Child’s Play is the first in The Last Fool series and it is quite the ride! It is set in the future with the premise that religion is no longer tolerated. “The primary purpose of the Department of Religious Affairs – not to outlaw religion. Other countries have tried that and have only succeeded in increasing religious fervor. No, our purpose is to remove the differences, any aspect that leads to separation, or the feelings of inferiority and superiority. (pg. 14)” Thinking that by removing any religion, the government has solved the issues of wars, murders, etc. they have made it not only illegal but have created institutions to handle those with religious tendencies. Treating faith like a mental illness, they commit anyone who is going against the grain. Calling those who tried to obey but couldn’t, a disorder, mental facilities have special pods for treatment. As Dr. Aadil states, “Yes, I know all about the dangers of religion. And I’ve supported every law that has freed us from its tyranny – the fines and penalties for hate speech, the deportation of militants, the incarceration and re-education of hardliners – until gradually, over the last several decades; the monster had finally been defanged. (pg. 14)”
Maxwell, a famous fashion designer, is committed after a fortune cookie sends him a message from God. The fortune cookie’s message simply states, “You are my favorite child. God” Maxwell tries to explain how God really feels about each of the patients in the pod. When Dr. Aadil asks how is it possible that God could find Maxwell as his favorite as well as everyone else, Maxwell replies, “When you’re infinite, everybody can be your favorite.” The doctor explains that not everyone likes the idea that God considers him/her their favorite. He says “You see Maxwell, Chloe’s faith system doesn’t believe in a personal deity. Max smiled. “It doesn’t stop Him from loving her” (pg. 31)
Maxwell meets a cast of characters in the Sisco Heights Mental Health Facility where he shares this idea that God is loving and cares deeply for each one of them. It is Dr. Aadil’s job to rehabilitate Maxwell and cure his “illness” in therapy. He tries to explain how detrimental religion has been in the past and how many innocent people have been killed in the name of religion. Maxwell states, “Religion has nothing to do with a father and a child. A father and child are family, not religion.” (pg. 34)
I think one of my favorite characters is Bernard because he is constantly conversing with inanimate objects. He believes everything from the tattoos on a woman’s arm to the cleaning supplies in the janitor’s closet, speak to him. He and Maxwell are roommates and they have many deep conversations about God. Maxwell does his best to share the message of God and through many wonderful thought provoking references, causes even the reader to feel the profound intensity of a God who truly loves his creation.
My favorite of these conversations is where the other patients ask how a loving God could create them with all of their mental deficiencies. Maxwell’s explanation is fantastic and brought tears to my eyes. I would love to include it here but I feel it’s a powerful part of the story and would hate to spoil it for the reader.
Overall, Child’s Play is a commanding story with a fun and exciting plot and lovable characters. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. I give it five stars all the way around.
I received this book from the Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.