Sunday, November 28, 2010

Book Review: The Less-Dead

The Less-Dead by April Lurie

Noah is 16 and is the son of the Bible Answer Guy, a local evangelical Christian radio personality. Noah has pretty much rejected most of his father's beliefs, although he still goes to church and is in love with the pastor's daughter.  Noah meets Will, another student at his school for troubled kids who shares Noah's interest in music and poetry. Will and Noah quickly become friends even though Will is gay and Noah is straight.

Meanwhile, a serial killer is on the loose and is targeting gay teens.  Noah believes that the killer has been a caller on his dad's program.  After Will becomes the third victim and Noah finds clues written by the killer in Will's journal, Noah decides to investigate and is in danger of becoming a victim himself.

This book is like other books that address homosexuality and religion, such as The God Box by Alex Sanchez (highly recommended) but is different in that it's a murder mystery with a gay character in a supporting role.  Some of the plot elements were pretty far-fetched and the end wasn't too much of a surprise, but the characters were likeable and well-developed.  I finished the book in a few days, and that is usually an indication that I liked it.

I didn't really identify with any of the characters, but I think the book gave a realistic picture of how things are nowadays between straight and gay kids.  We hear alot about bullying, but most kids don't care one way or the other about their friends' sexual preferences.  Noah is a little bit weirded out when he learns Will is gay, and things get awkward when he finds out that Will kind of likes him. Noah regrets that his last interaction with Will was pushing him away.  I like how other characters interact with Will and deal with homosexuality as well.  Noah's conservative dad is a little nervous about Will at first but has a good discussion with him over dinner.  Most of the kids in the church don't care that Will is gay, and the pastor's daughter is instrumental in getting her dad to stop affiliating with a group that tries to change gay people to straight.  The church's youth pastor is also gay-affirming.  This isn't the deepest book in the world, but the characters confront a number of important questions such as what it means to be a Christian, how to confront hate, the nature of faith, and the difference between saying you are gay-friendly and actually having gay friends.

Not as good as Sanchez's The God Box, but a good read nonetheless. 

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