Hot on the heels of FATHERLESS is CHILDLESS, the greatly anticipated second book in the dystopian series by Dr. James Dobson and Kurt Bruner.
It’s 2042, and society has morphed into one that considers the elderly and children to be more of a curse than a blessing. Couples are avoiding marriage in lieu of living together, and women are much more career-centered than family-focused. Those who do choose to have babies are opting for test-tube pregnancies so they can “create” designer-like babies with features they want, rather than take their chances on potential complications --- and disappointments --- that might come with natural conception. Aging parents are considered a financial and time-consuming burden and encouraged to “transition” (the glorified term for voluntary euthanasia) for the sake of their families.
The CHILDLESS storyline centers on a court case involving the “transition” of a mother and her disabled son. Three judges will decide the outcome, and the deciding vote ultimately comes down to Judge Victor Santiago, who refuses to even hint of his views about the topic ahead of the ruling. But somebody has a vested interest in how the judge rules and is determined to see that it goes his or her way. So begin the threatening letters, imploring Judge Santiago to carefully consider his decision to avoid deadly consequences. The writer demands that the judge respond to an anonymous online chat room to reveal his upcoming vote, signing his letters “A. Manichean.”
"CHILDLESS is a thought-provoking novel with a heavy message that on the one hand seems far-fetched, but on the other seems all too plausible."
Former detective-turned-private-investigator Tyler Cain is brought in to figure out who is sending the letters. Hoping this case will boost his reputation and his bank account, Tyler digs in, enlisting some help from journalist Julia Davidson, who is newly married and currently torn between her career and giving her husband the child he wants.
Now it’s a race against time to uncover the person behind the alias A. Manichean and stop a potential killer before he follows through on his threats.
CHILDLESS is a thought-provoking novel with a heavy message that on the one hand seems far-fetched, but on the other seems all too plausible. When you take a look back at how quickly society has twisted its views to a more “Godless” mentality, with less and less appreciation for the sanctity and value of human life, it paints a chilling picture of what the future could look like.
Interestingly, A Manichean is taken from the Gnostic religion Manichaeism, which teaches about the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness. It focuses on the fact that there is an ongoing process of removing the “light” from the earth and returning it to the place of “light” that it came from, resulting in a darker and darker world. The ever-growing darkness of this world is exactly what CHILDLESS explores, only from a Christian perspective, of course. It is done in a profound and realistic way that not only alerts the reader of the slippery downward spiral we’re on, but also prompts the question of what to do about it.
Several characters and points of view are featured, each bringing a unique element to the story. I did not personally read FATHERLESS, but because some of the characters were apparently introduced in the first book, I would like to go back and see how they have evolved. Bruner and Dr. Dobson are excellent storytellers, and the writing style is easy and down-to-earth, each scene flowing smoothly into the next. The characters and their struggles seemed authentic. That, along with a compelling plot, creates an overall entertaining read.
If you enjoy futuristic fiction that offers a healthy dose of food for thought, this book will not disappoint. GODLESS, the third and final book in the series, is due to be released in May.
Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on February 19, 2014