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Monday, 25 January 2010

Review: Bad Faith

Author: Gillian Philip
Release date: UK 2008
Genre: Dystopia
Target audience: 13+

Summary from Amazon:
MURDEROUSLY SINISTER DYSTOPIAN SATIRE. Life's easy for Cassandra. The privileged daughter of a cleric, she's been protected from the extremist gangs who enfore the One Church's will. Her boyfriend Ming is a bad influence, fo course, with infidel parents who are constantly in trouble with the religious authorities. But Cass has no intention of letting their different backgrounds drive them apart. Then they stumble across a corpse. Who killed him? How did his body end up in their secret childhood haunt? And is this man's death connected to other, older murders? As the political atmosphere grows feverish, Cass realises she and Ming face extreme danger.

Bad Faith is an interesting title for a book. Before I had even started reading I was asking myself: "Can faith ever be a bad thing?" We all need to have faith in ourselves to reach our potential. We all need to have faith in the goodness of humanity. We put our faith in people everyday to achieve the smallest of things and the biggest of things. I guess my answer was No. Faith cannot be a bad thing. Now I've read Bad Faith. I guess you want to know if I believe there is such a thing as bad faith. Honestly? I don't know. In the context of this book my interpretation is that it faith is what you make of it. It has the potential for good and bad.

Cass lives in a world not unlike ours. It may even be ours some time in the future. Religious diversity has been eradicated and replaced by the One Church. People of other faiths have been persecuted or fled into exile. In many ways I didn't fully come to understand how this process of rebranding and monopolisation by the One Church took place in Cassandra's world. I think perhaps that is because as the teller of this dark, complex tale Cassandra wasn't sure herself. Atheists and secularists are depised by the general community but below even them in the social hierarcy are the apostates. Those that have lost their faith and face complete and open discrimination by the popular mass. Cassandra's father is a cleric for the One Church and their family appears to be shielded from the dangers of persecution and intimidation. At the beginning of the novel her brother Griffin is more polictically aware and angry about the injustices in their society. Her parents try to encourage him to silence his political voice. Cassandra doesn't understand the mysterious uncurrents running through her home. The novel explores the destruction of her innocence as much as the frightening dystopian landscape in which she lives.

Cassandra's voice immediately pulled me into the story. It was highly engaging and in some ways quite endearing. I connected with her from the very beginning. Throughout the story, she confronts painful truths and seeks to uncover the dark secrets weaving through her family's past. Cass has her own dreadful truth and lies to balance in her mind too. The book is complex both in terms of story and emotion. There were times when I felt physically repelled by the decriptions of corpses but I just had to keep reading. At other times I was on the brink of tears.

The plot like Cassandra's emotions weaves an intricate pattern which does require close attention. But the novel is worth the effort on the part of the reader because I was transported into Cassandra's repulsive world. I felt that I had experienced these events first hand. Philip should be congratulated on her skill at making this story feel so real. At one point in the novel I actually felt like my heart would explode with the twist in the plot. I also loved the fact that the most harrowing parts of the story are followed by tender moments in Cassandra and Ming's relationship. It gave some much needed relief and moments of hope to what could have otherwise been an entirely disturbing novel.

Overall, Bad Faith is one of the most powerful dystopian novels that I have ever read. It challenged me to consider the meaning of faith and all its different forms. I congratulate Philip on a superb ending which completely swept me away. If you love dystopians novels, then this will be a sure-fire hit with you. A complex, compelling and incredibly powerful read.

Thank you to Gillian for sending me this book to review.


Keren David said...

I loved this book - Gillian Philip is such a talented writer and the examination of a country that is recognisably Scotland but taken over by extremists is fascinating and really well done.

Lily said...

I love dystopian themed books so I'll have to check it out. The subject matter looks a bit heavier than the books I normally read, but it sounds really good nonetheless!

prophecygirl said...

I loved this book too. I never thought it was dystopian though... hmm... how did I miss that?

Luisa at Chicklish said...

It sounds fascinating - thank you for the great review! Dystopias are not usually my thing, but I really want to read this!

I Want To Read That said...

Oh Wow - you make this sound amazing! I don't know why but I had never heard of it before but think I will definately have to get myself a copy:)

Jo said...

Awesome review, Becky! Funnily enough, I was told to check out this book yesterday! It sounds so amazing! I can't wait to read it!

Shweta said...

I haven't read this book but I am definitely going to. A 5 starer from you needs to be read.

Becky said...

Keren, I thought it was set in Scotland but I was a little unsure. Thanks for confirming that for me. There were clues in the dialogue!

