3 out of 4 stars
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The Temporal Lens is a highly advanced artificial intelligence. If a machine can be distressed, this is the case. The timeline has forked; the creators have gone silent. The dislocation occurred when it had taken the two young Christians back in time to observe Constantine’s pivotal battle between the followers of Isis and those of Christ. Because of their interactions there, the timeline has been rewritten. Jesus is just a footnote in history. The citizens of this ‘alternate earth’ worship the Goddess Isis. Thus, its creators, direct descendants of Constantine’s Christians, were never born. (Yes, I'm aware of the circular paradox. Thank you.) The Lens calculates these events to be unacceptable. Christianity must rise again to enable the creators’ return.
The male youth, Alister, a fervent believer in the power and vengeance of his God, is desperate to spread the word of his Messiah in what he perceives to be a godless world. Allison, the female youth, prefers instead to focus on the fabled love and gentle forgiveness of this selfsame Jesus. Despite their differing beliefs, with its ‘guidance,’ and access to its power, the youths Alister and Allison could facilitate the restoration of the Christian faith on the planet below. The device determines to provide anything necessary to achieve this end.
There is one factor, however, that it fails to include in its calculations. The Priestesses of Isis below will not give up their reality so easily, and they have abilities unknown to humans in the original timeline. Is their power a match for that of the Temporal Lens, a device constructed by humanity centuries in the ‘correct’ future? Only time will tell.
Alternate timelines, the butterfly effect, how is the ‘true’ reality determined? What makes one timeline more valid than another? Who is to say which one is the ‘correct’ path of history? Its citizens? Their deity? Reality is subjective. This is only one of the philosophical questions you will find within the pages of this book.
Looking at the cover, The Wrath of Isis: Chronicles of the Temporal Lens by Michael Zuniga appears to be a pretty run-of-the-mill Young Adult (YA) novel. Not to be trite, but never judge a book by its cover. This book is not YA suitable. Period. Stated politely, it contains scenes having considerably more than full-frontal nudity. If that offends you, steer clear of this book.
Still there? Alright, “Further up and further in!” (A virtual cookie to anyone who can tell me what book that quote comes from!) I enjoyed reading The Wrath of Isis. Although the concept of a rogue AI is not new, Zuniga has given it distinct twists to make the story unique. The storyline is well-executed, with pacing that does not drag and keeps the reader interested. The dialogue is credible, and the action realistic enough to sustain belief. Also, the author has woven several philosophical questions into the story for the reader to ponder. However, if you are not one whose mind is open to even a light examination of the Christian faith vs. pagan beliefs/religion (specifically, the followers of Isis), you might want to avoid this book. By the time I reached the end, I was taking a good hard look at my beliefs and values (both spiritual and otherwise), as well as the various constructs of religion and societal values that exist today.
The story is mostly set in our present day. Unfortunately for our protagonists, there is one bothersome catch. It’s not their reality. A new, self-sustaining world that diverges from their timeline has been created. The characters’ reactions and distress at this turn of events are highly relatable. Think about it. How would you react if you were thrown into a world that was familiar yet alien as well? What would you do? I’m betting there are hundreds of different answers to that question. Similarly, Alister and Allison react and subsequently act in differing ways.
World development is somewhat shallow, but I believe that is by intent. Zuniga focuses instead on guiding the reader to experience the protagonist’s thoughts, emotions, actions, and reactions in their new reality. The reader is given just enough background on each character (including major side characters) to ‘get a feel’ for them, so what they do and say is convincing.
Major grammatical mistakes were minimal. I found perhaps a handful throughout the book. However, very few pages did not have a comma error of some sort. Beyond that, I had only one real problem. To a man, the male characters were ridiculously susceptible to seduction. Even the male protagonist, portrayed as a prudish and overly pious fundamental Christian, was not unaffected by this phenomenon! Self-control? There is not a shred to be found.
Given the reasons stated above, I reluctantly give The Wrath of Isis: From the Chronicles of the Temporal Lens, 3 out of 4 stars. Why so reluctant? The only reason I docked that star was because of the unfortunate punctuation errors. I would have loved to give the book full stars. Because of the sexual content, I cannot recommend it for youth. Otherwise, if you enjoy time-travel and alternate reality sci-fi, especially with a philosophical bent, you should love this book. Now, say it with me, all reality is subjective. Wait. Was that bookcase there before?
The Wrath of Isis
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