The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Twenty-six-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.
Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby’s origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.
There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.
Future Home of the Living God is a blatant rip off of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and offers absolutely nothing to the dystopian/speculative fiction genres or the feminism conversation.
Future Home of the Living God follows Cedar as she discovers her birth mom while some sort of pregnancy de-evolution is taking place. The story then copies Atwood’s as a pregnant Cedar and the father of her child attempt to escape a new religious government that are kidnapping pregnant women.
While Atwood has perfected this plot, there is room for other authors to tell a similar story while adding to the genre and various conversations surrounding feminism, women, etc. Unfortunately, Erdrich decided to focus the novel solely on Cedar and her thoughts. Large portions of the novel are Cedar’s day-to-day thoughts and feelings on various topics. So, while society around her is crumbling and a new regime is being built, the reader is subjected to Cedar’s mundane thoughts and feelings with almost no information about the world around her. When information about the new government and society manages to break up Cedar’s thoughts, it’s almost as if it’s an afterthought and Erdrich quickly moves past it without expanding. Had Erdrich chosen to tell the story in a different manner that didn’t focus solely on Cedar, this book could have been better. It still would have been a blatant rip off, but a better rip off than what we currently have.
Future Home of the Living God is told in three parts:
Part one is spent in the intimate day-to-day thoughts of a pregnant woman doing nothing as the world around her falls apart. The reader is treated to mundane musings instead of being told about the dystopian society forming. It’s slow, boring, and obnoxious.
Part two is leagues better than part one and the reason I rated the novel two stars instead of one. It’s suspenseful and intriguing, but still light on information about the developing dystopian society.
Part three ruins any and all enjoyment I got from part two. Part three returns to the writing style of part one, effectively killing any momentum part two garnered.
Overall, Future Home of the Living God is a disappointment. It’s a blatant rip off of The Handmaid’s Tale that somehow manages to be boring and offer nothing of value despite the very important content.
Have you read Future Home of the Living God? What did you think?