Devotion – Ros Barber
April is angry. Dr Finlay Logan is broken.
Only nineteen, April is an elective mute, accused of a religiously motivated atrocity. Logan, a borderline suicidal criminal psychologist, must assess her sanity in a world where – ten years after the death of Richard Dawkins – moves have been made to classify religious fundamentalism as a form of mental illness. Asking fundamental questions about the nature of reality, Barber skillfully explores the balance between the emotional and rational sides of human experience.
The wonderful Oneworld Publications sent me this gorgeous looking book – check them out, they have a fantastic range of books!
The story itself is certainly interesting, and the blurb pulled me in instantly as it was unlike anything I had read before. It cleverly dances on the line between religion and faith and psychology and reasoning – two arguments I find extremely interesting. It plays with the ideas of destiny and chance, and how these can often shape how our lives play out.
The book is split in to 6 parts, each with numerous sub chapters that relate to different parts of the story:
Left | Hole | Salmon | Reality | Surface | That | Contract | Lost | Found | Accident | Lodger | Trees | Gone | Beans | Song
Alarm | Scrambled | Peace | Panini | Beastly | Epiphany | Acts | Stalk | Observation | Static | Interpretations | Wisdoms | Determined | Noodles | Compassion | Professional | Semi-transparent
Reflected | Clinical | Turkey | Things | Bonds | Medication | Without | Off | Frozen | Floored | Deer | Perfume | Mad | Remembered | Breakers
Through | Particular | Peculiar | Appreciation | Presence | April | Meditation | Revelations | Headaches | Ghost | Alert | Court | Achilles
The novel is set in the near future (so pop culture references are still quite relevant to the reader), with London still in a state of fear over terrorism, but as the story plays out we realise that the fundamentalist Christians are really the ones to be fearful of. We’re pulled into a post-Dawkins world, with many of his views and arguments being brought to the forefront of the story and challenging the reader continuously about what the real answer to life is.
The story starts with Dr. Finlay Logan, the novels main protagonist, and an insight to how he got to the position he is in now and also introduces the reader to how his daughter, Flora, came to be (“His daughter’s conception was a thoughtless act.”).
Logan is a psychologist who is still struggling to come to terms with his daughters death (Spoiler alert!!) and who has been tasked with providing a witness testimony for the case of April Smith, a young woman who is connected to a religiously motivated mass murder of a bus of children (chilling, I know!).
April is on a determined path, during her time in the asylum she resides in, to punish atheists and this is seen in her rantings and also in her scrawling on the wall of her room.
We are introduced to Dr. Gabrielle Salmon, a charming and warm scientist who has been working on some very interesting consciousness studies in which she describes God as being a feeling that can be induced.
I won’t give too much more away as you should give it a read and find out for yourself.
On reaching the epilogue, I was initially confused as I felt I had read this part already, but interestingly, Ros has included the beginning of the story at the end to help round off the story and assist the reader in making sense of what has happened. It’s very cleverly done, and I found it brought a lot of things into perspective for me.
I enjoyed this book and the various different psychological elements to it really sucked me in and left me with food for thought, that’s for sure. However, I did come away feeling like the novel overall wasn’t as enlightening as I thought it might be, it actually left me feeling a little disheartened at the thought of a near-future world that we could find ourselves in (for this reason, my review rating might be seen as a little unfair, I understand). There were some really fantastic points in the book, but for me I feel it could have pushed itself just a little further to have been a really incredible story.
That being said, I still enjoyed reading it, and would certainly recommend it if you’re after something a little more thought-provoking on your commute to work.