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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

Review: Fatherless by James Dobson and Kurt Bruner

Fatherless: A Novel - James Dobson;Kurt Bruner

I wanted to like this book. I really did. The message of where our country could be headed couldn't be more important, and I agree with what I think the authors are trying to say. Unfortunately, the message is either lost in clunky prose, unrealistic dialog, and repetitive storytelling or it is preached - literally a chapter is a pastor giving a sermon - and the reader is hit over the head with it. I also thought that 2042 was a little too soon for the kind of sweeping changes that have taken place, not only in government policy, but in attitudes and beliefs portrayed in this novel. 

Fatherless is told through several characters, most frequently Julia, a strong, independent woman of the world and journalist. She is the ideal woman of 2042, unbridled by significant relationships or figure-ruining offspring. She is assigned to report on an old friend's husband, Kevin, a politician who has made the unpopular decision to be married and have kids. 

The novel is loosely centered around the story of a disabled boy named Antonio. When he makes the decision to be "transitioned" (this novel's fancy word for assisted suicide), the unexpected consequences are far reaching.

Another side-story mostly served as a distraction and memory test, as I had to remember who Matthew was every time he was brought up again. He is seemingly unrelated to anybody else in the book, but is facing the decision of whether or not to "transition" his mother in order to use her assets for his own education rather than her long term care.

This story has incredible potential and a great message hiding in there, but it was a struggle to get through the poor writing. Statements were repeated as questions in dialog, characters were bland and unbelievable, and the whole thing just felt so contrived. It gets dreary and repetitive. There are actually sections where an event happens, then we are told about it again as two people talk about it, and then we are told AGAIN because journalist Julia writes an article about it! 

I will not be reading the sequel because no matter where this story goes the writing is just too substandard to tolerate. For a thought-provoking novel based on the possible futuristic consequences of devaluing human life, try Neal Shusterman's Unwind instead. (My review of it can be found here.) It is much more balanced and skilled storytelling.