If God were a scientist: a review of Prophet of Bones

Prophet of BonesWith the debate over gay marriage raging in the news lately, Prophet of Bones (out tomorrow) fits right in.

OK, so this new book isn’t about homosexuality. At all. But it is about a coming together of religion and science, which is the kind of open-mindedness we need to be more receptive to. In other words, you could believe this and I could believe that, and it would be ALL RIGHT. The world wouldn’t end.

Prophet of Bones by Ted Kosmatka — who, as it happens, is a very talented writer at video game company Valve (and if you’re not a gamer, please don’t let that affiliation negatively sway your decision to read this book) — isn’t about a doomsday event, either. But it is about the creation of Earth and answering crazy questions like, what if God made two Adams?, and, what if Darwin is totally wrong and we’re all the product of intelligent design?

Basically, it’s about a scientist’s discovery of a divergent human species — one that came into existence at the same time as our ancestors but isn’t a part of the same family tree. Their very bones reveal the truth that God was, well, playing “god” with his favorite creatures: mankind.

So, we’re not special. Not like we think.

Prophet of Bones — an extension of the short story “The Prophet of Flores” — is a beautifully and crisply written novel. Kosmatka’s use of language is admirable on its own, whether or not you care for the story (although I’m sure you will). It’s got a lot of cool/nerdy science stuff in it, along with conspiracy and murder — you know, the standard ingredients for a good thriller. And some sex. You can’t be a science action hero and not get the girl, even if she’s of questionable character.

I didn’t want to put this book down. That doesn’t happen to me very often. If Kosmatka writes another book, I’ll buy it. In fact, I’m going to have to track down his prior release, The Games. (He’s also working on a new novel — a continuation of his early novelette “Divining Light,” and the theme is once again “scientists in trouble.”)

The author sews an alternate history into the story with a fine hand, and readers have to do some interpreting — it’s not all spelled out for you even if the words are clearly typed on the page. Kosmatka doesn’t assume you’re stupid, but he does approach the science talk in a way that’s very accessible. It sounds like the stuff of doctorates without requiring you to have one to understand it.

Some of the most interesting observations from this book come from its questioning of what the world would look like without religion — if evolutionist theory totally won out, leaving no room for God. Would it be a better world or a chaotic one? That’s a discussion worth having outside of this book although I didn’t expect the characters’ conversation about it to go the way it did. (If you get the book, check around page 158 to see what I mean — once you get that far, of course.)

The only aspect about Prophet of Bones that I disliked was the supernatural elements, however minor they are overall. Kosmatka adds in some super-strong/intelligent dark creatures, and their presence just feels forced and too unreal for a book so grounded in science. Even though it fit with the intelligent designer/playing god ideas, I couldn’t get into it.

But do yourself a big favor and read the novel anyway.

Bottom line: Bones as a metaphor. Science gets cooler.

What I liked: Ninety percent of it.

What I wasn’t expecting: The goofy sci-fi monsters.

Grade: A

This book was provided by the publisher for honest review.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s