Review

Electric God

by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Hayden Reese is 50 years old and, in the course of one
particularly bad day, he meets up with death in several forms ---
the death of a beloved animal, the death of a relationship, his
present, and then his past. But is his heart really the thing that
has taken the most blows, facing a spiritual death itself? That's
the question Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of PAY IT FORWARD, poses
in ELECTRIC GOD, her latest Hallmark card of a novel.
Hayden, like lots of other American men, sailed the bumpy seas
of childhood with his emotions latched away deep inside of him ---
only now he finds them pouring out at the slightest provocation and
when completely inappropriate. The journey to his heart opening is
the thrust of this mid-list offering.
ELECTRIC GOD tells self-destructing Hayden's story in
easy-to-follow flashbacks. A nasty dad and a wimpy mom have left
their marks on the boy who goes to Sunday School and learns the
real lessons of life --- the biblical stories of Job and Jonah
become his cautionary tales. When his brother, his father's fave,
dies in a crazy accident, Hayden decides that he could have kept
the tragedy from occurring if he had been with his brother,
watching, protecting. He later loses a son, as if in reparations
for his brother's death. Hayden isn't exactly living "the life," if
you know what I mean.
The
mud keeps getting thicker and thicker, and Hayden gives so much of
himself through acts of rage that he lands himself the unfortunate
reputation of jail-worthy loser. If you're familiar with the story
of Job, you may find this entertaining, but a protagonist this
destructive to himself and others is a hard fish to land. Ryan Hyde
uses all her narrative powers to unleash the cat inside this tiger
but, ultimately, doesn't do so; it is hard to align yourself with a
character like Hayden who just never learns from his previous
mistakes. I know this is the point of the story but I found myself
wanting to call him a therapist or send him money so he could go
live in the Himalayas with some monks and try to find some rest and
happiness.
ELECTRIC GOD is a fast read and fairly entertaining; but it is
filled with the kind of misguided pathos that will leave you a
little upset and angry at Hayden for not learning, as if he were
some failed Pinocchio, how to be a real adult.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 21, 2011

Electric God
by Catherine Ryan Hyde

  • Publication Date: November 3, 2000
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 0743211189
  • ISBN-13: 9780743211185