Tuesday, January 16, 2007

This long weekend was all about finally watching The Best Of Youth, but I did manage to finish Prayers For The Assassin by Robert Ferrigno. It has a very provocative premise: in the future the United States endured another civil war, splitting it into an Islamic country, with the southeastern Bible Belt breaking off and Nevada enduring as some sort of gray area/free trade state. The map provided also shows Utah and part of Idaho as the "Mormon Territories", but that hardly rates more than a passing reference. Basically, in the future the world is rocked by coordinated (supposedly) Zionist nuclear terrorist attacks, prompting the world's population to flock to Islam in massive numbers and resulting in the institution of Islamic rule in the US. The book wants desperately to be thought of as thought-provoking, even invoking shades of The Handmaid's Tale with Canada as the escape hatch to freedom, but ultimately it just feels like a run of the mill thriller dressed up in fancy, slightly science fictional clothes - definitely more flash than class. I mean, do we really need to be told that religious extremists can be dangerous? I don't think that's news to anyone. Islam doesn't come off well here, but I can't decide if the author was purposely trying to write an anti-Muslim book or if the portrayals of the moderates just weren't enough to overcome the sometimes cartoonishly fanatical leaders. I have no doubt that most of the religious scenes in the book weren't exaggerated much, but it was far too easy to place in the "fiction" category of my mind, which only served to abstract the religion and make it seem not Islam, but "Islam". If that makes sense. Anyway. I nearly gave up on it several times and rolled my eyes at every sex scene (did he used to write fanfic or something?), but the thriller aspects - the chase scenes, the fights, the mystery - kept me going.

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