I will admit I had serious reservations about this book going in. And even into the first three chapters, the only thing that kept going through my head was:
But for the most part, this book blew my socks off in the best possible way, and I’m really glad I didn’t DNF it after those first few chapters. “Gods without Men” has a very “Station 11” feel to its structure, and if you liked “Station 11”, I would highly suggest this book.
Centered around a triple stone outcropping called The Pinnacles in the middle of the California desert, “Gods Without Men” follows several characters spanning from the 1700s to the present as they all converge through history on this one mystical spot of land. The main story follows a Yuppie Brooklyn couple, Lisa and Jaz as they struggle to deal with the clashing lifestyles of his Punjabi upbringing and her upstate Bostonian background amidst the realization that their Autistic son has only brought their differences to the surface instead of knitting them together as a family.
But as the story unfolds, we find that their lives interweave with a failing British rock star, a few ex-members from a UFO Cult, an Iraqi girl simulating Iraqi life for deploying soldiers on a military base, and many long-dead historical figures who have passed under the 3-fingered shadow of The Pinnacles and been changed by the strange power surrounding the place.
The fun of this book is trying to figure out how these seemingly unrelated characters match up together all while Kunzru tackles the BIG issues of racism, classism, and the intense power of belief. Knzru’s writing is brilliant, engaging and beautifully provocative. He manages to never take sides while still delivering a true and deeply engaging conversation with the reader that makes you look at the UFO cultist or the terribly racist linguist and know them. Not a single character in this story can be looked on as the ‘bad guy’, and I really enjoyed that about this book. There were characters that I disliked, insomuch that I probably wouldn’t want to go out for drinks with them, but at the core of every single character, Kunzru reminds us that they’re human, and I felt for them, even if I couldn’t agree with them.
While I personally felt the ending fell a little flat, it didn’t diminish how much I enjoyed the reading experience of this book, or the time I spent enveloped in Kunzru’s awesome writing.
Definitely give this a read!