aren't any spoilers in this review. If something seems like a spoiler, it's nothing that's not mentioned on the dust jacket. If you've not read the dust jacket, and don't want any spoilers, then you should probably skip this.

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.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Horror. The Horror. Nov. 26 2010
By Hal Brodsky - Published on
This book is so bad I really have to wonder if it was co-written by James Patterson !
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 !
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Out there Sept. 28 2010
By joyful - Published on
I think perhaps Adam and Eve by Sena Jeter Naslund could have benefited from a firmer editing hand. The basis for a promising, provocative story is there. I was expecting, as this book touted, a "searing debate between evolutionists and creationists." Proof of life in another planet, the foundations of three religions shaken by a shocking new codex- exciting what ifs that I thought would be explored within the context of two people thrust into a semi-Biblical setting - innocence before the fall. Naslund took on too much and Adam and Eve did not deliver on its promise.

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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't Bother May 4 2011
By Jennifer Seitelbach - Published on
This book is very poorly written. The word choice boggles the mind. It's written to sound "smart" in language no normal human being would ever use. The similes and metaphors are strange and inaccessible, referring to images with which I can't possibly be familiar. The author describes the act of eating many, many times, which is a big no-no in writing (you're not supposed to mention mundane everyday tasks unless there is something significant about them because they are mundane and no one wants to read about them). The author is way too repetitive, mentioning her markers by which the reader is supposed to remember each character far too many times (she mentions Riley's feet, one booted and one not, once in one sentence, once in the next sentence, and once in the next paragraph). Also, at some points, she repeats parts of conversations which the reader has read very recently. I cannot find a theme, which is perhaps because the story never really goes anywhere. It is little more than a simple romance novel, and there are far better written ones than this. The narration focuses far too much on the main character's reflection. The character asks herself time and time again (while the reader dies of boredom) whether her husband was murdered. There is very little moving the story along (and by that I don't just mean things happening -- the story can be moved along through action or dialog far better than through reflection/thought because action and dialog engage the reader more). She uses far too many adverbs, a sign of lazy writing because there is almost always a more descriptive verb one can pick before resorting to an adverb. The shocking thing is she clearly took time to choose her words carefully, but her choices are horrific. In short, the author makes every mistake of bad writing I can imagine. The book has no value at all. It completely lacks any literary value, and it's painful, rather than pleasant, to read.

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