the-book-of-joby-by-mark-j-ferrari

God and Lucifer make a wager, a familiar one made thousands of time in the past. This time, however, the stakes are somewhat higher. If he can get God’s champion, nine year old Joby Peterson, to renounce God, Lucifer will win the right to destroy Earth and remake it as he sees fit.

But as it turns out, Lucifer has his work cut out for him because Joby is a goodhearted boy, popular at school and loved by all. Faced with the obstacles the devil and his minions throw his way, Joby perseveres, drawing strength from his hero, the legendary King Arthur. With the help of his best friend Ben, he establishes his own round table at school made up of fellow classmates willing to follow the chivalric ideal. They help others, perform good deeds, and even invite a girl, Laura, to join their hitherto exclusively male ranks. Though frustrated in his initial attempts to break him, Lucifer proves just as resilient. He chips away at Joby’s relationship with his parents and, as Joby grows into adulthood, even succeeds in undermining his friendship with Ben and Laura.

Battered yet unbeaten, Joby eventually makes his way to Berkley where he becomes an advocate for the homeless. But just when one imagines things couldn’t get any worse for our hero, they do – and he is again hitting the road, this time heading to the town of Taubolt on the California coast.

There, he will find refuge, face Lucifer‘s final gambit, and uncover an astonishing secret about himself.

The Book of Joby is a modern retelling of The Book of Job. Given the premise, I was initially concerned that the narrative would prove too preachy or earnest, however I was pleased to discover a touching and grounded but ultimately uplifting story. Despite the trials and tribulations our hero suffers over the course of this novel, his spirit is never broken and his victory over the forces of darkness is all the more sweet given all he has gone through.

The first part of the book focusing on Joby’s childhood perfectly captured what it was like to be that age, struggling with the seemingly earth-shattering issues of bullying and parental acceptance. Despite the otherworldly implications of the problems Joby encounters, everything in this section rang true for me, from the loyalty and excitement engendered by friendships to the silent misgivings Joby experiences. The trio of Joby, Ben, and Laura are introduced and wonderfully developed, establishing them as rich, well-rounded characters the reader can truly care about.  And it’s because Ferrari does such an incredible with these characters – and Joby in particular – that this physical and spiritual journey resonates so effectively.

While I enjoyed Joby’s journey and his settling in Taubolt, I found this latter section just as well-written (Ferrari’s background as an illustrator serves him nicely in his description of the quaint little community) but not quite as engaging, perhaps owing to the multitude of new characters introduced and my inability to keep a few of them straight.

Throughout the book, we continually cut back to the major players in the wager: God and his frustrated angels wracked by their inability to help Joby and God’s laisser-faire attitude; and Lucifer and his demons who struck me as perfectly suited for white collars positions in Corporate America. They serve as a contemporary chorus, commenting on events while wrestling with their own internal issues, off-setting the often depressing developments in Joby’s life with humor and surprising liveliness.

The book’s final revelation ties everything up in a big way and, while dramatically satisfying in many respects, it also undercuts what I feel is the heart of the story – that a regular person, in spite of all, would remain true to that which is good. God, it turned out, had a ringer all along. Of course one could argue that the fact that Lucifer has made and lost this wager some ten thousand times before (his only double-win coming with that couple in Eden) would suggest that regular people have done just that. At the same time, the fact that Lucifer has already lost this bet some ten thousand times before make Joby’s trial all but a foregone conclusion.

Nevertheless, The Book of Joby is an enjoyable and rewarding novel, balancing pathos with humor in a tale profound, sincere and stirring.

I’m very intersted to hear what those of you who read the book have to say…

Today’s entry is dedicated to birthday individual Belouchi.

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dasndanger
dasndanger

Joe – birthday individual Belouchi? You having the same problem I had when – after several e-mail exchanges – I finally broke down and asked Perragrin if she was a he or a she?? She’s a she. grin

Not knowing the sex of the person on the other end has happened to me more than once, and I do like to know. I don’t want to be too ‘cute’ with guys, lest they think I’m flirting, and I don’t want to be too snarky with the gals, because…well…let’s face it, women are vicious, and they’ll bite right back. lol

das

Candace
Candace

As I have already said a few times, I loved it. Bringing fantasy into the modern world is one of my favorite parts of the genre. And when it mentioned a bit of Arthurian legend on the back I was definitly intrigued. LOVE anything having to do with King Arthur, which is why I love the Avalon series so much.

