Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hannah Payne’s life has been devoted to church and family. But after she’s convicted of murder, she awakens to a nightmarish new life. She finds herself lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes—criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime—is a sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red for the crime of murder. The victim, says the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she shared a fierce and forbidden love. 

In a future world where the lines of state and church is eradicated, felons roam the streets in multicolored stigma and revered church leaders commit sins in the worst possible ways, this novel portrays an all too familiar society present today that some would not dare admit.

In this dystopian universe, a sexually transmitted disease has rendered a good part of the population sterile, giving way to an political and religious fusion which brought about extreme faith-abiding laws which served as a noose around personal freedom. It encapsulates the reality how the faithful worship religious leaders like groupies in a rock concert and how, in return, these evangelists spread hope and strength while keeping terrible secrets of their own.

Aside from the gripping tale of an unlikely sinner protagonist, it is the characters' views on faith which I enjoyed the most. Like many of the articles and opinions I've read, it mirrors exactly my sentiments on religion, faith and today's society.

On the existence of God:
"If God is the Creator, if God englobes every single thing in the universe, then God is everything and everything is God. God is the earth and the sky, and the tree planted in the earth under the sky and the bird in the tree, and the worm in the beak of the bird, and the dirt in the stomach of the worm. God is He and She, straight and gay, black and white and red - and green and blue and all the rest. And so, to despise me for loving women, or you for being a Red who made love with a woman, would be to despise not only His own creations but also to hate Himself. My God is not so stupid as that."
On having a personal God not necessarily in congruence with any established belief:
And yet, Hanna's parents had taught her that faith was deeply personal, something between her and God alone. The contradiction struck Hannah now, as she fully appreciated how little volition she'd ever had in her own faith, how little her opinion had even mattered.
"My God is a God of infinite wisdom and love and compassion," Simone was saying, "not some bully who spends His time in throwing fire and Brimstone at homosexuals."
On the diversity of different religions and practices:
"A Catholic would tell you that questioning God is your first mistake, that faith must be blind and absolute or it's not faith at all. Of course, if I were a Catholic, I'd be wearing a habit not a collar, and my opinion about such important doctrinal questions wouldn't matter a damn to anyone... It doesn't matter to  God what we call ourselves, or even what we call Him. We're the only ones who care about that...."
On Free Will vs. God's Plan
"You don't have to stop thinking and asking questions to believe in God, child. If He'd wanted a flock of eight billion sheep, He wouldn't have given us opposable thumbs, much less free will." 
She'd been taught that free will was an illusion; that God had a plan for her and for everyone, a premapped destiny. But if that were true, then He'd meant for her to get pregnant and have an abortion, to be chromed, to be despised and humiliated, kidnapped and almost raped. She saw suddenly that this was at the core of her loss of faith: a reluctance to believe in god who was that indifferent or that cruel.
What impressed me the most is the undertone in the novel that, even though the world in the story is full of liberal minded homosexuals, abortionists and hypocrites hiding under the veil of religiosity, there is still this wonderful all-encompassing higher being who is watching over us all. That things aren't black and white as they seem. The shunned criminal may have reasons for his actions and the most pious evangelist may be hiding the blackest of sins.

Religion may be a driving force for most people but it is not a prerequisite in believing and loving an omnipotent being who, in my opinion, doesn't need a specific name nor an image. He (or She) may be born in a stable to be visited by three kings or from traders from Mecca, what matters is, we do the most that we can in this existence and try to touch as many lives as possible, religion or no religion.


Verlene said...

I'm planning to add this book on my "to read" list. Is it available as a free e-book on Goodreads? If not, maybe you can give me an idea of its price in a National Bookstore or in some other bookstores? Thanks!

Clarriscent said...


I don't think it's available for free on Goodreads. I don't remember where I downloaded my copy but I'm sure you can find a free pdf. or .epub version of it somewhere online. :) If not, give me a heads up and I can send you mine. Cheers!

Verlene said...

Hi again! ^_^ I had a hard time searching for it online, so I was wondering if it would be all right for you to send a copy of that ebook to me? I'll send you my email address thru Twitter...somehow, because even though I already followed someone on Twitter, I had a hard time trying to send that person a Direct Message because we both didn't follow each other. =/

Clarriscent said...

Hi! sorry for the late reply. It's no problem for me. Just mention me first, then we could follow each other and you can DM me your email address. :)

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