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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 42/100: Iscariot by Tosca Lee

Iscariot - Tosca Lee

As retellings go, this one just didn't do much for me.

At first I thought I was a little bored because I was just waiting for Jesus to come into the story -- if anyone can make a book interesting, Jesus can, right? But even after Jesus came on the scene, I found my mind wandering often enough that I had to keep starting tracks over to figure out where I was in the story.

The passion story is inherently interesting, but I felt like this rendition didn't really bring anything NEW to the table. In many ways, it felt like a more in-depth jaunt through Jesus' "greatest hits" as the author strung filler between big events from the Gospels such as healings or Jesus' most salient teachings. While telling the story from Judas' point of view may seem in itself transgressive, ultimately everything about this story feels too "safe" -- there is nothing surprising or unexpected in the character of Jesus; Judas is absolved/redeemed in a way that waters down even his betrayal; and none of the other apostles are given enough character development to make them feel any more real than the canon has already made them.

This book did have its moments of inspiration. The writing is good and the author seems to be well-versed in the political, cultural, historical, and geographical setting. And the story is strongest in Judas's moments of doubt, when he wonders whether he follows a Messiah or a madman, when he doubts Jesus' sanity or his ability to lead, when he struggles internally with the implications of his devotion. But ultimately, the story never goes quite far enough to make a lasting impact or to cast a well-known tale in a new light.