Wednesday, August 17, 2011

REVIEW: Adam & Eve by Sena Jeter Naslund

From Amazon: "By decoding light from space, Lucy Bergmann’s astrophysicist husband discovers the existence of extraterrestrial life; their friend, anthropologist Pierre Saad, unearths from the sands of Egypt an ancient alternative version of the Book of Genesis. To religious fanatics, these discoveries have the power to rock the foundations of their faith. Entrusted to deliver this revolutionary news to both the scientific and religious communities, Lucy becomes the target of Perpetuity, a secret society. When her small plane crashes, Lucy finds herself in a place called Eden with an American soldier named Adam, whose quest for both spiritual and carnal knowledge has driven him to madness."

I had tried to read this book once before when I received it last year and couldn't get into it.  I thought maybe it was the timing and that I just wasn't ready to read that type of book right then so I set it aside to read at another time. That time was last week and much to my dismay it wasn't the timing.  It really was the book.  It starts off interesting enough with Lucy Bergmann's husband dying a tragic death by falling piano (yes, seriously).  He leaves her with a thumb drive that contains proof of life on other planets.  Some time after her  husband's death Lucy is invited to speak at a conference in his honor.  She realizes she is still very grief stricken over his untimely demise and while there is contacted by a man who asks her to smuggle an ancient codex giving an alternate version of Genesis out of Egypt.  Lucy agrees but when she is flying over Mesopotamia her plane goes down in a lush area that resembles the garden of Eden.  There she meets Adam a soldier who has gone slightly mad and actually thinks he is Adam from the Bible.

Ok now onto the problems I had with this book (and there are many):

1. This book is set about ten years in the future (2017-2020).  Is there any reason for this that I could discern while reading the book?  No.  All the things that occurred in the book could have occurred in the present with no alteration of the story at all.

2. The whole reason Lucy is asked to carry the Codex out of Egypt?  Well, because she was there and therefore convenient.  Apparently no one else in the entire country of Egypt could be found to accomplish this.  It must be Lucy.  Conveniently enough, she is a pilot as is Arielle, the daughter of the man asking her to undertake this dangerous mission.  They must be handing out pilot's licenses like greeting cards ten years into the future.

3. The alternate version of Genesis (the Codex) is supposed to rock the three major world religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) to the core.  Why?  I couldn't really figure out why.  The information contained on the flash drive is also supposed to make major life as we know it altering waves.  Why?  Couldn't figure that out either because it is only vaguely discussed and no clear explanation is given.  You would think that since these two items are supposed to cause changes of epic proportions there would be some urgency to the whole matter.  The book never really built up any kind of suspense except maybe for one scene. 

4. The "Garden of Eden".  I understand after surviving a plane crash, Lucy wasn't in the greatest of shape.  What is her first course of action upon crashing?  To seek out the naked man she saw lying by the river for help.  Yeah.  That is exactly what I would do if I were injured, I was carrying important historical documents, and my clothes had burned off in the crash-seek out the naked man lying in the mud who may or may not be a homicidal maniac.  I'll just have to take my chances that he's not I guess.  Also-Adam is dumped off here.  Lucy crashes here.  Another soldier ends up crashing here.  What is this place?  The Bermuda Triangle of the Middle East?

5. The whole ending for the thumb drive/codex with information that may change the world-completely lackluster.  I didn't like the ending at all or the way what little love story the author had going ended up.  Didn't like it at all.  I found the ending really bizarre.

There are a few good parts in this book.  I actually enjoyed the parts that were set in "Eden" where Lucy and Adam were helping each other recover.  Adam has a child like quality about him that is very endearing and I liked how the two main characters related to each other.  Unfortunately, that is about all I liked.  As for the writing itself, Naslund writes beautifully but the way the story would focus on Lucy for a chapter then jump to Adam without any kind of transition was a little too spastic for me. I really enjoyed Abundance, her book about Marie Antoinette.  I have also heard from several who have liked Ahab's Wife so I will not be giving up on this author.  I think this was definitely a miss though.

If anyone would like to try this one out for themselves, I added it to my Summer of ARCs/Galleys giveaway.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via the Library Thing Early Reviewers Program.


  1. I hated this book when it I got it last year. Ugh -- so awful for all the reasons you raised. Everyone tells me she's a fabu author but I'm not convinced!

  2. I had serious problems with it as well. It really did not live up to its synopsis

  3. I always like to see honest reviews. Based off the summery I thought Adam & Eve sounded interesting but it seems that all of the interesting bits were more of a let down. Thanks for the review!

  4. The premise of this is just so different that it seems like a book I have to read, but the knowledge that it's poorly executed really puts me off reading it. Maybe one to think about and not put immediately on my list!