Friday, July 10, 2015

Book Review of Iscariot by Tosca Lee

   The current culture is obsessed with antiheroes. Dexter, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, all have villains as the lead(s). They are the ones viewers are focused on and, possibly, rooting for. I watched the first two seasons of Breaking Bad and found that this obsession with villainy wasn't something I was interested in. I don't want to be watching a man's descent into evil. I am fine with flawed heroes or conflicted heroes. But there are some things which push a flawed hero into villain territory and that makes it very hard for me to want to continue with the story. Then I picked up Iscariot by Tosca Lee. In case it isn't obvious by the title, the story is about the life of Judas Iscariot: possibly one of the most famous traitors in history. This brought me to a tricky point. Why? Because I loved the book.
   This was a tricky thing for me. Because Judas certainly isn't a good person. He betrayed his best friend (though, in this version, the story isn't as cut and dried as all that). Yet I really connected with the character. From when the story starts with Judas as a child to when he betrays Jesus, I felt a connection with the character. I felt sympathy for him. I didn't agree with his actions: but I could actually feel like that was a choice I could make.
   Here's the difference: Judas starts out as a good person. He strives to do good. And even when he's doing ill, he is still trying to do good. I have not watched Dexter, I haven't watched or read Game of Thrones. But I did watch the first two seasons of Breaking Bad and I only once felt a connection with Walter White. Then, as the series went on, I was more and more disconnected with the man because I never felt like that could really happen. Sure, it makes compelling storytelling and it was brilliantly executed. But I didn't care about someone who was out there to destroy the world, because really what he was doing didn't seem like an option that people that I knew would make. Of course, I could be wrong. Other people love the show, and I say great.
   So if you're looking to encounter a tragedy and Breaking Bad isn't your cup of tea, may I suggest Star Wars Episodes I-III (though, the quality is lower than the other two I've mentioned). Or read Iscariot by Tosca Lee. It's well-written and well-told, a good read and a very thought-provoking book.

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