Shweta, awww...thanks. It is a great book especially for fans of dystopias.

Keren David said...

I used to live in Scotland, so I picked up all the clues. It is never explicitly spelled out though. Later I got to know Gillian and told her that I thought the city was very much like Glasgow, and the tenement scenes reminded me of my old flat in Govanhill. It turned out they were based on her grandmother's flat...in the next street to mine!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Fab review darling!

brizmus said...

I agree that Bad Faith is a very odd name for a book. I kinda like it, though. . .it oddly makes me want to read it and not want to read it at the same time.
It makes me think of having faith in things in which you maybe shouldn't have faith. Like, a very unhealthy relationship, for example.
I can't believe you at one point felt like your heart was going to explode. To me, that's a sign of a good book!
I definitely want to check this one out! Thanks for the great review! :-)

Becky said...

Brizmus, I could barely contain myself at one point. The events took a most shocking twist. I agree the title is one that gets you thinking too.

Keren, ahhhh! What are the chances...happy concidence? You have lived in so many places. It amazes me.

cj'alhafiz said...

i felt in love with the cover!!!
nice review there..........=)

Yunaleska said...

*closes eyes at review*

It's on my TBR pile :)

Elie said...

I have never read a dystopian novel, but this one sounds good. The cover is interesting. I was surprized at how much emotion you seemed to draw from the story. Thanks for the head up.

Gillian Philip said...

Becky, thank you so much for a lovely review! I'm really touched, and delighted that you enjoyed it so much but also that it 'got' to you emotionally. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and review Bad Faith.

And it's absolutely true, Keren placed one of the locations to within twenty-odd metres! (By the way I have just read her 'When I Was Joe' and agree with everything you said about it - it's completely wonderful, breathtaking, and I am dying to read the sequel.)

Keith Charters said...

BAD FAITH completely bowled me over when I first read it. I was on a week-long family holiday but sneak off to bedrooms, bathrooms...whatever it took so that I could continue reading it. I ended up loving it so much that I published it.
And here's some good news for fans of Gillian's writing: watch out for FIREBRAND, book 1 in her new 4-part REBEL ANGELS series. It's being launched at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August 2010 and a sample will be up on the Strident Publishing (www.stridentpublishing.co.uk) website in a couple of months. It's simply wonderful storytelling.
Oh, and about the cover of BAD FAITH. Created by a particularly artistic Waterstone's bookseller who read the plain-cover proof, fell in love with the novel and approached us asking if she could have a crack at creating the final cover. The trees are actually mostly butterflies, with a rabbit, cat, upside down man and hanging arm all thrown in for good measure. If you want a copy of the A3 poster get in touch at keith@stridentpublishing.co.uk and I'll send you one.
Keith Charters, MD, Strident Publishing

Sarah said...

Wow - great review! I'll have to check this one out :o)

Lea said...

Wow! Awesome review Becky! It's definitely a plus when you enjoy the main characters voice.

This one's totally on my TBR list now.

Nicky (Absolute Vanilla) said...

I finished Bad Faith on Sunday - it's a brilliant novel - strong, engaging voice and I love it that Gillian is not afraid to tackle tough issues and really get into emotional depths.
Great review!

Lauren said...

This sounds utterly brilliant! I like a dystopia anyway, but I'm also intrigued that you had such a strong emotional reaction to this one. I'll definitely be checking it out.

Bill Kirton said...

Just wanted to add my voice to the general chorus. Great book from a hugely talented, very funny, intelligent writer. This book and 'Crossing the Line' are only the beginning for her.

Sarah said...

I've left you an award at my blog :o)

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Excellent - and very well deserved. Can't wait for Rebel Angels though!!!

Bethany Wiggins said...

Sounds awesome--I am way into dystopian right now. I love your blog, BTW. Am new here.

Becky said...

Hi Bethany and welcome to The Bookette. It always nice to meet new people on the blog and find out what they like to read. Hope I can to hear more from you.

Gillian, it was an absolute pleasure to review your book. I'm honoured that you asked me to, I felt so flattered. And Keith's news is very exciting. Firebrand sounds like my dream book. I can't wait for August.

Keith, thanks so much for stopping by. It was fascinating to hear about the cover and it is so great that as a publisher you value Gillian's work.

Bill, I cannot wait to read Crossing the Line. I feel so lucky that Gillian sent me that too.

Lauren, you will love this book, I'm sure.

Thanks to everyone who commented.

Emily said...

Your review was so intriguing and really got me interested in reading the book. I haven't heard of this title before but I'm adding it to my TBR pile now. Great review!