Johnny's Reviews > Gods of Aberdeen

Gods of Aberdeen by Micah Nathan
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Jun 22, 12

bookshelves: thriller
Read in June, 2012

Some of us have a warped idea of ivy-covered private colleges in the Northeast. At least, I hope my idea of spoiled rich kids driving cars that cost more than my 401K and spending more time partying than researching is distorted. But the perspective in Gods of Aberdeen matches my preconceived notions. Even worse, the novel manages to take an underage inner-city orphan who has excelled due to both natural acumen and work ethic and turn him into a drunken, drug-ingesting, sexually promiscuous party guy without getting so far behind in his studies that he doesn’t earn a major academic coup and manages to push forward in terms of the mysterious “mcguffin” around which the book’s plot is structured.

Gods of Aberdeen begins with the premise that you cannot go home again. The narrator tells us, “…places never give back what they take.” More colorfully, “Nostalgia becomes a dark lens, the promise of immortality sheds its skin, and you find yourself gliding unseen, under the shadows of the giants of your life, who have grown too tired to take notice.” (Both quotations on p. 4) From that observation, the narrator/protagonist/Eric Dunne takes us through the flashback that leads us lugubriously through his story.

Positioned by the publisher to be something of a Dan Brown-style thriller, the only similarity to The DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons would be the regular use of quotations in foreign (and/or “dead”) languages. Some of these quotations are quite accurate; some are so colloquial that they go further from the literal than I would like. I get it, we wouldn’t say, “Overly great homeliness engenders disparaging” (Over grete homlynesse engendreth dispreisynge) when we can say, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” (p. 29) Yet, I prefer, “Sometimes, good Homer sleeps” (Aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus) to “Even good Homer nods.” (p.140) or “The name is changed but you relate the story” (Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur) to simply “With the name changed the story applies to you.” (p. 141)

My favorite quotation in the book, though, was not presented in the original language, but I enjoyed it anyway. “At the heart of all beauty lies something inhuman.” (Camus, quoted on p. 90) Even so, I found myself disappointed in the working out of the plot. This tale of obsession mixed with intrigue and sprinkled with indifference (on behalf of certain supporting characters) simply didn’t resonate with verisimilitude to me.
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