I also found this book to be very uplifting, in the end of course, when Joby finally wins. Well, dies, and wins. The whole time, I found myself urging him on mercilessly, even when he was at his worst, right before he went to Taubolt. Everytime he gave up, I at times found myself screaming and even smacking the book because Joby was just so hopeless sometimes. Ugh. I think it was partly my annoyance at how easy he gives up that really did keep me reading through it so fast.

On the literary side, I do agree, that the characters are very, very well drawn by Ferrari. Especially Joby, Ben and Laura. It’s easy to imagine them as modern versions of Arthur, Lance and Guin. Of course, that may be because I am so familiar with the legends. It was a perfect blend of visuals and characters for me. Sometimes, I hate it when authors spend so much time describing everything around the characters that I want to skip forward. I like to imagine some things on my own. I like to discover books, not just read them.

Ferrari create the perfect setting for this kind of story. There are plenty of other books that try to bring a King Arthur story to modern day, whether it’s the main plot of the story or not. The only other one that I believe is just as good as this one, is called The Forever King. It’s excellent, might want to check it out sometime.

Anyway. Love this story. The idea that God and Lucifer have done this 1000 times over is just….interesting. i have always been facinated in religion. And this relationship between Lucifer, God, and the angels was fantastic to read. Probably the most entertaining I’ve come across. So many authors who bring these characters in just leave so flat, they might as well never have been there in the first place.

You could say that Ferrari definitly took a chance with this novel, especially with all the craze over how people bring religion into fiction these days. It wouldn’t surprise me to one day find this on the forbidden list of the Catholic Church. Right next to Harry Potter and Da Vinci Code.

Oh, and for the record, I did cry a few times.

I still loved it.

Gilder in San Antonio

Sorry, didn’t read the book, though I have started the second Honor Harrington novel.

Please consider a blog dedication to Chimaeracon over the weekend. We’ve pulled it together at the last two months and are busy dotting Is and crossing Ts.
http://www.chimaeracon.com

Got an email tonight that has me saying, “Holy Hannah!”. Looks like the name and trademarks of Eastern Air Lines may grace the skies once more. (Daddy flew for Eastern 1945–1977.)

Candace
Candace

Oh, and I forgot to add…

My favorite parts are Joby’s time with Hawk and his friends. The conversations and discovery they went through with each other was just so…I don’t know. Just amazing.

Especially knowing something was going on with those kids. I was so extremely happy when Laura came back into the picture and Joby was Hawk’s dad. Totally wow.

dasndanger
dasndanger

A snow bunny, in honor of my first snow day in years:

comment image

razz

das

Angelus
Angelus

Ok, Not much of a book wurm, But the description you just gave… Dude, You have to get this book on film. Or speak to someone who can.

This could be a really interesting movie deal.

I can’t speak for everyone, But I’d definitely watch it smile

dovil
dovil

I think God desperately needs to seek rehabilitation for his chronic gambling problem, and was it me or was the UST being him and Lucifer totally blatent – get a room, supernatural beings!

If I was Lucifer I would have just offered Joby a puppy – nine year olds are pretty stupid. Renouncing Creator vs PUPPY!, I know what most kids would pick.

Charlie's Angel
Charlie's Angel

The Book of Joby – what a wonderful book! About the struggle of good vs. evil (literally), the book follows Joby Peterson from childhood to the age of 37. It seems that God and the Devil have a wager on Joby (unbeknownst to him) and his life is the fulcrum on which all the rest of creation balances. Joby doesn’t know he is the target of the Devil, and those around him who do know are unable to assist him unless he asks for their help. The Authurian legend is also woven into the story, as the Grail is protecting the town of Taubolt from the worst of Lucifer’s minions.

Once Joby arrives in Taubolt, evil infiltrates the town using humans to do the dirty work. The Devil is on a mission to turn Joby to his side, and he makes use of all his creatures along with some unwitting humans to push him over the edge, inch by inch. Watching Joby’s frustration as all his hopes and plans go up in smoke again and again is heartbreaking, especially because we as readers know all he has to do is ask for help.

I thought The Devil’s use of “normal” people from opposite ends of the spectrum was interesting. The corporate lumber baron vs. the environmentalist, the fire and brimstone preacher vs. the new age practicioner — and the virtuous townfolk of Taubolt were caught in the middle.

The Book of Joby is definitely on my Top 10 list.

Nathaniel
Nathaniel

Will you be doing anything special during the creation con next month? Would love to meet you in person, if only for a moment.

