Monday, May 24, 2010

Review: The Last Christian by David Gregory

The Last Christian by David Gregory
Genre: Speculative Christian Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 407
Date Published: May 4, 2010
Publisher: WaterBrook Multnomah
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher's book description:
A.D. 2088. 
Missionary daughter Abigail Caldwell emerges from the jungle for the first time in her thirty-four years, the sole survivor of a mysterious disease that killed her village. Abby goes to America, only to discover a nation where Christianity has completely died out. A curious message from her grandfather assigns her a surprising mission: re-introduce the Christian faith in America, no matter how insurmountable the odds.
But a larger threat looms. The world's leading artificial intelligence industrialist has perfected a technique for downloading the human brain into a silicon form. Brain transplants have begun, and with them comes the potential of eliminating physical death altogether—but at what expense?
As Abby navigates a society grown more addicted to stimulating the body than nurturing the soul, she and Creighton Daniels, a historian troubled by his father's unexpected death, become unwitting targets of powerful men who will stop at nothing to further their nefarious goals. Hanging in the balance—the spiritual future of all humanity.
In this fast-paced thriller, startling near-future science collides with thought-provoking religious themes to create a spell-binding "what-if?" novel.
Wow! This was such an intriguing premise. Abby spent her entire life as the child of Christian missionaries growing up in an isolated village in Papua New Guinea. After a disaster wipes out her village, she makes her way back to America and learns that Christianity has all but died out there. She also receives a video message from her grandparents, recorded on her 18th birthday, telling her that God has impressed upon their hearts that she has been chosen to reignite Christianity in the United States. What a surprising message to receive at such a time of upheaval in your life, eh?

The world portrayed in this book is fascinating. Set in 2088, the technological advances are astonishing but also pretty believable. When I consider how quickly our technology has advanced just during my lifetime, it is not that far of a leap to see virtual reality widely adopted and accessible through a computer chip within the brain, which is connected to an upgraded version of the Internet (called the Grid). And their newest prospect--of being able to download and replace your brain with a high-tech silicon version--is incredible and scary at the same time. To Christians in the story, it is horrifying because switching to an unnatural brain eliminates their humanity and thus their spiritual connection with God. A frightening concept, made more pressing as the owners of this technology look to use unscrupulous methods to influence the population to have these brain transplants to avoid death. The technology depicted in the novel gave it a science fiction flavor, which surprised me. I don't think I've actually read a Christian science fiction novel before.

Characters are always an important part of my reading experience. I liked Abby, but even though she was coming into America knowing little about the society and current technology, I thought that she was almost too naive at times. She seemed like such a bright girl that sometimes her prolonged confusion didn't make sense to me. Creighton Daniels was a particularly appealing character to me because he's a History professor. The way that education is portrayed in this high-tech future was mind-boggling. In a world where vast amounts of information are immediately available to everyone, they focus on teaching students to ask questions of the material, rather than answer questions using the material. I don't think I buy that projected future of the History profession, but it's an interesting idea nonetheless.

There were a few places where some Christian readers might disagree with some of Abby's theology (she doesn't adhere to the literal 7-day creation, for example) but it wasn't a problem for me (probably because I tend to look at creation in the same way Abby does in the book). It will depend on the reader's own theological stance, and it is but a small part of the larger story, which is filled with action, suspense, a bit of romance, and a frightening prediction of a future that places its faith in technology rather than in God.

Interested? Check out the book trailer:

Click here to read the 1st chapter in PDF.

**I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher, WaterBrook Multnomah. For more information on my reviews, please view my disclosure policy.**

Reading Challenges: Speculative Fiction Challenge, Thriller and Suspense Challenge

The giveaway is closed. Congratulations to winner Gwen at Chew and Digest Books!


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