Release date: UK 2008
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.