Thornyrose
Thornyrose

The Book of Joby was an interesting, even good read, but it’s a book I’m having difficulty in reviewing. The title and the Prologue both establish the basic premise of the book. And therein lies much of my problem. As a non religious person I’ve drawn lessons from the original book of Job that tends to differ from that of believers. So one of the first things I looked for in the prologue, and later through the book, was a reason why God should bother to wager at all with his fallen creation, and what he should gain from making the wager. Alas, I do not feel either of those questions were answered satisfactorily, just as in the original book Job’s lament was never properly answered by the Diety. Still, the read was by no means a waste of time. I felt the early chapters to be the strongest, where we first meet the idealistic, energetic, and charismatic Joby. While I found it rather appalling that God would permit a 9! year old to be tortured by Lucifer, I found it touching and credible that a child would be so inspired by a book as to act upon it. I was also entertained by Satan’s difficulty in getting good help, as his hapless minions scurry about trying to impliment his plans, or rather try to impliment A plan, as Lucifer stumbles his way through the bet. And I appreciate the author establishes that even demons/angels can in fact die. the reading gets a lot grimmer as Joby hits his teens, and as years of having his life manipulated by forces he’s unaware of wear at confidence and determination. What teen has not suffered such self doubt at some point? How much more so would one who is systematically having the supporting pillars of his life chipped away relentlessly from beneath him? This makes it easy to jump ahead several years as we watch Joby starting to hit bottom on the streets of Berkley. For me the single most powerful moment of the book comes at this stage, as Joby has begun to feel once more a sense of idealism and a desire to fight for justice. He not only is working on his own redemption, but manages to help Gypsy bring about his own salvation. Then to have the whole situation come crashing down around him… this is where I actually felt tears welling up, as the characters truly became alive. I found the idea of a place like Taulbolt intriguing, and again the author’s writing skill was such that I could feel an emotional reaction to it’s steady invasion and deterioration. But I did find Joby’s bonding with the male youth of the town to be just a tad disturbing. Even in an innocent venue, and using unconventional teaching methods, I found it just a bit odd he didn’t consider once how his relationships with the youth could be interpreted. I must also admit that I found the Author… Read more »

Ponytail
Ponytail

The Book of Joby I bought the book several weeks ago and began reading only to put it down at about page 50. Last week, a commentor said they had stopped reading at about page 50 also. I thought, “maybe we should give it 50 pages more”. So I picked it back up and began reading. Pretty quickly I was hooked. I very much enjoyed the Book of Joby! The foundation for Joby’s good natured, easy-going, imaginative, possitive attitude are laid out during his childhood years from his relationships with his family, friends, and young enemies. Much like any kid’s life. When God and Lucifer make their wager, Joby’s life begins to change. The book made me think there are a lot of fallen angels out in the world making someone’s life miserable or the people around them miserable. Joby seemed to have really bad luck. I enjoyed the time in Taubolt when everyone seemed to embrass Joby and his life smothed out for a while. It was going pretty good until Lucifer turned up the heat – so to speak. Does anyone know why Joby’s parents never came to visit him after he sent them the “I’m happy now” letter? I kept waiting but they never showed. And did those kids with the power really die or did they come back in a different life? Joe, I think “God’s laisser-faire attitude” is because Lucifer has made this bet thousands of times before and never won because God always knows how it will turn out. After all, God is all-knowing. Despite all the terror and bad news, this book is full of humor. I agree Lucifer and his henchmen were sometimes hilarious. They were occasionally bumbling idiots in their attempts to turn Joby. (Maybe that is where we got the phrase, “you’ve got to laugh so you don’t cry”.) One disappointment is that Mr. Ferrari did not include any original illustrations in the book. I would have loved to seen some of his artwork especially made for the Book of Joby. That would have been awesome! Also, (me the reader) and Joby lived through many many years of evil and heartbreak. In the very end, I would have liked to see more of the happily-ever-after with Joby finally getting what he was so deservant of. I wanted to see more of the reunion with Laura and his son. Instead of the book ending with Joby driving down the road toward it, I wanted to read all about it. (I knew Hawk was his son when we found out who his mother was. Joby was blind not to see that!) Over all a very impressive book! I found myself wanting to do good deeds or tring to keep a positive attitude. (I’m sure I will get over that eventually!). Thank you Joe for including this book in your Book of the Month Club. I am so glad I finished reading it. Thank you Mr. Ferrari for writing the book. Next time… Read more »

herbertsommerfeld
herbertsommerfeld

Any story that has hope as one of its central themes is good as far as I am concerned. I was worried The book of Joby was going to be either blatantly evangelical, or blatantly heretical. However, I did not feel that Ferrari had some sort of grudge or agenda. I am not sure why Candace would think the Catholics wouldn’t like this book. A lot of the themes in it reminded me of one of my favorite authors Josef Pieper, a catholic philosopher. It also reminded me of Lewis’s Screwtape Letters a bit. Further, I did not find Joby to be unrealistic as a boy (i.e., saying or thinking things only an adult would say), and he aged believably as well. I have a few friends in mind to whom I am going to recommend The Book of Joby.

