Mohamed and Matthew are twin brothers, separated at birth. Growing up with no knowledge of the other, one was raised as a Christian in America, the other as a militant Muslim in Egypt. Both are now pursuing college degrees, both love soccer, and when they come together suddenly, both realize that they love the same girl.
This fictional exploration of the differences between Islam and Christianity devotes more page time to life as a radical-Muslim. With the target audience consisting primarily of Christians this is understandable, it is the Muslim lifestyle and beliefs that are less familiar to most readers than that of followers of Jesus.
In addition to the suspense created by Mohamed's involvement with jihadists, there is also a certain element of mystery surrounding the past of the twins and how they are linked together. There is also a very low-key romantic triangle, but there isn't a lot of chemistry or emotional draw-in for the reader to be found here.
The character development was somewhat mediocre with Mohamed being the best fleshed out of the characters. Matthew was actually surprisingly shallow, he seemed a perpetual adolescent and the intelligence necessary to pursuing a medical career seemed to be lacking (at least it wasn't expressed in any way in this novel.)
I really wanted to enjoy Mohamed's Moon, but it proved to be only a so-so read. It was interesting enough to keep me reading but the pace was slower than expected. The exploration of Islam draws from actual quotes from the Quran that helps to lend accuracy to Clemons' work, but reading a good auto-biography from an ex-terrorist is a much meatier way to explore life from a jihadist's point of view.
Medical student Layla thinks she loves Matthew Mulberry enough to accept his ring. Yet she senses there is something he is not telling her. One day she comes face to face with Mohamed El Taher. He's Matthew's double but also a ghost from her past. After that, hers and Matthew's relationship gets even more tangled. However, in Mohamed's Moon Keith Clemons doesn't create only a love triangle but brings the world of two Egyptian expatriates into collision with a cell of calculating killers that has infiltrated America's highest office.
Clemons' skillful storytelling captivates as he whisks us between the present and the past, Egypt and California, and the viewpoints of Matthew, Mohamed and Layla. Through Mohamed we come to understand how a belief system even intent on murder can make sense and have a steely grip on mind and heart. Somehow using his writer's sleight of hand Clemons makes us sympathetic toward all three of the main characters, even though two are bitter rivals.
Clemons weighs in on some significant themes -- inequality between rich and poor (including the amusing irony of the Lexus-driving Mohamed pontificating against America's wealth to his rival, who drives a beat-up VW), forgiveness, and the clash between Christianity and Islam. Mohamed is thoroughly versed in the Qur'an and he and the cavernous-eyed professor Omar quote it often. When Mohamed obtains a Bible, its message of love and forgiveness shocks him. Could this be true?
The portrayal of life in Egypt makes this book especially rich and earns Clemons the label "atmospheric storyteller." The story is full of surprises and suspense -- a book with a taut beginning, middle, and end that's hard to put down.
This is the first of Clemons' books that I've read, but I'd definitely read more. It's not every day you find a writer who tackles a timely and controversial issue in a story so riveting and with such literary finesse.
on July 14, 2009
As promised on the back of the book, Mohamed's Moon delivers with style and intrigue. This exceptionally written book blends romance, adventure, religious fervor and emotion to the nth degree. Keith Clemons captivated this reader with his clever plot line and unpredictable ending. No syrupy ever after here. I gained insight into the inner turmoil of terrorists and the battle that might rage within. I also realized and was reminded about how faith in God girds and prepares a person and the unspeakable joy found in a relationship with Jesus. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a great suspense read. Just make sure time is not of the essence. This is a hard book to put down.