By Hari Kunzru
Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95, 369 pages
Gods Without Men is the alternating story of Nicky, a British rock star; Jaz, a mathematician, husband, and father of an autistic child; and Joanie, devoted follower of an alien-cult that loses her child during an alien “visitation”. Each character’s story takes place in a different time period. This book shows how common interest and belief can connect people across time and space.
Author Hari Kunzru is obvious an adept writer. His ability to portray astoundingly real characters is unrivaled by all but a very few writers. It doesn’t take the reader long to move from merely reading this book to feeling like they are sitting in on conversations with these characters. By having such a clear understanding of his characters and how they would react and respond, the reader is easily able to follow the story and keep up with the many jumps in time.
Although his characters are perfectly crafted, the story never really starts. It is near the middle of the book before any actual plot is put forth, and several dozen pages after that before the story really starts to get good. Although this book is meant to be read as one continuous story, the scope of each chapter, and the disconnectedness makes it read more like a loosely connected collection of short stories.
If you are looking for a book that will make you appreciate how well a character can be crafted, look to Gods Without Men, but if you are looking for something to fun and easy to read, look elsewhere.
Reviewed by Andrew Keyser