Sunday, October 12, 2014

REVIEW: REBECCA by Adam J. Nicolai

Title: Rebecca
Author: Adam J. Nicolai
Publisher: Lone Road Publishing
Publication Date: January 7, 2013
Genres: GLBT, Suspense
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
My rating: 5/5


Sarah threw her life away for God.

When she realized she had feelings for her best friend, Sarah drove her off. To prove she wasn't gay, Sarah slept with a boy from school. When she got pregnant, 
she surrendered an acceptance to Yale in order to keep her daughter, Rebecca.

Finally, God's messenger tells her she's proven her virtue. She can have her life back the way it was. 

In return, she only needs to kill her baby.

"Rebecca" is a terrifying descent into the maze of one young woman's beliefs, a labyrinth of self-hate and religious abuse which asks the same question at every turn: 

What would you do for your God?


This is the first book by Adam Nicolai I’ve read, but it definitely won’t be the last. Lately I haven’t been reading many self-published books as the majority of the ones I’ve read have been disappointing and left me in a reading slump. I’ve downloaded this novel a long, long time ago when it was free on Amazon, and because I was undecided on what to read next, I started on this freebie with zero expectations. Now I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Despite the impression the book summary and book cover might leave with you, Rebecca isn’t really a sinister read. I would classify it under realistic fiction because it deals with serious topics such as the consequences of teen pregnancy, single parenting, emerging sexuality, and religion. Allow me to elaborate. Sarah has known from a very young age that she favors girls over boys. Because Sarah was raised by a strictly religious mother who follows the church and the Bible’s teachings to the letter, she convinced herself that she must be possessed by a demon for preferring girls over boys. Sarah then goes and does a stupid thing by getting pregnant to prove to herself and her mother that she really isn’t possessed by a demon and should be in love with a boy instead of a girl. Not taking the consequences of her actions into account, Sarah is left facing the difficulties of single parenting on her own.

Hats off to the author for making me believe, in the first third or so of the book, that Rebecca is an evil little soul-sucking demonic baby. Honestly, I was convinced! Even though I rationalized for myself that what Sarah is going through is probably post-partum depression after the traumatic events of her labor, I still couldn’t help but feel animosity towards Rebecca - exactly the way the author intended for me to feel. Well done on that, Mr Nicolai! At the same time, congratulations to you also for making me fall head over heels in love with Rebecca the same time Sarah came to realize that Rebecca is her whole life. Again, this was done convincingly! Taking into account that a man wrote this book, I was astounded at how well he makes the reader understand the emotions and exhaustion, the guilt, resentment, and regrets Sarah had to deal with. The main theme seemed to be how Sarah had to come to terms with being gay, and how it conflicts with the faith in which she was raised, and on top that having to deal with possibly being shunned by her extremely religious mother. The emerging romance between Sarah and Tiff was dealt with subtly, but expertly, and although there are a lot of negative emotions going around, I can’t describe this book as angst-ridden, because it’s not.

The one thing I wasn’t on-board with was the whole evil-messenger-sacrifice-your-baby-to-God angle. It felt separate from the main plot. Most likely it was used as a metaphor for Sarah’s struggles with her faith and her guilt for what she did to Cal, but it wasn’t convincing. I felt the story has more than enough for it to make an impact without the messenger-tormenting-Sarah parts.

But really, this book was incredible and I almost can’t believe it was written by a self-pub author. There isn’t even one mistake to be found in this book, and the prose is engaging and descriptive without being weighed down with niceties to fluff it out. I felt Sarah’s anger and frustration, and I came to accept things the same time she did. I felt resentful towards her mother, I appreciated what Tiff did for Sarah and Rebecca, I eventually came to feel protective towards Rebecca, and I was as afraid of Cal as Sarah was when he did what he did. Trust me on this: what Cal did to his baby was absolutely shocking! All I’m saying is that you can expect to feel a lot of emotions while reading this book. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, so keep an open mind when you read this. At least it’s easy to appreciate what a fantastic job the author did with the writing, especially when, for some, it comes to the sensitive matter of religion.

My overall feeling? Color me impressed!

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Adam J Nicolai lives near Minneapolis, MN with his wife, Joy, and their two children, Isaac and Rydia. He is a life-long nerd, game lover, author, Star Wars fan, Dungeon Master, and amateur game designer, as well as a former project manager and policy debate coach.

His first novel, Alex, was self-published on Amazon and was extremely well-received, hitting #13 on the Kindle Horror Bestseller list and #1 in Ghost Horror. It was also the top-rated novel by customer review for several months in Horror, Thriller, and Suspense, and peaked at #3 top-rated in overall Kindle Fiction.

His second novel, Rebecca, is now available exclusively through Amazon. The paperback will available soon.

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