There's enough truth, logic, and/or reasonable possibility in the pages of this book to make it mildly depressing. Set in the near future, Dobson and Bruner paint a rather bleak future of the world, with a few rays of hope sprinkled in for good measure. The media serves as something of a mouthpiece for the political agenda of the day and the pressing issue at hand revolves, unsurprisingly, around the sanctity of life. The twist, however, is the debate has shifted from life's beginning to the end.
Due to an ever-growing national deficit, citizens are treated as assets and debits. Productive members of society live as they do today, but the elderly, sick, and disabled are labeled as burdens. Burdens are encouraged to participate in a booming national program, known as transitioning. The transition process, which is essentially assisted suicide as a business model, is marketed as a responsible, even heroic action to take, because it will free future generations from the financial constraints of caring for you in your decline.
The book opens with a transition gone awry. An 18 year old boy who had struggled with severe disabilities his entire life consents to transition in an effort to provide financial and emotional relief to his family - mother and brother. During the procedure, however, his mother, who doesn't agree with his decision, breaks into the clinic and tries to prevent the transition from occurring. In a scuffle with security staff, she hits her head on some equipment and is killed, losing her life in a desperate struggle to prevent her son from sacrificing his. A lawsuit ensues and the story begins to unfold.
Dobson and Bruner weave together several lives from across political and societal boundaries. There's a young congressman making a name for himself with a controversial agenda and his family, for whom this agenda is personal. There's a famous reporter-turned-columnist trying desperately to salvage her career while battling personal demons that may or may not relate to her career. There's a young man, caring for his ailing mother, hoping to attend college, aspiring to be a professor someday, and pondering life's most difficult questions. And tying it all together is the single storyline of a nation facing an economic crisis and a moral dilemma.
Keep in mind, this is a grown-up book, engaging in a grown-up conversation. As such, the content addresses the nature of these themes and reflects the decline of moral values across the board. I don't read romance novels (of any flavor), so I don't have the best baseline, but I was surprised by some of the vividly detailed "romantic" sequences included in the book. Though, not erotic by any stretch, I was taken aback, almost like a child covering his eyes during a movie, complaining about a kissing scene.
All in all, FATHERLESS is a compelling read offering a (sadly) realistic look at a near-future reality. It contains a bit of everything, something to quench the tastes of most any reading appetite. Intrigue, suspense, theology, romance, and heart-wrenching "Hallmark" moments. It's all there and it paves the way nicely for the (now-anticipated) sequels scheduled in the nearer future: CHILDLESS and GODLESS.
Life changing. Wow. Every now and then a book comes along that is entertaining and at the same time so close to the truth that it makes you wonder how soon we will wait to see this very thing happen in America. FATHERLESS by Dr. James Dobson and Kurt Bruner is that book. It is the story of America gone to extreme in that the old, disabled and children are no longer the norm. It is about a country that is an "all about me" world were men are no longer men and women are no longer women as God created them. This book gives the reader much to consider. I look forward the the other books in this series, which are CHILDLESS and GODLESS, which will be released later this year.
I received this book from Net Galley and FaithWords for my honest review.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Once I started, I couldn't put it down! The book is absolutely captivating with interesting characters, intriguing issues, and a well developed plot. I can't wait for Books 2 & 3!
Every so often I read a book that leaves me feeling like the plot is entirely too possible, and I shudder to imagine that it might come true. Fatherless is just such a book, depicting a not-so-distant future where it becomes routine for an elderly person to end their burdensome life, where the average man doesn't even bother to have children but instead remains the eternal playboy, and where the concept of marriage is simply laughable. I found the plot to be fascinating, and needless to say I was hooked from the first sentence and held captive to the last page. Dobson and Bruner are a dynamic writing team, and have created unforgettable characters who will draw you in to their complex lives.
The book is sure to appeal to a wide audience, as there's no real violence to scare off readers used to more gentle reads. However, the plot is absolutely action-packed and filled with every day people working through deep ethical issues, ones that we are already facing on a much smaller scale. I can't even imagine what it would be like to live in a world where helping someone die because they are elderly and disabled becomes viewed as something heroic! I pray God saves us from such a future.
Fatherless is an excellent start to a series that is bound to not only entertain, but to leave you thinking about where our world is headed in the near future. I encourage you to pick up this book and journey with the characters through some frightening possibilities that will make you thankful that we're not living in that world - yet. 5 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of Hachette Book Group Canada, for the purposes of this unbiased review.