Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Audiobook Review: The God Bomb by Kit Power

Several disparate and desperate souls have gathered in a community center in a small English village seeking salvation or healing from the traveling preacher who has come offering God’s grace. However, one person in particular, a nervous young man who has taken the floor asking to be heard, has a very specific miracle he’s come to seek. He is hoping to actually meet God on this day, or there will be hell to pay.

The God Bomb by Kit Power is a tense and spell-binding psychological thriller told through the eyes of numerous characters, each who has had the misfortune to have chosen the absolute worst day to try for their individual miracle. Each chapter moved in POV and each POV is assigned the title of a book of the Christian bible. 

There’s the priest, a devoted man of God who fundamentally believes his own claims to be able to bring miracles to those who are genuinely deserving. There’s the born-again former druggie who now leads the band. There’s the militant atheist who has come to shower the fakir of a minister in rainbow glitter for spreading homophobic hate. There’s the crippled teen who sometimes believes in miracles, but no longer believes in them for herself. There’s the married couple expecting their first child, and there’s the man holding them all hostages with a bomb strapped to his chest.

Author Kit Power
As the story moves from POV to POV we learn of the motivations and prejudices each harbors. Some personalities we grow to like, others we grow to perhaps dislike; but in each case the characters are individuals with their own thoughts, opinions, fears, and desires. Some are brave and stoic. Some are reckless but well-meaning. Some are cowardly but trapped. Some are just frightened and want the whole thing to end peacefully. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t end peacefully. Throughout the story several of the hostages are murdered in cold blood by the bomber who wants to believe in God, but can’t fathom one who would allow him to do the terrible things he’s doing in His holy name when all He has to do is make an appearance to bring the carnage to an end.

The story carefully walks a very precarious tightrope. As a non-believer I found the approach of telling the story through the ideas of the characters to be safe but clever. A character who believes in God can tell the reader there is a God without it being the message of the book, while for believers, the atheist character’s struggle with faith can also be read as incidental to the story without coming across as the theme. In that sense, the story can be a Shrodinger’s cat – simultaneously faith-affirming and a testament to the futility of faith.

Narrator Chris Barnes
The audio book version is narrated by Chris Barnes whose Scottish accent keeps the listener anchored in the UK setting, which may otherwise have been taken for the deep south of the US, given that the preacher feels less Anglican and more Baptist in his approach to spreading the word. At times, it’s a bit of a struggle for an American ear to make out specific words, but the context quickly clears it up.

The story moves at a good pace, with the action starting from the very beginning and lasting ‘til the very last chapter. The style is intense but accessible, and the concept is unique but feels like it could have come straight from a real life news story. Among some of the best scenes are the deaths, told from the point-of-view of the victims, each realizing that he or she was passing, and each with a different take on how it felt and what it means.

If I had to find a negative, it would be that we only come to understand part of the motivation for what set this radical plan in motion; but we are given enough of it to know that something like this could happen, and that if it did, no amount of reasoning would ever make it seem justified. But whoever said faith has anything to do with reason?

 The God Bomb is available on Audible.

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