The Last Christian, the latest from author David Gregory, is a story about a brave new world so overrun by technology that people have lost their connection to God. In fact, by 2088, Christianity is viewed by most Americans as an antiquated religion based on superstition. The remaining Christians are called “religionists” and treated as radicals. Humans interact widely in virtual reality (VR) using neural implants surgically inserted into their brains. Sound complicated? It is.
As the first trans-human is unveiled, that is, a human who has a biological body and a silicon brain, 34 year-old Abby Caldwell emerges from the Papua New Guinea jungles for the first time in her life. Raised by Christian missionaries in a tribe closed off from the rest of civilization, Abby seeks medical attention as her entire tribe falls victim to a deadly illness. Now homeless, Abby engages on a journey of her own to the United States in hopes of sharing the gospel with the deeply irreligious nation.
During her journeys, Abby meets up with several characters—both good and evil who help her on her quest. Most notably, Abby ends up in the arms of college professor, Creighton Daniels, who is the only character to speak in first person, which goes strangely unexplained. Like the other characters in The Last Christian, Abby is an underdeveloped female character, who seems like a “nice gal” that all the male characters want to rescue because “there’s something special about her.” Obviously, Christians are to recognize this as her Christ-likeness.
While the book held my interest, my lack of interest in the characters made me care little about what happened to them. My main interest, besides writing the review, was to examine the underlying message of how technology can erode our minds to the very point in which we can no longer sense God’s presence due to an overload of information. The author’s point, I believe, was to show us that life cannot last forever on this earth, and man’s attempts to achieve immortality are foolish. But the convoluted plot was part thriller, part witnessing tract, part philosophy, and a lesson on using technology wisely. I think there was a bit of romance thrown in there, too. Gregory tries to accomplish too much in one book.
What could have been an excellent book comes up short, though the ethical issues about life and artificial intelligence are quite interesting. Personally, I’d just rather reread Brave New World.
Amy’s Grade: C-
*This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.*