"Pascal's Wager"

Pascal's Wager by Nancy Rue

First of all, I love the cover, with it's metallic sheen and grunge look, and the title "Pascal's Wager". As often happens, the outside promised a little more than it delivered.

The story is based on something said by seventeenth century mathematician Blaise Pascal: "Either God exists, or He does not. But which of the alternatives shall we choose? Reason cannot decide anything. Infinite chaos separates us. At the far end of this infinite distance a coin is being spun, which will come down heads or tails. How will you bet? Reason cannot determine how you will choose, nor can reason defend your position of choice. Let us weigh the consequences involved in calling heads that God exists. If you win, you win everything, but if you lose, you lose nothing. Don't hesitate, then, but take a bet that He exists."

The two main characters are a mathematician and a philosophy professor. The mathematician in trying to sort out her life now that she has to deal with her mother's illness on top of her research, class duties and office hours. The philosophy prof, who has taken the bet that God exists, would like to offer her some answers to the questions she's asking, but mostly ends up irritating her.

She is easily irritated, and quick to strike back. This may be the first novel I've read, written in the first person, in which I don't like the "I" at all. Sarcastic, cynical and cold, there's not much to like. Fortunately we begin to see her character develop early in the book and that makes the reader want to give her a chance, otherwise I might not have read the book at all.

The story contains some action, a bit of comedy and lots of academia, the latter always being an attraction for me. The characters are reasonably believable, the dialogue mostly realistic and it moves along at a good pace with the writing not getting in the way of the story. (Is it sad that I'm using the absence of flaws as a positive point?) As "Christian fiction" it impressed me with it's unusually down-to-earth "God talk". The lack of cliches gives me enough hope for this genre that I'd like to try another of the author's novels to see if it holds up.

I was looking for a quick and easy read, so I enjoyed this. I'd place it somewhere in the vast chasm between literature and fluff. I like literature, but sometimes want more escapism than it provides, and I don't like fluff but read it sometimes because I can't always find something in the middle ground. This one is middle ground, with a decent story line and a realistic look at some of life's bigger issues. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Christian fiction.


Anonymous said...

I found this a rather think-y book :) It is one of Nancy's early adult novels, and I think she is doing nothing but improving.


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