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Bad Faith Paperback – 20 Aug 2008
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'This is, dare we say it, an important book. Think 1984 without the livestock. Bad Faith is a very clever satire, written with pace and humour and wholly deserving of a wider audience. My initial concern was that I would be able to identify with a narrator who was a teenage girl. But this notion was quickly dispelled as I was quickly caught up in the sinister dystopia that is Cass's world. Given the weight of her topic, Ms Philip wields her pen with a deft and surprisingly light touch. Never preaching, allowing her characters to perform their roles within her themes and bound by the confines of a tightly constructed plot. All of life is here; family secrets and delusions, a state-sanctioned serial killer called Holy Joe and a disconcerting demonstration of what might happen if fundamentalism were ever to overtake these shores.' [awarded 5 magnifying glasses] --Crimesquad.com
'Accomplished, complex and satisfying.' --Lin Anderson, author of DRIFTNET
About the Author
Gillian Philip was born in Glasgow and has been writing all her life, starting with short but frenetic novels about Captain Scarlet and The Man from UNCLE (having massive crushes on both). She has worked as a barmaid, theatre usherette, record store assistant, radio presenter, typesetter, and political assistant to a parliamentary candidate. While living in Barbados, where her steadiest job was as a singer in an Irish bar, she took up writing professionally, and wrote many short stories for women's magazines. IN 2001 she moved back to Scotland, and now lives in Morayshire with her husband and twin children.
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Have just realized this book was before Rebel Angels, but i've read RA first, if that makes sense!
Cass lives in a world not unlike ours. It may even be ours some time in the future. Religious diversity has been eradicated and replaced by the One Church. People of other faiths have been persecuted or fled into exile. In many ways I didn't fully come to understand how this process of rebranding and monopolisation by the One Church took place in Cassandra's world. I think perhaps that is because as the teller of this dark, complex tale Cassandra wasn't sure herself. Atheists and secularists are depised by the general community but below even them in the social hierarcy are the apostates. Those that have lost their faith and face complete and open discrimination by the popular mass. Cassandra's father is a cleric for the One Church and their family appears to be shielded from the dangers of persecution and intimidation. At the beginning of the novel her brother Griffin is more polictically aware and angry about the injustices in their society. Her parents try to encourage him to silence his political voice. Cassandra doesn't understand the mysterious uncurrents running through her home. The novel explores the destruction of her innocence as much as the frightening dystopian landscape in which she lives.
Cassandra's voice immediately pulled me into the story. It was highly engaging and in some ways quite endearing. I connected with her from the very beginning. Throughout the story, she confronts painful truths and seeks to uncover the dark secrets weaving through her family's past. Cass has her own dreadful truth and lies to balance in her mind too. The book is complex both in terms of story and emotion. There were times when I felt physically repelled by the decriptions of corpses but I just had to keep reading. At other times I was on the brink of tears.
The plot like Cassandra's emotions weaves an intricate pattern which does require close attention. But the novel is worth the effort on the part of the reader because I was transported into Cassandra's repulsive world. I felt that I had experienced these events first hand. Philip should be congratulated on her skill at making this story feel so real. At one point in the novel I actually felt like my heart would explode with the twist in the plot. I also loved the fact that the most harrowing parts of the story are followed by tender moments in Cassandra and Ming's relationship. It gave some much needed relief and moments of hope to what could have otherwise been an entirely disturbing novel.
Overall, Bad Faith is one of the most powerful dystopian novels that I have ever read. It challenged me to consider the meaning of faith and all its different forms. I congratulate Philip on a superb ending which completely swept me away. If you love dystopians novels, then this will be a sure-fire hit with you. A complex, compelling and incredibly powerful read.
Cass and Ming are very well written characters, and I liked them both equally. Their relationship was realisic and easy to identify with, which made them that much more likeable. The secondary characters were also a big part of the book, and were all written with depth and personality.
The inclusion of humour was a surprise to me, as I didn't think it sounded like the kind of book that would be funny. The author has a real knack for writing dialogue, and I think this is the main reason the book was so easy to read. It flowed easily, and never seemed to lull or slow down.
The plot itself occasionally reminded me of an episode of CSI or Bones, which is a good thing. With almost every chapter, my hunches and expectations were proved wrong, and the final conclusion was shocking and unexpected. My only complaint would be that I sometimes got confused with all the religious groups and militias, though I think that is probably down to my own thin knowledge on the subject, and not a reflection on the writing or story.
I didn't know what to expect from this book when I received it, but I'm so glad I gave it a chance and read it. It's much better than the summary makes it sound, and I really enjoyed it.