sorrykb
sorrykb

I picked up “The Book of Joby” at the library after work on Wednesday, wondering how I’d possibly finish it in time to join in the discussion. But when I forced myself to put the book down at 1:00 AM Thursday, 200+ pages in, I figured I just might make it after all.

Lucifer and his demons’ inflicting upon Joby “a life of relentless mediocrity” seems to fit in nicely with the “corporate” personas that you mentioned, Joe. In fact I found myself more fearful for Joby when he faced impending… cynicism… than when he faced impending death.

God and the angels were more… personable and engaging that I could have imagined for a novel. Hasn’t it always been the depictions of Lucifer and demons that have been more interesting through the history of literature? Perfection, dramatically-speaking, is dull. But here Mark Ferrari manages to depict characters and relationships that are actually evolving.

I gave the book to my very Catholic parents for their birthdays at our family celebration over the weekend. I think mom will love it. Dad … well, either he’ll love it as I hope he will or (as Candace suggested in her comments) he’ll think it’s blasphemous. Guess I’ll find out soon enough.

In other news… Last week marked the beginning of the great staff rebellion at my work. We’ve finally had enough of abuse and insanity from a few managers (and long sleepless nights spent worrying about them) and are now getting together as a group to make things better. We’ll either end up with a happier and more productive organization (and possibly a union), or a few of us organizers will get fired. Whatever happens, at least we’re not paralyzed by fear and uncertainty anymore. And maybe I’ll stop thinking about my boss every time I read about Satan’s minions. smile Wish us luck.

– KB

P.S. Thanks again, Joe, for including the BOTM as a regular part of your blog. The book selections have been great, and I’ve become an avid reader once again.

SciGal
SciGal

das- I dunno why, but in that pic his skin resembles that of a Morlock. Funny how both of them eat people. Lucky you, getting snow. It hasn’t snowed all winter, which is really weird.

Jon K.
Jon K.

Hey Joe do you watch Big Bang Theory? There was a great mention of Stargate and the episode Brief Candle, if you haven’t seen it you should check it out,

Here is a clip if you didn’t catch it.

http://www.tv.com/video/JjEwZGs0smVtEmmKT1CcpvpqXIS7bP4x/the-big-bang-theory—war-is-hell?o=cbs&tag=show_summary;video;title

green
green

I was immediately detracted from it when you just now gave an explanation. But I might pick it up next time I’m out because it does sound like more than religion touting stuff.

The bible is great literary stuff, I must say.

sunstonetal
sunstonetal

i finished reading the book just in time! phew!

i loved it too, and I will probably go and read the book of Job to find whatever parallels may exist.

i was very interested to find that this book doesn’t seem to be categorized as christian fiction yet it has many christian elements, and enjoyed discovering that as i read it.

his descriptions are amazing, i especially liked the description of the Garden Coast, Joby’s first visit to Taubolt, and the final meeting at the end with the divine characters and Joby finally getting a chance to reconnect with God. it’s hard to pick out just a few.

i thought that God was given a wonderful personality which was a little unexpected but in a good way: the frank and sort of sarcastic way that he converses with his angels (especially with Gabe in the epilogue) who in comparison seem very innocent. this of course ties in with the idea that the angels are so used to obeying and accepting every word that God says. that said, i also liked the idea of the difference between God’s will and God’s command, and how the angels, in their disobedience, were actually obeying the will of God.

i loved how God was curious about a different question than what was being wagered on: not just, ‘is my creation good or evil’ but rather, ‘how innately good is my creation?’

i also liked the idea that throughout the story when we cut to the demons, Lucifer is so intelligent about what needs to happen next from hell’s point of view. but when we go to God’s thoughts on Lucifer (when he’s talking to Gabe about Lucifer), or when we go to a conversation between the two (i’m thinking mainly about the conversation at the end) that compared to God, Lucifer’s mindset seems to be much narrower and it’s like he can’t comprehend or accept what God says regarding the wager and his will.

thanks Joe for choosing this as a BotM!

dasndanger
dasndanger

@ SciGal – I think he’s just cold…

I’ve always wondered about Wraith. They’re only green in sunlight – otherwise, they take on the color of the room/lighting they’re in, like chameleons. wink

And – technically – Wraith don’t eat people. They just suck on ’em, like lollipops. grin

das

Ganymede
Ganymede

So, Folks… Did *anyone* happen to notice that “Life Imitating Art” brush with extinction that happened at 9am [EST] today…? I’m referring to the missed-us-by-this-WTF-much [63,000k] hunk of celestial gravel that was only discovered on FRIDAY!!

