American Judas by Mickey Dubrow

From the publisher:

“Seth and Maggie Ginsberg do their best to navigate an oppressive theocracy where fundamental Christianity is the only legal religion, and abortion, homosexuality, and adultery are outlawed. When a co-worker outs Seth as a Jew, Seth escapes to Mexico, while Maggie is sent to a Savior Camp. American Judas is a dystopian tale about a young couple’s life after opportunistic U.S. politicians abolish the wall of separation between Church and State.”

My Review:

A terrifying look at what an American theocracy could be.

This novel was heavily plot-driven, with a lot of message to its readers. The story started out innocuous enough, with just an undercurrent of dread. But it quickly escalated to worst-case scenario and became very grim. As is frequently needed in end-of-world novels, there was certainly some violence, but I would not call it gratuitous. Be forewarned there is some violence.

The author did a good job with interjecting some humor into his story. A few of my personal favorites:

“The Savior camps are not just for lapsed Christians and those afflicted with the disease of homosexuality. They also cure drug addictions, adulterers, Satan worshipers and Liberals.”

“What’s the point of being the damn American Judas if you don’t make it so that a man can drink his beer in peace.”

Tearing down the wall between church and state did not go so well in this world and provided a good reminder in these turbulent times. A state run church is not a new idea in this world, but radically changing the priorities and ideals of a freedom loving country is bound to create some backlash.

At one point, our protagonist Maggie asks Tiffany (an adolescent viewed as an example for all others) “Are you so perfect that you get to decide for other people?” And Tiffany’s answer sums up for me how people can fall into this vicious scenario: “I’m not perfect. Just forgiven.” My belief allows me to make mistakes and make decisions for others I believe are right. Scary stuff.

Overall, I found the pacing of this novel to be engrossing. I turned every page needing to know what happened next. Some aspects of the story were tied up with nice little bows, some aspects were left undone, and some aspects were sped to a hasty conclusion. I was left with a feeling of hope, which I find very important when reading any apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic fiction.

I see this is a debut novel from Mickey Dubrow and I thought it was well-done and timely. I will watch for future titles by this author.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my advanced copy of this book.

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