Usually when I pick up a book to read, I can guess where the story is headed based on reading the book blurb. So setting out on this adventure I was relatively sure I knew where we were headed, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. (Not that that’s a bad thing. Quite the opposite, in fact).
The beginning of Caffeine reminded me of the movie Vanilla Sky. Remember that one? You couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t. While Vanilla Sky annoyed me quite a bit, this book did not–once I figured out what was going on.
Further into Caffeine, I noticed quite a bit of influence from The Matrix. There’s an alternate reality place where people can go in Caffeine–a virtual reality world called Dynamic Reality (DR). There are other similarities I noticed as well, but I’m going to let you find those for yourself.
One of the characters reminded me of Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Poor Data, always trying to figure out what it means to be human, but never really succeeding. However, just being the way he was, he was a better human than many of us.
There was even a character in the book that I got attached to and like the toys in the Toy Story movies, you start to look at funny and wonder if that have feelings. Let’s just say I’ve never felt bad for a computer virus before…
To add one more, just to spice up the pot a bit more, there were interludes between each chapter where the main character, Brandon, speaks philosophically/theologically. It reminded me of the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (think I had to read that one in a College philosophy class once).
So what do you get when you put all these pieces together? A really good, complex book. And a rather profound one too if you’re searching for the meaning of life. Which brings us to…
Theology: Nothing New Under the Sun
Much of the theology in this book is borrowed from Ecclesiastes. The two main characters in the book, Brandon and Aether, are both searching for the meaning of life, a reason for their existence. Brandon has been trying to fill the void in his soul by taking trips to Dynamic Reality where he can escape life. Aether teams up with Brandon, but her approach is more systematic. She searches for the meaning of life but analyzing large amount of data and observing humans in DR. Do they come to the same conclusion “the Teacher” in Ecclesiastes did? You’ll have to read the book and decide for yourself.
13 That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. 14 God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad. ~ Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, NLT
What is presented in the second half of the book is a very nice apologetic on Christianity–on creationism vs. evolution, on Christianity vs. other world religions, on the hypocrisy of Christians, on the benevolence of God. The power in the book comes from looking for and finding forgiveness and the true meaning of life.
No sex, no drinking/drugs (besides a dependence on a caffeinated drink called PJX), no gratuitous violence. The book is clean, and very intellectual. While young adults could certainly read it, it would take a certain maturity to read it and get it.
Social Issues: Identity
Who are you? Why are you here? How should you act? What is good? These are more theological issues than social issues, but it seems like finding our identity is integral to how we get along with others.
I finished this book with an uplifted/triumphant feeling. I don’t get that with many books, but I did get it with this one. Very nicely done, Mr. Grabow.
What about you? Have you read this book? Did it remind you of any movies or other books?