Oh dear, oh dear. I chose this for our book club. And now I’ve finished it and I really wish I hadn’t. They’re all gonna think I’m a freak. Why didn’t I pick a lovely Anita Shreve or a nice Jodi Picoult or even The bloody Road. Feic, now they’re gonna think I’m an pessimistic apocalyptic freak.
It was also on my list of favorite books of ’09 when I blogged a little while back. That was too soon because I had only read a bit of it. Retract, retract! Once I finished it it really didn’t live up to the first third.
I suppose the first sign should have been when I didn’t recognise the author’s six previous books listed on the inside cover. Never a good start.
Psychologist Gabrielle Fox, wheelchair bound after a dramatic and tragic accident, has taken a position in the UK’s infamous Oxsmith, a centre for highly disturbed and violent teenagers, at some unspecified time in the future. Her most demanding patient Bethany Krall, a delusional and cruel teenager who stabbed her own mother to death with a screwdriver before lodging it in her eye (oh God what will the book clubbers make of me?), has visions of death and destruction post-electroshock treatment.
Weirdly the visions start to come true and Gabrielle risks her professional reputation by outing Bethany as a prophet. Luckily a love interest in the form of physicist Frazer Melville believes her and together they embark on a long-winded campaign to bring Bethany’s predictions to public attention. It doesn’t go so well.
It’s a bit of a miserable read, but Gabrielle and Frazer’s relationship is heart-warming. Jensen does that well. Likewise her treatment of Gabrielle’s paralysis and discovery of physical pleasure, a difficult topic. There is a painful couple of chapters where Gabrielle has convinced herself Frazer is sleeping with another woman even though its infuriatingly obvious to everyone else (particularly the reader)that he’s not.
Jensen spends way too much time detailing evangelical fanatics obsessed with end of the world as we know it and the saviour of the believers. Yawn. There’s a whole lot of scripture quoted. Likewise when Frazer et al. get excited about Bethany’s visions of chaotic climate change. A little too much scientific detail. Yes I know it’s there to make the plot more believable but it slows the pace down.