A lovely little read, a quick tasty bite. I love the original take on what mermaids are, how they come to be, and what motivates their actions. The laA lovely little read, a quick tasty bite. I love the original take on what mermaids are, how they come to be, and what motivates their actions. The lack of a professional editor's touch was noticeable, but not terribly bothersome. I agree with the other reviewer who said she wished the characters had been given a bit more depth, but for a story this length, even that wasn't terribly problematic for me.
One rather major plot question, though: why did Colin keep risking the trip over the mermaid's territory, even though he knew what she was up to? Why put the lives of all members of his ship at risk again and again? ...more
This book left me totally "meh." It dealt in some interesting concepts, but... But somehow it wasn't exactly the book I had hoped it would be. PerhapsThis book left me totally "meh." It dealt in some interesting concepts, but... But somehow it wasn't exactly the book I had hoped it would be. Perhaps I wish it had dealt more in the trade of ideas, rather than in the concrete examples of marketing. (That isn't fair, of course, since ALL things are actually a trade of ideas, but...) Iunno. The little epilogue addressed some of the dissatisfaction I was feeling by the time I got to the end of the original manuscript, so that's good, but...
In order to review a book like this, I feel it is important to start by identifying just what kind of an audience I am for this read, because for a reIn order to review a book like this, I feel it is important to start by identifying just what kind of an audience I am for this read, because for a read like this, the audience is everything.
Early in the book, Evans identifies two groups that are the intended audience for his tome: Interested outsiders seeking some insight into the Jehovah's Witness religion, and believers who might be tentatively seeking out external research on their faith. There is a third audience, however, that Evans does not directly acknowledge he is speaking to, but that is (I suspect) his biggest and most receptive audience: those who have tread in his footsteps before, who have put their religion on trial and found it wanting, and who have parted ways with the Jehovah's Witnesses.
I belong to this last category of readers. I received the book second-hand from someone who helped fund the IndieGoGo project to get the book into print. I approached it as someone who left the Witnesses due to loss of faith in God followed by loss of faith in the doctrines of the organization, which is rather backward from how most people go about it, but resulted in me not being as familiar with the gnarly depths of Witness history and doctrinal inconsistencies as might be other people in my position.
To Evans' credit, the book is exhaustively researched. This guy knows his history, he knows the doctrine, and he's not afraid to show it off. As a resource on the history of the Witnesses, and as an overview (and rebuttal) to some of their key doctrines and more shameful social shortfalls, this book is excellent. If you're looking for a light an fast read, though, this is probably not it. The exhaustive research occasionally spills over a bit into exhausting reading. He tends to go into more detail than seems merited on a number of cases, the footnotes often seem unnecessary, and several sections are very repetitive.
That being said, I really enjoyed his personal story of being in then getting out of the organization. His telling is so candid that reading it occasionally felt like voyeurism, though that is no fault. It was easy to cheer for Evans (and later his wife, along with several other folks whose stories are mentioned along the way) as they work their way through faith and doubt to a new start.
Where I feel this book misses its mark is in its attempt to address too many audiences. Evans admits in early chapters that addressing the two audiences he's aiming at will be a difficult task. A little too difficult, maybe.
As a book aimed at outsiders who want to learn more about Jehovah's Witnesses, I think the book works as a decent resource but might not be a rich read. The personal stories and philosophizing might detract from it as a simple reference work, as the personal narrative weaves (sometimes almost drunkenly) in and out of the researched material.
As a book aimed at "in" Witnesses who might be starting to explore outside resources, I think the book misses its mark more seriously. If Evans has one thing going besides good research, it is passion - passion for exposing the darker sides of this organization, and passion for helping other people come to the same conclusions. Unfortunately, I think his passion often feels a bit overbearing, even dipping into a tone that feels condescending in a few places. ("This stuff is so obviously true you're a fool if you don't also recognize it!") The "For Witnesses" boxes, meant to speak directly to this segment of his audience, often handles dearly-held tenants of faith abruptly and indelicately. Had I scanned one of those pages while still in myself, I would have slammed the book shut as exactly the kind of Apostate Lies the organization no doubt claims it to be.
All the same, I can't really fault Evans for this, because while I might read his tone as occasionally condescending, I don't think it is ever intentional. I think it is his passion leaking through as he tries to accomplish the nearly impossible task of appealing to those who are both deeply indoctrinated and terrifically skittish. Do I think some of those issues could have been handled more delicately? Yes. Do I know how to do it? Not yet.
But overall, I suspect this book could have benefitted from being two books: one about Evans' personal story, speaking only to "in" Witnesses, gently trying to lure them out and reassure them about their doubts by providing a reflection of their lives in his own; one about the detailed history, doctrine, doctrinal flip-flopping, and atrocious perpetrating of social injustice and human rights violations. I fear that trying to mesh the two together will make this a rocky read for either audience, and not effectively reach either the way he would like to.
If there's one thing this book accomplished for me, it was to get the wheels turning again. I've been out long enough now that I don't have to think about this stuff on a daily basis anymore. Evans brought (back) to my attention some of the greater societal implications of high-control religions (he does not shy away from calling them a cult) and what the responsibility of those who have gotten out might be toward those who are still in. I don't agree with every one of his conclusions (some of the lengths he goes to in the final chapter regarding how the government should regulate religions and how we all need to get on board with understanding that all religions are cults go a bit far for me), but I believe he is doing good work, contributing to resources that are going to save lives (both figuratively and literally), and I would not be ashamed to take a few pages out of THAT book....more
The anthropologist in me is gratified. I missed this entire scene - I didn't even experience the early stages of dating in the digital world, unless yThe anthropologist in me is gratified. I missed this entire scene - I didn't even experience the early stages of dating in the digital world, unless you count that one Yahoo instant message I sent while in college telling my future-husband that we need to have a Talk. I never dated someone I wasn't already friends with. I never pursued anyone with an eye to dating them. I missed all of this.
So this book was like an overview of a foreign culture, and for that it was very interesting. Ansari's research was solid, and while this wasn't a humor book in the purest sense, his light snark was a great tone for the subject matter.
Three stars because I did like it, there just wasn't anything about it that wowed me. ...more