Hyperbole? Probably. What's a blog post without a little hyperbole? [seriously. this is the internet, after all.]
The book is the last of three by the same author; the first book in the series is likely the #1 Most Terrifying Book on the Planet, but this is not about that book, because I didn't just read that one, and I did just read the third one.
The book is House of Gold by Bud Macfarlane, Jr. The guy writes Catholic fantasy novels re: the end of the world as we know it, essentially, and this particular one includes Y2k as the central plot device. I'm not going to mock him for writing in 1999 what a lot of people were thinking in 1999, so don't think this is a run-down of Y2k and why it turned out to be barely anything at all, because this is 2012 and we all know that already.
The book is, as you might expect, full of misogyny, racism, and Christian supremacy. This is also not a run-down of those things, because 1) unpacking the entire book would take a while, and I have a life, and 2) who fucking cares.
I also found several glaring errors one would not expect in a published and therefore presumably copy-edited work; one was a plot inconsistency involving a character knowing a thing he couldn't possibly have known under the circumstances, said thing being known by said character only somewhat necessary to move the plot along, and therefore unclear as to why error occurred. Another revealed the author's apparently dubious knowledge of non-computerized objects in relation to a computer bug--namely, the assumption that said objects would cease to function after the grid collapsed despite functioning in a primarily chemical and biological manner*.
BUT. None of that is the reason for this post.
I first read this book around 2002 or so, when I was still into Jesus and being Catholic and all of that. Reading it now, I am struck by how perfectly it illustrates my reasons for abandoning Catholicism. And so read on, if you care to know those reasons.
1. As a woman, I'm clearly not a woman at all, but a girl.
The author continually refers to a primary character as a "smart girl".
The woman is in her late 30s and has survived societal upheaval, killer flu, and gun-wielding marauders; she later keeps herself and a baby that isn't hers alive in the middle of the forest without any help whatsoever. And let's not forget the decades of longing for the fertility her god denied her [for no practical reason apart from "suffering"--except perhaps to instill in her a starved maternal instinct that will latch onto Baby Grace when her mother dies, in order to keep the baby alive until her father shows up to start the Buzz-loves-Ellie line of asshats.], and the way she stayed faithful to her god and husband and son through it all, rather like Job, amirite? One might think she's a strong, resilient woman, perhaps?
Nope!--she is just a girl. Her 10-year-old son becomes a heroic man in an instant, by needlessly throwing himself in front of a gun to save the mother he should have been with all along, had he not stopped to put on his goddamn pants. His mother is just a smart girl.
What does a Catholic female have to do in order to be considered a woman?
2. Free will, or lack thereof.
Speaking of Baby Grace, she exists only to further god's grand scheme. She is a tool used to murder her mother and coerce her father into falling in love with his best friend's widow--and is then neatly disposed of via the killer [and probably painful] flu once god's objectives are achieved and her half-Mel life needs to go away so babies can be made that are half-Buzz and half-Ellie.
The child exists despite her parents' rational and prudent decision to avoid pregnancy during total societal collapse, a goal they attempted to achieve through the Catholic-approved method of Natural Family Planning. But she came anyway. Because god doesn't give a shit about your prudence and/or desire to live through societal upheaval and/or not bring a baby into the world during societal upheaval because FUTURE BABIES MUST BE MADE.
Baby Grace dies as a toddler, for NO REASON. She is brought into the world in a terrible time and taken away from it in a terrible way in order to serve god's purposes. This is a loving god? This is a god who ostensibly cares about me and wants me to be happy or shit like that? A god who would create me for a specific reason, then kill me when he was done? Really?
I can't even.
Stay tuned for Part II, in which I (more succinctly) explain why these books are terrifying!
*This one bugs me enough to further explain, so I will. After the collapse, two characters are hiking from Ohio to New Hampshire, and one of them says the other how the collapse is the answer to the prayers of pro-lifers worldwide, because (paraphrase) "400,000 abortions were performed every year before the collapse, with countless more lives lost to the Pill and the IUD. When the mainframe went down, that all immediately stopped." Yes, abortions performed in clinics would indeed cease under the circumstances, but, ignoring the faulty assumption that the Pill and the IUD cause "countless abortions" (ProTip: it's not generally how they work), the collapse of the grid would in no way cause, for example, a chunk of copper floating in my uterus to stop doing its job. It doesn't have a computer chip in it; it has no moving parts; it's not a fucking abortion machine. It's a hunk of copper. It's going to keep working whether the lights are on or not. Sorry, Bud.