DD45 2009 is the name if anyone is interested…

I’m like reading all this in the morning paper a couple of hours *after* the fact whilst chomping on my Cheerios! And I’m thinking… “saw THAT episode!” — but the *best* part, reading about the 2029 one headed this way called “APOPHIS”!!!

Hmm… wonder what the chances of having that Moon Base up and running by then, huh?

Arctic Goddess

Hi Joe:

What kind of red tape is involved in getting a foreign born actor to work in Canada? Are they expected to go through an immigration process such as becoming a landed immigrant?

How exactly does the system work for foreign nationals?

Thanks

Patricia (AG)

Amz

I didn’t get a chance to read The Book of Joby but I’m really enjoying reading everyone else’s thoughts. Thornyrose, I especially related to your comments about drawing a different interpretation to the original book of Job, I found the same thing when I was studying it during a text translation class.

silver_comet
silver_comet

Just finished the book in time. smile And now I’m not sure what to say about it. It’s not easy to express what I think.

I agree with you, the first part about Joby’s childhood was very well told and interesting. The characters were detailed and perfectly portrayed.

But beginning with the time in Taubolt I often asked myself: why is he telling this part of the story (in such a detailed way)? Is that really necessary? Maybe because I expected a different kind of story. I expected to read more about Joby’s actual fight against the devil. But he wasn’t even aware of that until almost the end of the book. And I was disappointed from the end. After the very extensive storytelling it seemed quite rushed to me. A little bit like „surprise, surprise, that’s just it, I (God) can undo everything anyway“. I think that spoiled Joby’s (involuntary) sacrifices he had to suffer in his life and reduced him to some kind of a chessman not only for Lucifer but for God as well.

I felt sympathy for Joby because of all the losses in his life. No wonder he nearly broke. Although I knew many things happened because of the devil’s influence, I saw his life a little like an example for our own lives. Seeing how easily a very promising life can go to waste for so many years, because Joby lost the faith in himself, wanted so desperately to be perfect and felt responsible for just everything. IMO with such high expectations he was bound to fail. But in the end there is always hope and one always has a choice: to give up or to stand up.

I really liked the idea behind this story and I loved the way Ferrari created the figures of God, Lucifer and the angels. They were even more interesting for me than Joby and the others.

Ponytail
Ponytail

Also,

The book of Job in the Bible is much harsher than the Book of Joby. Joby had a hard luck life during most of those 30+ years when Lucifer was trying to steal his heart. Job, in the Bible, was literally wiped out by the Devil. He was considered a weathly man, with many possessions, large family, and a strong faith in God. Job lost everyone he loved, his large family, through death, murder, natural destruction. He lost all his belongings, cattle, home, everything was taken away. And when his faith remained strong and the people around him questioned that faith, the devil then made sores to cover his body and he was very sick. Still his faith in God never stopped. The Devil lost, and God restored everything Job had had before, only he was given it back double. His new family was even larger than before.

Joby suffered many years of misfortune. But not like Job. In the end of The Book of Joby, his friends did start to die as the war for his soul raged. The wager was won by God and it turns out most of the young who died, were special anyway. Some did not actually die. Or did they???

Very interesting fantasy book. I really enjoyed it as a Christian. Found many things I could use in my life. But the Bible is where I get my real inspiration and guidance for living in this world. I have read that cover to cover also. It is also a great read!!

drldeboer
drldeboer

I really enjoyed reading everyone’s reviews, I’m glad you guys liked The Book of Joby. I couldn’t continue it, with more bad than good going on in my life these days I felt the subject matter was too close to my reality and how I feel about things like good, evil, God, and even the original story of Job. But I will file it and maybe get to it again someday when it will feel more like entertainment.
DD

Deni B.
Deni B.

@ das: I’m female smile That’ll clear at least one up for you. Pissed off female, actually, one of the dogs peed in the house last night…I guess when it’s freezing outside, all the rules go out the window? Love the snow bunny pic, but it reminds me of Dr. Seuss (and that shit gave me nightmares, still does – never read it to my kids), yikes!