on 11 October 2011
I don't know how to qualify the experience I've had with this book. To me it was a totally emotional read.
It is beautifully written. The sentences are short and clear, and the book was really easy to read (I am not a native).
One would find it difficult to read a book about a religion that they've never really heard of before, but Michael explained everything clearly and it was really easy to imagine what life was like for the characters, and to understand the religion, its politics, the community, the life... not in depth, but the aspects of them that are relevant to the book. As a woman, I could identify myself with the female characters, imagining what I would feel if I was in their position. And while polygamy is often frowned upon and not accepted in the "world" I live in, and I've been raised with the belief that marriage is only between two people and two people only, I kept finding myself in total awe of the women's courage, loyalty, love, compassion and resilience.
The book kept me captivated, not because it was written in a way that kept me on the edge of my seat, but because it was a very interesting read as well as a book with a plot that was suspenseful. I still have a lump in my throat when I think about the book, it's how deeply it's touched me.
on 4 October 2011
This started off with a graphic account of a murder and immediately i thought this will be a good book unfortunately the following chapters for at least a quarter of the way through i found quite dull ,but i was glad i carried on as it took until half way through before it picked up pace and got considerably better. I am full of admiration for the author as the research into the background of this side of the mormon religion must have been intense, it was a real eye opener and at times unbelievable to think that there are pockets of religion that can exploit women, and the women take it as a normal way of life, if you shut people away from society and put a certain doctrine in their heads at a young age, this sect of people will be the result.Makes a 21st century woman want to reach out to these put upon women and young ladies and take them by the hand to show them an alternative way and least try to give them a choice,although they probably would not be comfortable living any other way. This story not only told you about the lives of the women it also told how corruption and the insane plan of a few to try to hold the power of the whole community in their hands would lead to murder, and brought out the fact that there was one rule for some and a much nicer rule for others.There are two places in the story,the one at the start and the one near the end that make gruesome reading,and a bit stomach churning. there is no indication that the last murder would be so graphic, so be aware, if you do not like reading stuff like this. i enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it,there are other books in the series following the sister and brother,who are the main characters, as they make a life for themselves away from their former lives and community.
on 10 March 2013
For those who enjoyed the TV series 'Big Love,' or are interested in polygamous Mormon culture, religious sects or dare I say it, cult mentalities, this book ticks all of the boxes.
A very unique murder-mystery taken from the viewpoint of a medical doctor who was raised in a polygamous Mormon sect and has not totally disconnected himself from the latter despite his moral quandries, holds plenty of promise, and this book really doesn't disappoint.
Anyone who enjoys murder mysteries, or is fascinated by polygamous Mormons or any other type of secular religious group would enjoy this book, but its true power comes not only from the subject matter and how well the writer understands it and deals with it, but from the fluent and cohesive writing style, excellent plot formation and the way that the writer also manages to make the reader really question their own understanding of the role of women within polygamous societies and how they might grow into themselves; albeit this is a fiction story only!
Highly enjoyable. Buy this book!
on 11 May 2012
I thought this was an absolute gem of a book. I'm already 3/4 way through the sequel.
Jacob Christiansson is a member of a polygamous, break away Mormon sect living in Canada. He is also a medical student. When he hears of the murder of young mother in a branch of his church in Utah, Jacob's father who is an elder sends him to investigate. The community does not want to involve the authorities and therefore Jacob is asked to inspect the body and say how she died. He soon discovers however that there are many in the conmunity who see his help as interference and will go out of their way to obstruct his investigation. Is there something else going on here and who did kill Amanda and why are the questions he must answer.
I found the description of the Mormon community fascinating. They lived and worked as a community and although their life was far from easy for the most part they were happy. Most of us would be appalled at their lack of amenities and their isolated lifestyle but are we happier than them. I liked the way the author explained that this sect really had little in common with the Mormon religion as a whole and that the practice of polygamy is not sanctioned by the mainstream church, something I was not aware of. All in all I highly recommend this series of books.
on 28 September 2015
Jacob and his sister Eliza are involved in looking into the death of Amanda Kimball. At the same time Eliza is to be married to one of three potential husbands. Jacob too is still single which is unusual in the sect to which they belong. The story weaves around the Lost Boys, one of whom is Enoch, Jacob's errant brother. Murder and mayhem ensue. Will the polygamous sect survive - you will read the story to find out.
on 20 May 2011
Most people will find the setting for "The Righteous" will feel foreign, even if they live in the US. Those who have seen the HBO show "Big Love" are a possible exception. "The Righteous" takes place in a fictional town in Utah, not unlike the fictional town where "Big Love" takes place. The residents of the town in the novel are practitioners of a fictional religion that is a fundamentalist offshoot of the Mormon Church; also, the same as on the HBO show.
The part of the story that makes it a thriller is unique. Although the concept behind the thriller portion of the plot could work anywhere where a group of people feel they are God's chosen or better in some way than everyone else, this setting works especially well. Some of the beliefs of the fictional religion (based on actual Mormon beliefs and practices from the past) are integral to the story. I'm hesitant to say anything more specific about the plot lest I let a spoiler slip. I'll say that as a fan of thrillers I found that portion of the story more than satisfying.
However, what sets "The Righteous" apart is the accuracy of the depiction of both the Mormon Fundamentalist culture and beliefs. Since religion, along with politics and sex, are the touchiest subjects there are, I should give a few more disclaimers before proceeding.
Mormon fundamentalist sects are not Mormons anymore than Lutherans are Catholics. The relationship between the two and the formation of the fundamentalist churches are much the same as in Protestant religions. The fictional religion depicted here has beliefs that are very much like the mainstream Mormon Church, with a few noteworthy exceptions. The most significant difference is the acceptance of polygamy and the beliefs of the fictional church that are in place to support and reinforce this practice (arranged marriages and pushing single males of a certain age out of the community). It has been more than a hundred years since the mainstream church abandoned the practice of polygamy. I believe a few other beliefs and practices depicted in the novel are no longer the official policy of the mainstream church. The mainstream church has changed over time, albeit extremely slowly -- the fundamentalist sects, not so much. That is what makes them "fundamentalist."
Last, I should confess that I spent my life until my late teens attending the mainstream Mormon Church, much of that time in Utah, so I've also had exposure to and experience with the fundamentalist sects, their members, and beliefs. I'm knowledgeable enough to evaluate the accuracy of what is depicted, while hopefully far enough removed to not be overly sensitive to areas where the religious practices might come off as strange or backward.
Finally, I've covered my rear and can return to discussion of the book, "The Righteous," by Michael Wallace for those who have forgotten. Often Mormons and Mormon fundamentalists as they appear in fiction or non-fiction books, movies, or TV shows are caricatures, accurate as far as it goes, but mainly making an appearance to get a laugh. Where a character is more complex writers often get something significantly wrong, whether on purpose (taking literary license for a better story), or ignorance. Although the cliché about truth being stranger than fiction might not apply in this case, the truth is strange enough.
Wallace gets everything right. His characters are realistic. They talk the way a devout Mormon or Mormon fundamentalist would talk. They think how they should think. With the exception of those actions directly related to the plot discussed in the description, they act the way they would act. I could even imagine someone from this environment straying from the actual beliefs of their religion in the way those involved in this storyline do. When Jacob Christianson is questioning some of the practices of his religion, it is very much like what others raised in this environment commonly go through.
**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog.**