Welcome, friends. It’s that time again. As always, there will be a drawing for two copies. All you must do to enter is leave a comment saying you want to enter. That is one entry, and that is all you need to win. But if you are the type that likes to stack the odds in your favor, link this review on Facebook for another entry. Go over and like the Author page on Facebook for two more entries. If you are feeling real competitive, go buy any other book by this author (there are many) and that will give you five more entries per digital receipt you send me. Then, you can do some of these again tomorrow when I have an interview with the very talented Bill Myers.
This contest will last only a week. Get after it, sillies. Peyton is itching to pull your name from his special hat. Please leave a way for me to contact you in your message just in case you are one of the winners. Otherwise, if you do not contact me within 24 hours of the drawing, I will have Peyton draw another name.
So are you ready? Then let’s begin.
Last fall, I was clicking along through my usual blog sites when I came to Unveiled with Tim George. He had a review. Oh, I love a good review. So I clicked the magical-internet buttons and I was in. The first thing that struck me was the name of the book Tim was reviewing.
The God Hater by Bill Myers.
Why the heck would anyone, let alone a Christian writer, title a book with such an awful name? If I am being honest, that’s what I thought. Come on, you know you’re thinking the same thing. But it had my attention and I had worn out my fingers clicking all those buttons to get there. I might as well rest my fingers while I read and see what this guy was about.
**Blush** I had no idea who Bill Myers was. I take that back. My late grandfather was Bill Meyers, but he was not a published author and passed away nearly 17 years ago. Correction, I didn’t know who this Bill Myers was.
I read the review and scratched my head. This Bill Myers was maybe a bit off his rocker…not too different from my late grandfather. Bill wrote a book called The God Hater and it’s about an atheist. But it’s also a Christian techno-spec(made up term). And I thought, This I’ve got to see.
Tim was doing a giveaway drawing and I entered, thinking I probably wouldn’t win. Very Eeyore of me, I know. A couple days went by with no golden ticket in my inbox. I assumed someone else had won and decided I would put The God Hater on my wish list. Bill Myers had done what most writers can’t. He hooked me, the skeptic, so well that I was willing to spend my money to see how he could pull it off. I didn’t buy the book though. Tim George contacted me and said I was a winner. Woohoo! Free stuff.
Then, came the debacle of post office zombies eating my copy. I assume that’s what happened. The book never came, and those post office zombies do have sticky fingers. Poor Tim got his feelings hurt, thinking I was accusing him of not sending it. It probably looked that way on my status, but Tim didn’t know about the infestation of zombies in the US Postal Service. I quickly apologized to my friend and colleague. He insisted on sending another copy. That earns Tim a gold star for very cool guy. I still battle the USPS zombies to this day, but that is another story altogether.
Months went by with the book sitting on my stack of to read, taunting me with that awful but intriguing title. I looked into this Bill Myers character and found he’s written many, many books. I listened to a radio interview in which Bill says the tally is 112. That is where the blush above comes in. I should have known who he was, but I’m not too proud to admit I didn’t. Finally, I cracked it open. Want to know what I found?
An Author’s Note that made me think this Bill Myers must be related to my Bill Meyers. There’s a level of snark that falls at the intersection of bluntness, truth and confidence. Only the truly wise can pull it off without offending everyone. They still offend a few, but make no apologies. I’ve found I’m rather fond of anyone that can say, “if something doesn’t sound right or sticks in your throat, don’t waste your time reading this. Go to the original Source and see what it says.”
Dig the hook in a little deeper why don’t you, Bill. The title, the note and the unspoken promise that you are about to make my mind zing are all bonus points in my book. Clever fellow, you. That brings us beyond the part my writer mind loves, to the meat. All the rest is great, but does this Bill Myers deliver? And honestly, just because he’s written so many books, it doesn’t mean I am going to like his work. He was new to me and had to earn his stripes just like all others to come before him.
Nicholas McKenzie is a professor and an atheist. Not just an unbeliever, but the type of man that takes great joy and pride tearing down anyone that puts stock in religion or belief of any kind. To say it plainly, he’s a cynical jerk that is way too smart for his own good. The kind of person you love to hate, and secretly wouldn’t mind if the writer killed him off within the first few chapters. Until you see him interact with a friend and her son.
