Thursday, April 10, 2014

REVIEW: "Leviticus" by Daniel Seltzer (Fire and Ice Blog Tours)

Science has created a world where anything is possible and everything is affordable.

A world where illness and disease have been eradicated.

What if you could be young forever?

What if you didn't want to?

Levi Clayton Furstman's decision not to be inoculated with technology designed to bestow youth and immortality leads him on a journey that forces him to reexamine his relationships, his purpose in life, and, ultimately, what it means to be human.

Genres: Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Futuristic, Nanotechnology


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daniel Seltzer
Daniel Seltzer holds a J.D. degree and a BA in English. He also holds an MA in Bioethics and previously worked at a major university researching the ethical, legal and social implications (“ELSI”) of nanotechnology. It was while working there that the idea for this story first took shape.


I received an ARC of this book in return for a fair and honest review.  Such follows: 

We are witnessing technological advances in the First World that would boggle the mind were they seen by individuals from even 100 years ago.  Microwaves, “moving pictures” in 3D, computers, little computers that have a phone capability (what my hubby calls smart phones), etc.  Anthropologists have argued that youth today in First World countries are so different from their grandparents, and even their parents, that anthropologically speaking, they can be considered members of different cultures….and there is one main reason: technology.  How far is too far for technological advances?


In this book, Seltzer explores the ramifications of living in a society that truly mirrors something we’d see in Star Trek – replicators, nanobots, technological advances to the point that aging has become a moot point…at least in the U.S.  Clay Furstman is a man who deeply questions technological advances that most others around him seem so enthralled by…especially when first any books other than math and science disappear, and then all books disappear.  Technology rules the day, but only in the U.S.  

Beginning with a disturbing flashback from our own history (and one that I remember unfolding on the news), this work plows ahead decades to a dystopian paradisiac future where Apple has basically taken over society with one technological advancement after the next.  One advancement in particular practically ends poverty, crime, social injustice, etc....but was it worth it?  Seltzer here wrestles with questions regarding the loss of humanity in the face of technological advances that force Clay, the main character, to struggle with mortality, faith, and humanity.  

Though this read is super relevant in today's day and age, especially as we witness the hub bub every time a new iPhone comes out, it was not one of my favorite recent reads.  A superb plot, interesting characters....and yet it was not as approachable and engaging as I typically like.  That being said, my philosophy major husband would love this book if he read fiction.

On an ascending scale of 1 to 5, I give this book a 3.

The Good
Apple.  Google.  We all know they're going to take over the world eventually.

Okay, so maybe I type that with tongue firmly planted in cheek....but what if it were true?

What if you could have a chip embedded in your head that read notifications, news, and such to you on a regular basis?  That blurted out the time if you even wondered what time it was?  That recognized everyone you passed by so long as they had a chip as well?

What if you had a device that was very much like replicators from Star Trek?  What if nanobots somehow meant that you could live in the prime of your life for the indefinite future?

What if you didn't want any of it?

Clay, the main character, lives in a world where he is the odd guy out.  Everyone around him is loving the new technology that unfolds every so often (almost everyone, at least).  He is suspicious, especially when he notices that books are becoming harder and harder to come by...unless they are math and science books.  "News" contains stuff about celebrities and entertainment, and that's about it....real content is eschewed.  Everyone takes advantage of the technology available....but what if doing so robs someone of something that essentially defines them as human?  Clay, as someone who is deeply skeptical, is a deep thinker.  He ponders.  He's read extensively.  He's not convinced technology is all it is cracked up to be.  Rather, he's kind of certain that technology spells the doom of mankind....or at least of humanity.

Seltzer here examines hard, philosophical questions regarding where our technology is headed.  Now, I don't think the technology he talks about is quite realistic (I don't know much about physics, but I'm 90% sure the physics behind some of the things here don't quite work), but nevertheless he brings up superb questions about our use of technology, ethical and moral implications, nationalism, social structures, etc.

On some level, I think we are all counting on technology to be our modern day messiah, to save us from ourselves.  Yet there are individuals who are deeply skeptical of technology. Yes and?  Both or? How many people ponder about how technology is robbing us of some spark of humanity even as we march ever onward towards the dawn of some sort of paradisiac future (at least in theory)?

Just today and older gentleman told me that his generation reads, while my generation doesn't so much.  Is he wrong?

In this book, we find a future that is paradisiac, yes, but also rather dystopian.  What freedoms are you willing to forego in the name of technological advancement that could spell immortality (in a sense)?  What sinister forces are in play behind technological advances?  What will our great grandchildren be furious at us for missing?

Seltzer has creating a superb work that really forces readers to ponder this question: is technology worth it?

The Bugly (bad/ugly)
Now, you may be tempted to think there is something inherently wrong with this book because I gave it a 3 instead of a 5.  Not so.  It is well-written, well-thought through, internally coherent AND consistent.  So what's the problem?

1) Characters sound like each other.  My number one pet peeve (well, at least one of my top 3) came to light here as everyone sounded like everyone else as they spoke.  Not what they said, but how it was framed.  Obviously some of the power-hungry individuals spoke different words than others, but the flow of speech for all was the same.  bleh.

2) This is a deeply philosophical, deep thinking kind of book.  Now, I enjoy some of these works...but here it was just too much.  I don't expect page long paragraphs in a fiction book.  Now, this simply speaks more to my preferences than to anything inherently wrong with the book itself.  It's perfectly fine for this kind of discourse and such to be in a fiction book.  For some reason it just felt a bit over the top for me.  That being said, if I could convince my husband to read fiction, I'd have him read this.  He's a deep thinking, highly philosophical type and this would be just his cup of tea.

3)  As a deep thinking kind of book, I didn't find it very accessible.  Now, again, this points to my preferences rather than something that is wrong with the book.  Classics are not always very accessible (have you tried reading Robinson Crusoe?  I couldn't even finish that one.).  I just had a hard time dealing with it here.

4) For the sake of making a point, Seltzer ignored the laws of physics.  I grumble a little at this, but not too much bec/ I'm pretty much a wannabe Trekie.

Don't let my nit picking on style detract from your desire to read this book - it is pretty good.  Just not really my cup of tea.  No author is going to be every reader's cup of tea, that's just a fact.

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