Friday, September 04, 2009

The Firstborn

I'm not quite sure what to make of The Firstborn by Conlan Brown.

Let's start with the plot. The Firstborn are the descendants of the people who were raised from the dead when Jesus was resurrected. God gifted this group with three distinct powers. Some could see the past. Some gained insight into the present. Some can read the future. But rather than work together as a unified whole, the Firstborn have spent most of their existence fighting with each other, sometimes with bloody results.

Now the three separate branches of the Firstborn are going to unite under the office of Overseer because they face a tremendous threat. But some of the Firstborn, namely Devin Bathurst, John Temple, and Hannah Rice, are about to discover that the problem isn't coming from without but from within.

Let's talk positives first. The story is action packed. The men are heroic. The women are too. And the central themes that emerge as the Firstborn wrangle with the horrific threat they face are very good and spot on, definitely worth considering in this day and age. An (possibly) unintended benefit was presenting a valuable perspective on terrorists and why they're motivated to do what they did. But while I considered one of the terrorists sympathetic, one with valid points that should be considered by Christians, I suspect that his words will be ignored by most readers simply because he's (and read this with a bit of sarcasm) the "bad guy."

That's perhaps the one thing that bothered me most about this book was the uber-patriotism that went unchallenged throughout the book. It seemed as if America and Christianity were presented as synonymous, that what benefits one definitely benefits the other. Granted, most of those arguments were delivered by the real "bad guys," but they mostly went unchallenged in the book.

Another problem I had was that while the Muslim viewpoint was presented, I fear that what the characters had to say will be lost by the fact that every Muslim in the book is a "bad guy," a terrorist. A few more sympathetic Muslim characters may have helped Brown's overall points better but sadly, they were lacking.

What truly bothered me, though, was the attitude of the Firstborn. They seemed to think that they were the ones who had to bear the sword of God's justice on Earth, that their powers and ability somehow gave them that right. It's an unbiblical belief that, at first, isn't challenged. Eventually, though, some of the Firstborn seem to grow beyond that attitude ... only to fall right back into it in the end. That's problematic to me because it confuses what God's people should be about. Here's a hint: it's not vengeance or justice.

All those things aside, this was a pretty decent book. Not phenomenal by any means, but certainly thought-provoking. If nothing else, it made me grateful that the Firstborn are only a fictional creation. Because I fear that if Christians really did have these powers, what Brown describes would come true.

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