Thursday, October 4, 2012

Antichrist 16: The Becoming by C.J. Graves

Title: Antichrist 16: The Becoming
Series: Antichrist 16
Author: C.J. Graves
Length: 3449 Kindle units
Rating: 4.5 stars

The Plot

Nathan thinks the biggest thing he has to worry about is whether he can talk his way out of a suspension for fighting at school. Until the principal has a heart attack right in front of him, and Nathan’s ability to detect auras suddenly blossoms into something even more bizarre. Now he’s got people telling him that he’s the Antichrist, but that this is really a good thing because he’s going to unite people under the auspices of no religion. Except that the religious people of the world aren’t too happy about this and want to kill him. And his friends. And he’s not sure that he can trust all the people who claim to be on his side.

The Good

Antichrist 16 was a good book, and Nathan was a likable hero. He was neither too perfect nor too flawed, just a basic, easygoing, somewhat lazy teen boy. Who occasionally held great powers over the universe. His friends were also likable – Shayla was a strong biracial character, and Cheesman… knew a lot about cheese.

With the news that he is the Antichrist/Uniter of all people come a lot of new figures in Nathan’s life. Some of them want to kill him, and some of them want to help him succeed, and it is at times difficult for him to determine which is which. Especially since they keep lying about it. And through it all, Nathan really just wants to be normal. His journey through the initiation to being the most important and powerful person in the world is a captivating story worth reading.

The Bad

So there are basically two factions in the story: Keepers, who want to help Nathan live and bring peace and harmony to the world through the power of atheism, and Takers, who believe he is evil incarnate and needs to die. These people, especially the Takers, seem to have their Antichrist-killing penchants buried, like they are all religion’s Manchurian candidates. This whole thing is a little odd, and I don’t really understand what makes someone a Keeper or a Taker if they don’t make a conscious decision.

At the end of the novel, we find out that things are not nearly as clear-cut as we believed them to be, though I don’t want to give any spoilers. Suffice it to say I found the ending a little confusing, and I wasn’t really sure who was on which side anymore. And I think the outcome at the very end was a little extreme and also makes me suspect that the coming books are going to be kind of dark.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but Becoming? Overdone as a title. Right up there with Awakening. We really need some new words for coming of age.

The Romance

Nathan is a teenage boy, so he’s pretty much interested in any attractive female who looks his way, But he has a very close relationship with his best friend Shayla, who seems perfectly happy to join the Keeper team, even when Nathan engages in behaviors that seem morally dubious. Could they be soulmates? And does the Antichrist even have a soul? You will just have to read the book to find out.

Will I read more?

Here’s the thing. I’m not sure. Basically, it depends how the story ends. I don’t want to give anything away, but it seems like the story could go in some different directions. I have had this horrible dread from the beginning that it was going to turn out to be an atheist allegory a la The Golden Compass. It hasn’t gotten bad yet, but it still could. Or it could go in several interesting directions with deep contemplation of good vs. evil, nurture vs. nature, fate vs. controlling one’s own destiny. Or it could just go on in a ploddy story manner with some action scenes and a climactic resolution. If it’s the middle one, I have some interest in reading more. Otherwise I would probably pass. But the problem is that I can’t know how the story ends without reading it. It is the eternal paradox of being obsessed with good endings.

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