The Chosen

The Chosen - John G. Hartness The Chosen is a fun little book that reads very quickly. As self-published ebooks go, it's well formatted and has only a couple of typos. Written from the point of view of Adam (yes, the biblical Adam) it takes place in the modern day south. It's written with a lot of tongue-in-cheek dry hyperbole, which suits me fine - Adam makes many of the same observations about the world and the personalities in as I do, with much the same sense of snide superiority. There were several LOL moments, and the whole book has a lighthearted levity to it.

The cast of characters is small, but involves some heavyweights from the christian tradition. Eve is hardly the pushover described in the old testament, and has styled herself as a barbrawling stripper with an acerbic tongue. She's the most interesting character in the book, IMHO, and seems to be more like the traditional Lilith than the western conception of Eve. Cain is unfortunately underdeveloped, and he exists mostly as a counterpoint to the argument du jour, swaying the plot one or the other as the plot requires. Lucifer, of course, makes several appearances and, as is typical in this sort of story, he's the character I would like to see get a lion's share of "screentime". The archangel Michael is the distillation of everything that everyone complains about in organized religion; he's clearly a sock puppet and punching bag for every inequity foisted upon the western world at the hands of organized religion.

The mortals involved in the journey include Myrna, Adam's most recent lover, who fortunately does more than just decorate the plot. Myrna and Adam's daughter Emily occupies a role much like Cain, though she gets a lot more dialogue. Sydney, a street preacher from Nashville, has a pivotal role in the story, but after his late appearance he's another sock pupppet - he dutifully trots out the right lines at the right places, but he feels like a cardboard shadow next to Adam, Eve and Lucifer.

This book has two main parts. The first is getting Adam, Myrna and their daughter Emily together with Eve and Cain. The archangel Michael is chaperoning this adventure, and hilarity and tears often ensue as the immortals find ways to overcome the resentments that have been burning inside them for eons. This part of the book explores human relationships, and it's where the author's ability to casually drop LOL observations into every other sentence really shine through. Once the party is assembled, they leave New Orleans for Nashville to collect Sydney and the second part of the book.

Once Sydney is gathered into the band of merry christian pillars, Michael explains he is to make a Choice that will affect humanity for generations - cue the Garden of Gethsemane "oh why me" chorus - though thankfully it's cut short with a minimum amount of navel gazing. Adam will need to make a Choice as well, of the same order of magnitude as Eve eating the forbidden fruit. The party rolls north to Washington, DC for the final choice. This part of the book has a slightly different tone; there's not a lot of character development, but plenty of dialogue where the ideas of 'free will', 'sacrifice', 'true love' and 'commitment' get hashed out again. Unfortunately, despite the interesting characters the author has to work with, no conclusions are drawn that haven't been drawn a million times before.

The final scene, ironically, felt predetermined despite the couple of hundred of escreens discussing free will before it. By the time the final confrontation between Lucifer and Michael takes place, it really does feel like these characters are going through motions they've been rehearsing since page one. It was a bit anticlimactic, really, and lowered my opinion of the book. I feel that if an author is going to draw from the roots of the christian canon for their material, they should either have something new to say or be prepared to go somewhere nobody has gone before.

As an entertaining book filled with funny and snide commentaries on human nature, this book wins. But as a story that asks important questions and answers them in thoughtful ways, it falls a bit flat. I would recommend this to anyone who likes to read skeptical interpretations of christian mythology, and/or lightweight familial dramas with a humorous tone.