Sunday, March 11, 2012

Book Review: Wayward Son

Wayward Son by Tom Pollack, with Jim Alves and John Loftus.

The blurb on the back of this book mentions a female lead, an archaeological discover, and a biblical character. I was intrigued, but my previous experience with many books that have similar blurbs is that they usually end up with some evidence to disprove Christ’s divinity, or disprove the Bible, or something like that. Not Wayward Son.

The blurb does not do this book justice.

First off, we meet Amanda James. She’s a young employee at a Californian museum and has an impressive archaeological and linguistic resume. She gets a call from an old friend telling her she’s his only hope in deciphering a puzzle on a recent find before the end of their dig season and he needs her on a flight tonight. Before she can leave, she has to attend a function for her museum where a wealthy donor offers her a job as the host of an archeology show in Japan, but she has to accept the position and fly to Japan today.

That donor is unveiling a new set of murals to be donated to her museum. The eccentric painter is in attendance at the function, and comes off as rather creepy - as do his murals which depict warfare and death through the ages.

Amanda ends up at the dig her friend called her about, and helps out, in the processing she discovers a vault full of artifacts.

Now, mind you, that’s just the start of the book! From there, we take off on a trek through history meeting many prominent historical figures and seeing many important historical events. I don’t want to say too much about why we’re given this historical tour, but it’s necessary to the story and, really, is actually the main part of the story - much more so than Amanda James, who kind of book-ends the story.

I mentioned earlier that many books with a biblical discovery often have it debunk the life of Jesus. Jesus actually shows up a couple of times in the book as a character, met almost in passing. I absolutely loved the way Jesus was portrayed, and it did nothing to take away from his divinity.

As I was reading this book, I kept thinking to myself “Oh I know what’s about to happen,” or “Okay, the big reveal of who the wealthy donor or the artist really is is just around the corner,” or similar thoughts. Each time, I was proven wrong. Way wrong. I love reading a book that keeps me on the edge of my seat and doesn’t do what I expect.

Wayward Son blew me away.

That’s not to say it’s perfect, no book is. Some of the historical meetings seemed too convenient or contrived (not the Jesus one though, that one was perfect). Some of the writing seemed... I don’t know, too simplistic, or too modern for a historical setting. This wasn’t enough of a problem to detract from my overall enjoyment of Wayward Son.

Again, I don’t want to say too much about the plot of the historical parts of this book, because it’d give away too much. I will say it’s a story of longing, redemption, and reconciliation. And it has a wonderful ending that brings us back to Amanda James and her story. Wayward Son is supposed to be the start of a series and I hope future installments live up to this beginning.

Oh - that reveal of who I thought the wealthy donor or the artist would be? I was so wrong.

Wayward Son by Tom Pollack, with Jim Alves and John Loftus was provided to me by the publisher for review.

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