Annie Brooks is a professor and a Christian. She is also an outcast due to the fact that she shacked up out of wedlock and got pregnant. The man made dust once he found out. *Gasp* She kept the baby and now lives with that shadow hanging over her head. Funny how the most supportive person she has is a grumpy old man she works with.
Rusty Brooks is Annie’s son and the glue that holds Nicholas and Annie together as the most unlikely best friends. He is only five.
Travis McKenzie is Nicholas’s younger brother. He’s had an outlaw’s past and only comes into contact with his brother rarely.
Alpha 11 is a virtually simulated character in a world created to gauge human trends for marketing.
Now that I’ve introduced you to the main characters, let me cheat and give you the blurb from Bill Myers page.
A cranky, atheist philosophy professor loves to shred incoming freshmen of their faith. He is chosen by a group of scientists to create a philosophy for a computer-generated world exactly like ours.
Much to his frustration every model introduced from Darwinism, to Existentialism, to Eastern beliefs fails. The only way to preserve the computer world is to introduce laws from outside their system through a Law Giver. Of course this goes against everything he believes and he hates it. But even this doesn’t completely work because the citizens of that world become legalists and completely miss the spirit behind the Law.
The only way to save them is to create a computer character like himself to personally explain it. He does. So now there are two of him—the one in our world and the one in the computer world. (Sound familiar?)
Unfortunately, a rival has introduced a virus into the computer world. Things grow worse until the professor in that computer world sees the only way to save his world is to personally absorb the virus and the penalty for breaking the Law. Of course it’s clear to all, including our real world professor, that this act of selfless love has become a complete reenactment of the Gospel. It is the only possible choice to save the computer world and, as he finally understands, our own.
What I think of The God Hater-
I grew to love and sympathize with Nicholas. This man was damaged by the cruelties of life. And where I would have turned to God, Nicholas spit on Him. If not for the grace of God, we could all be in his shoes. Belief is a heart condition and Nicholas’s heart was broken by loss.
I love the relationship between Nicholas, Annie and Rusty. Annie loves the unlovable, Nicholas melts under the charms of a five year old boy and his mother, and Rusty loves like a child. Very representative of how God loves us before we surrender, we melt and then learn to love like a child once again.
The virtual program created in the book was made as a research tool to simulate buying trends and consumer opinions. Several corporations are eager to get their hands on it. But for me, this aspect of the book was only the vehicle to get Nicholas to his brother and the program he helped create. That is when the story takes off.
The virtual program fails with each simulation and the scientists are at a loss. They ask Travis to bring in his brother, Nicholas, for an outsiders’ logical perspective. Together Nicholas and the programming team decide that the virtual world is failing because they have no guidelines to live by in their Darwinian culture. Survival of the fittest is brutal. The community dies with every simulation. The team introduces Existentialism. This too fails miserably. The virtual inhabitants respect everything more than their own lives, and virtual nature kills them off with disease.
Whoever said creating an entire world and having it last was easy? They lied. And although it pains the atheist to admit it, this virtual world needs real rules given by a creator. That’s a little better, but the world soon falls into legalism. The heart behind the law is missing. And so, Nicholas has his brother create a character in his image to go into the world and show the people how to live in the law.
Bill Myers has written an excellent allegorical retelling of the nature of a damned humanity and the ultimate sacrifice of Christ. The deeper truth that dictates redemption’s meaning. Bill actually puts his virtual characters at an extreme disadvantage in the beginning by not letting them know they were created, and they had a creator. And unlike humanity, the program was created with all the flaws of sin and therefore had no real choice and no real chance. A brilliant way to show how logically and spiritually we need God.
In the end, we don’t know if Nicholas is made whole in Christ. And really, do we know that about anyone? People can talk the talk and walk the walk, but only God sees the heart.
So what is my overall opinion on the book that I first believed had an awful name? I think the name of the book is perfect. And this Bill Myers exceeded my expectations. So much so that I am going to spend my own money on two books to giveaway to two very fortunate individuals. I also ordered Bill’s Forbidden Doors series for my children…okay and me. I’ll think about this one for a long while after this review.
5 Anvil Rating
Thank you all for joining me once again. Please don’t forget to leave a comment, come back tomorrow for an excellent chat with Bill Myers, and share the anvil love with all your friends.
Peace, love and God’s will.