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Book Review of The Satanic Verses

The Satanic Verses
kayprime avatar reviewed on + 38 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2

The premise of this book is solid and the story's beginning is powerful. (Opening line: "To be born again," sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, "first you have to die...") The imaginative approach to the battle of good and evil is done from an unconventional viewpoint that can never be explored thoroughly enough. Rushdie's writing is superb and his portrayal of Islamic belief and Indian culture gives the book an intimate and authentic voice.

For all of it's attributes and the high expectations I had for a book that illicited a religious edict ordering the author's death, ultimately I am disappointed. Although his story is sufficient- above average, even- I wasn't blown away. I was expecting an epic battle (symbolic or otherwise) that blurred the lines of good and evil, exposing the gray areas. Instead, aside from Farishta's incarnation in Jahilia with the prophet Mahound (which incited the rage of the ayatollah), there aren't very many compelling depictions of the ambiguous nature of good and evil.

Secondly, the constant back-and-forth of the past and present lives of our main characters is too disorienting. Unless you're good at keeping several characters with more than one simultaneous role in order (which I am not any good at without a character map), it's easy to confuse the significance of a past life within the context of the present one.

Overall, I was able to appreciate what Rushdie delivered and along the way I've learned that political/religious controversy doesn't always guarantee a 5-star book, and excellent prose doesn't necessarily translate into a 5-star story.