Saturday, April 9, 2016

Review: The Stars Never Rise

The Stars Never Rise The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ever wonder what'll happen if religious fascists take over this country? It might look a little something like this book's horrifying post-apocalypse. Here, the Church is empowered to hurt and/or kill anyone who breaks their inhumanly strict rules, like the second coming of the Spanish Inquisition. But unlike the real-life Salem, where I'm inclined to believe the theory that all the witch hunts were the result of the Puritans repressing the people's sexuality and leading to serious psychological trauma, Rachel Vincent's story world plays out a little more like the WGN series version of Salem, where the demonic threat is all too real.

Naturally, though, the Church in this book isn't interested in helping teach people to recognize the truth about demonic degenerates, or how to fight them - which would be quite a useful skill, no? Instead, the Church is corrupt and false and determined to maintain their controlling stranglehold on society, even at the cost of the people's lives. They have too much fun staging public exorcisms (read: public witch-burnings) for anything they can pass off as a sign of "possession." Many of these, of course, are "offenses" of a sexual nature. This includes the "crime" of teen pregnancy, which is the impetus of our heroine's adventure because it happens to her sister - and from there, all hell proceeds to break loose. They say that abstinence-only programs backfire because they fail to teach teens about safe sex - maybe that was Vincent's inspiration there?

I mostly loved this book because of its unflinching depiction of a religious institution that exists only to hold people back - something that, as a recovering Catholic, I have little trouble identifying with. But I believe that rather than function as a general condemnation of religion, The Stars Never Rise instead attacks the idea of people in power using religion to hurt their fellow man and woman. I'm pretty big on this idea because I believe very strongly in freedom of love.

If I'm "possessed" for enjoying this book and for having had enough religion to last a lifetime, then may the Church exorcise me and have a five-year-old girl throw the first match on my gasoline-soaked body.

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