Two spiritual travelers set out to uncover one of the greatest mysteries of all time and discover as much about the meaning of life as they do about themselves.

Trying to uncover a deeper meaning in religious texts such as “The Ten Commandments” has led many scholars on an adventure of the soul and mind; after meeting at Paris’ Sorbonne University more than 30 years ago, authors Seraya and Haldane (Angel Signs, 2002) undertook such a quest. In their new book, they use their vast collective expertise to craft a story tracing a linear thread from “The Ten Commandments” across all belief systems, science and metaphysics. The authors are the main characters in the book, along with their guide, a seraph angel named Yeliyael, and a friend of theirs. By sojourning through history and to other galaxies via space-time travel, their adventure leads them to a plateau of greater understanding of humankind. As real-life experts in fields such as philosophy, religion, metaphysics, linguistics and many historical and ancient texts, the authors have a vast reservoir of knowledge from which to create this story. The tale begins as the authors summon the angel to help traverse history, time and space to visit historical sages to guide them on the path of discovery. Meeting up with great philosophical minds such as Moses, Lao Tzu, Buddha, Benjamin Franklin and many others, they receive guidance to decipher the true nature and meaning of “The Ten Commandments,” uncovering a complex series of coded messages in the text that could change the meaning of life as we understand it. In spite of the complex, heady nature of this tome, it makes for a smooth read. Although the basis of the authors’ overarching theories is scholarly in nature, the writing is accessible. Great care is taken to explain certain motifs and topics early on in the story so the reader may follow along easily later. Using their philosophies to uncover plot points is an ingenious method of storytelling, and the tone of the story is always at an even keel. Even when several major revelations are uncovered, the writers' reverence for the subject matter and their historical characters is always managed with great care.  Equal parts Dan Brown and Quantum Leap; an arresting, fun read, even for those with no deeper interest in religion.


Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2011

ISBN: 978-0983710202

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Manakael MasterWorks

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy,...


Britisher Haddon debuts in the adult novel with the bittersweet tale of a 15-year-old autistic who’s also a math genius.

Christopher Boone has had some bad knocks: his mother has died (well, she went to the hospital and never came back), and soon after he found a neighbor’s dog on the front lawn, slain by a garden fork stuck through it. A teacher said that he should write something that he “would like to read himself”—and so he embarks on this book, a murder mystery that will reveal who killed Mrs. Shears’s dog. First off, though, is a night in jail for hitting the policeman who questions him about the dog (the cop made the mistake of grabbing the boy by the arm when he can’t stand to be touched—any more than he can stand the colors yellow or brown, or not knowing what’s going to happen next). Christopher’s father bails him out but forbids his doing any more “detecting” about the dog-murder. When Christopher disobeys (and writes about it in his book), a fight ensues and his father confiscates the book. In time, detective-Christopher finds it, along with certain other clues that reveal a very great deal indeed about his mother’s “death,” his father’s own part in it—and the murder of the dog. Calming himself by doing roots, cubes, prime numbers, and math problems in his head, Christopher runs away, braves a train-ride to London, and finds—his mother. How can this be? Read and see. Neither parent, if truth be told, is the least bit prepossessing or more than a cutout. Christopher, though, with pet rat Toby in his pocket and advanced “maths” in his head, is another matter indeed, and readers will cheer when, way precociously, he takes his A-level maths and does brilliantly.

A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy, moving, and likely to be a smash.

Pub Date: June 17, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50945-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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