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The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand

The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand - Gregory Galloway The Good
  1. The writing. This book's prose is very poetic. Adam's musings about life, death, and the people around him are enlightening and insightful. I love books like this that hold a mirror up to your own life and the people in it, forcing you to see things from an entirely different perspective.
  2. The questions. Adam brings up many interesting questions that stick with you long after the book is finished. Is one life more valuable than another? How can we know that? Why do bad things happen to good, innocent people? What really happens when we die? Is suicide a selfish act? Is it really anyone's business, even if it is? Should we all feel an obligation to keep ourselves alive to appease others, even if we are miserable living? It is amazing the number of thought-provoking points Galloway brings up so effortlessly.
  3. Adam's revelation. This book follows Adam through a journey of self-discovery, and the revelation he reaches at the end of the novel was very satisfying. I liked that not all questions are answered and the reader is left to wonder about many different things, including Adam's fate.

The Bad
  1. The lack of detail. Adam describes his death experiences as "silence" and "peace" and "nothing". While I appreciate what Galloway was trying to illustrate, I would have liked more information, if not about the time when Adam is dead, at least about what happens when he is found. More specifically, I would have really liked some writing from the point of view of those who had to clean up Adam's disfigured, mangled body and carry it to safety. I think including these passages would have better illustrated the implications of Adam's actions and given the novel more depth.
  2. The lack of zealots and scientists. At some point in the story Adam finally gets some media attention, but it was totally unbelievable to me that there would not be more attention paid to someone with his "skill set". If Adam were a real person, every molecule of his body would be poked, prodded, and researched, and religious zealots would surround his house, thinking he is the second coming or the next messiah.

Favorite Quote

"Everybody's got their own disease, I think, but not everyone's got their own cure. I thought I did, but I was wrong."

Overall Rating

4/5 - This book was so insightful and raised a number of really interesting questions. I enjoyed the poetic nature of the writing, but found the lack of media attention a little unbelievable.