When I originally picked up The Lost Goddess at the library, I was intrigued by the jacket cover synopsis/hook. It did its job most excellently. When I began reading the book I was beginning to wonder if I had a dud. Although the writing is exceptionally well done, I kept expecting something different. In all honesty, the excellence of the writing is what kept me reading this book. I was amazed at how the words kept flowing and moving forward and the descriptions my eyes read and my mind saw were wonderful creations of an excellent story-teller.
This book is one I struggled to read because I had preconceived notions of what it was about. Once I let those conceptions go I finally was able to enjoy the book completely, and I am SO glad I did! The ending was nothing like I expected. The entire book wasn’t what I was expecting or anticipating! For the first time in quite a while I read a book that was a challenge. It made me think. It made me glad I read through to the end.
In the library this book was listed as a thriller. Because I saw the “thriller” label I was expecting something like Michael Crichton. This book was a puzzle solved through the characters and their experiences, which means I didn’t solve it at all. When the ending came I smiled. I was entertained and my intellect was actually stretched and encouraged. This book is indeed a thriller, but not by what the modern sense it has come to be understood by: This is a thriller of the old school variety where there is action, danger, puzzles, and something is truly enlightened at the very end bringing all the elements of the story together. Not one single thread was left dangling.
Instead of being about a goddess who comes into reality we have a killer who is killing the people who destroyed her as a person, as what she could have been, and it all centers around the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime. And, in the depths of the novel itself, there is a story of what is belief in God, in anything, as well as the guilt, or conscience of humanity as a whole. This novel takes an in-depth look at the mapping of the human brain and if it is possible to remove the section of the brain that has to do with belief and religion, and what would happen if this section of the brain was removed. The hypothesis is that without belief there is not an understanding of love and beauty. One character, a scientist and former Marxist who experimented on human subjects says it like this, as he is trying to reverse the procedure, or part of the procedure:
“Because I kept convincing myself . . . against the growing evidence [i.e. he kept on performing the experimental surgeries, my note, not the author’s]. After all, there are so many good, solid, Darwinian explanations for why religious faith has evolved. And yet I also had evidence of the necessity of faith. People who have faith are healthier, happier, they live longer, they even have stronger immune systems. This is scientific f act. So I became . . . very confused. . . . Then, one day, quite recently, I discovered another very curious fact during my research. It’s Parkinson’s disease. People who have Parkinson’s, even the mildest form . . . are less likely to be believers.
“It is therefore at least arguable that atheism is a form of dementia. Imagine that! Atheism is a kind of psychosis, a mental illness. The healthy mind is, very, very truly, a mind that believes.”
One of the characters, Jake, is convinced his soul has been removed because this procedure was performed on him and the before and after are quite surprising. All he has left is logic and thought. He can see beauty but not appreciate it; he is free from guilt because he feels nothing. Jake is in torment because everything is too clean and logical. Before this procedure he was a photographer capturing beautiful images that made him happy as well as the rest of the world. Jake concluded on his own there cannot be beauty from a completely logical stand – there must be emotion as well, and a soul to appreciate and put it all together.
The Lost Goddess isn’t about religion, but it is about faith and belief and the human creature and one heck of an adventure getting to the heart of what is going on and then to the conclusion and truth of what matters most to the people in this story, and on a grander scale – to each human. This is a very time-worthy novel because of so much disbelief in the world today as well as the belief that still exists though governmental entities and philosophies have tried several times to break the belief systems of their people.
This novel is intelligent and extremely well-written. It was a wonderful breath of fresh air for me in the reading world.
I encourage you to read this book and think. Tom Knox keeps the adventure going so the intellectual aspects don’t make it boring. Just don’t do like I did and have a preconceived notion of what the book is about. Enjoy it for yourselves from word one.