Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I gave this book 3 stars for I’m not really sure what I think of it. I’m an atheist, but my core family is very religious, so I come from a unique perspective. It is neither how to prove nor disprove anything, but rather a bit of how to interact with those that are “hard core believers”.
With the disclosure being said, here is my review. My personal comments are in brackets [ ].
Mena Reece is coming of age the hard way. She was a sheltered teen raised by a very religious family and a very centralised church. [Sounds like it’s a fundamentalist church by the way it’s described.] Her church group and friends are up to no good messing with people in their effort to proselytise and save souls — this directly leads to youths attempting suicide. So, Mena is forced out of her church, her family is very, very uncomfortable around her [understatement] and her former church pals hate her openly. It’s a tried and true teen horror for stories.
Her new life has been teaching her to stand on her own two feet, develop her own thoughts and opinions, and try not to get pulled into the tide of drama. Science class helps in the form of opening her eyes to new possibilities and the concept of believing in a god while also believing in evolution.
I really expected more. It’s a thin book, so there isn’t really that much you could have expected, but still, more. As it stands, this book starts out with a great concept, then flattens it, takes away it’s seriousness, and turns it into a teen drama fit for Lifetime TV. If the point was to say something along the lines of “you can believe in God, Jesus, science and evolution at the same time… it’s OK”, then it succeeded in the last couple pages, but really, you don’t need the full book to get to that message.
All characters in this book are very, very shallow. One one hand you have the militant fundamentalists (which could have used a lot more depth and personality), and on the other you have the atheists. The way the author portrayed the atheists was a little more open than some would; they had open minds to religion, but their agenda was still the same. Mena, the girl stuck in the middle was your traditional, lacklustre teen with dramatastic issues. Even her new friends with open minds, or the heroine of the book that gives Mena direction and the hope that she can reconcile the belief in a god with belief in science and evolution were flat and one dimensional.
When writing, a great concept and story beginning can be ruined by the characters and not taking time to develop things. It makes it worse when the reader has expectations, and they are not clearly stated in the summary or somehow up front about what the book is about.