Mar 14, 2014


Review of The Second Lives of Honest Men by John R. Cameron

And.... (drumroll) I am back! This time with a review for a futuristic science-fiction novel that goes by the name of The Second Lives of Honest Men. Sounds interesting, huh? I would certainly hope so. Wanna know why? Because it was, and I freely admit, one of the best science fiction books I have ever read. Granted, I've only read about a handful or two of science fiction books in my life, but there is always a first time for everything, right? Like the first time you ever read a novel, or the first time you write your first short story. See what I mean?

Now for my review. I enjoyed the book. When I said it was one of the best science fiction books I have ever read, I was not joking. So here goes nothing!
The Second Lives of Honest Men by John R. Cameron

On the evening of April 14th, 1865, a flawless duplicate replaced the 16th President an instant prior to his assassination. Two centuries later, Honest Abe opened his eyes to a world in desperate need of guidance.

The Second Lives of Honest Men is a prescient vision of where society's dependence on technology could be taking us. It's a character driven story about love, redemption, and hope, with deep philosophical underpinnings related to how we think, feel, and reason in a world where it's ironically easy to feel disconnected.

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My family often drives me to the brink of madness; not a difficult thing to do, considering how close to the edge I already am. My daughter is a hellion. At the age of five, she’s both bright and bold, obstinate, and pushes every button I have. My wife blames my genetics: “I was never like that,” she claims. I deny it, despite knowing that I was also an uncontrollable child.

I’m a teacher, but I consider myself a modern philosopher. I’m very worried about the current state of education. I’m concerned about the future, in general. I don’t think we all necessarily need to be alarmists, though I do believe that if you look at the world around you and aren’t a little worried, you and I probably aren’t going to agree on much. (I’ll pretend not to look while you navigate elsewhere. There’s plenty of other entertainment on-line. Crushing Candy, and so forth…)

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The book starts off with a prologue, thus introducing us to Jacob Wentworth, a Humanities professor at The University. In a world full of people who are addicted to "The Interface," the futuristic version of the Internet, only more advanced and addicting, Professor Wentworth is just about the only man alive who does not find himself submerged in a world full of digital, virtual, mind-numbing fantasies. Everywhere he goes, he sees people with headphones plugged in, lost in the trance of being socially and virtually active. Think of it as being permanently connected to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or LinkedIn. This is the world he is surrounded by. No one values knowledge, history, or books anymore. Until he meets Bryce Trent, the one pupil who seems engaged in actually learning something.

From there, we are introduced to the genius that is Bryce Trent. He is the University's finest student who goes to perfect the Interface. He and the Professor become fast friends and Bryce is taught the value of true living, not the virtual, brain-washing lives he and his fellow citizens are living.

John Cameron lets his readers truly capture the plot. He describes everything with an exquisite detail that is refreshing to read. He puts into perspective what our lives could be like five decades into future. The plot isn't just something fantasy related; it's also something that could quite possibly occur. He makes his readers wonder, perceive, and formulate their own individual thoughts regarding the future. Would it be good to walk around with the Internet seen literally in our mind's eye? Would we be human or would we merely be robots controlled by social media - more so than we are today? These are questions I asked myself as I read. In all my years of reading, I'd yet to have read not just a science fiction book I enjoyed, but one that actually had me contemplating my future in a world where technology overrules books, knowledge, and the old art of verbal communication.

The book is also filled with suspense, romance, and scientific advancements. The book is a page turner that will keep you on your toes. The plot thickens as Professor Wentworth, Bryce, Julia Swan, Abraham Lincoln, and Brianna race to try and bring down The Company, the government formed to rule and brainwash the citizens of America. Repairing a time machine, the genius Professor, student, and his girlfriend plan to bring Abraham Lincoln back to the future to try and repair the broken society.

They succeed.

A page turner to the very end, I highly recommend this book. Just when you expect the book to end a certain way, the epilogue throws everything haywire. The final ending, I say final because there seems to have been two, is startling and seemingly incomprehensible. Until it's actually finished.

A highly fast-paced, suspenseful, and energetic futuristic novel, it's one that merits all the praise received. Good job, Mr. Cameron.

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