This book has a lot of things going for it. Unfortunately, to me, it also had a lot of things going in the opposite direction.
On the plus side, the story starts with a bang. Sixteen-year-old Aiden, hanging out at his father’s bar, is overtaken by a strange phenomenon causing light to stream from his eyes and mouth healing everyone in the place. One of the ‘healed’ is the local pastor who, as a result, finds ‘religion’ and becomes a rather nasty zealot, wanting to harness Aiden’s new-found power.
The narrative then switches to another teenager, Bobby, who is in the process of planting bombs all over the high school. I found this thread much more interesting than the Aiden one. Bobby is a three-dimensional character who is interesting and has a story to tell.
These two plot lines weave together as the book comes to its terrible climax.
So, what were my problems with this novel? The first thing that puzzled me was about Aiden’s father, Jack, who was crucified (literally) for having an affair with Mickey O’Connell’s trophy wife. The perpetrators were Mickey’s sons, Mitch, Pine, and Elroy. As a result of this brutality, Jack is left crippled and confined to a wheelchair. However, no one went to jail and no one, apparently, was prosecuted. Does this make sense? Not to me.
Secondly, the novel could use a good editor. There were missing words and some of the sentences were so convoluted, I had to read them two to three times to get their meaning.
Third, the police are again absent during the melee that ensues after Aiden escapes the bar. Why does no one call 911?
Lastly, while some of the characters, like Bobby, are fully fleshed, Aiden is curiously flat. We learn little about him and, thus, can’t really relate to what he’s going through.
Thompson is a good writer and this novel, if reworked, has the potential to be a gripping read. I just think it went to press too soon and could benefit from a good rewrite.
I received a free copy of this novel from the Library Thing’s Read and Review Program.