Book Review: Mad Honey
This week's book review will be a little different. I've thought a lot about what to say without giving any spoilers. Many of my social media followers are also fellow followers of Christ. I'm always concerned about recommending secular books because they very often do not follow the moral standards my followers hold. This book deserves more of a conversation than a starred review, so that's what I'm going to attempt here.
Caution: If you do not want to read a book that will make you see the other side of a social issue, this book is not for you. In fact, you will probably not enjoy any books written by this author.
In a journal article titled "Propaganda in Early American Fiction," Lyle H. Wright writes, "almost invariably the propaganda that is to be found in early American fiction was written, not for the aggrandizement of any person, organization, or state, but to persuade people to act on their own behalf for their moral and physical betterment."
In simple terms, Mad Honey is contemporary propaganda. Very well-written, excellently planned, propaganda. Some readers will agree it is to persuade people to change their ideas for their own moral and physical betterment. Others will argue that the ideas promoted in the book do not contribute to moral and physical betterment.
Regardless, I think it's worth a bit of discussion, and since this is my blog, I get to make those decisions.
First, let's start with the writing.
The authors craft well-rounded characters and an engaging plot. I wanted to know whether or not Asher murdered his girlfriend Lily. I loved Olivia's bee analogies. I felt her anguish as she was forced to decide between protecting her son and contacting her abusive ex-husband.
Second, let's talk about the twist.
Halfway through the novel, the authors reveal a major twist. It's so expertly planned to ensure you see the characters the way the authors want you to see them that it's difficult to see them any other way. I was invested, so that when the script flipped and propaganda flooded in, I still didn't put the book down.
But I was also aware that this book was excellently crafted to make me understand a different point of view and for many, it will change minds. The second half of the book often felt like reading a brochure. I even searched for more information to make sure what I was reading is possible. It is.
Our book club had some very open and interesting dialogue. Each month we all propose titles and choose books at random. For the second month in a row, we chose a book that challenged our view of the world. And we began to wonder what God is teaching us.
God would not lead us into territory contrary to His Word. Let me be clear. But I do think He wants us to love and care for people, to understand more about pieces of the world we usually choose to ignore, and to spread His Word like a light into dark places. Perhaps He's using our book club to help us know where to shine the light.
For my readers who disagree with my worldview, please do not believe that because we disagree, I hate you. Nothing could be further from the truth. I pray that I will see people as God sees them. I pray others will see me as God sees me. I want more than anything for all people to see God's love shining through me. With that love, mercy, and grace also comes judgment - the other side of the coin no one wants to talk about.
Following God is not easy. I'd prefer to believe that if I followed God it would mean easy streets paved with gold. One day I will walk on those streets of gold, but for now, on this earth, following God means hard choices that don't always serve our self-interests.
But it's worth it. So so worth it.