I gave WM. Paul Young’s book Eve 3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads. But I’m not sure any stars could or should be given to this book. I’m not even sure if I can really review it at all. But I feel that I have to because the book left me with so many feelings that if I don’t get them out in one way or another, I’ll probably explode.
It was by far the weirdest book I’ve ever read in my entire life. And as an English graduate who frequently had to read bizarre ancient British literature, that’s saying a lot.
Here’s the thing. The book is a work of fiction and I knew that from the start. It was fairly well written and really holds the reader’s attention. It’s really interesting and fast paced and you can’t put it down.
But it’s also really strange and confusing, especially in the beginning. One of the writer’s biggest flaws is that he introduces too many characters too quickly and I don’t think half the characters really need to be in the story at all. There’s the main character, Lily/Lilith – a witness who is a human trafficking survivor that washes ashore in a container filled with the bodies of other women who didn’t make it out so well. There’s Jonathan who is a collector I think? Or is he a scholar? He’s something. There’s Letty who ended up being an angel. There’s a million other scholars, witnesses, collectors, and random people. Plus, there’s Adam and Eve of course.
I was so excited about this book and had such high hopes for it initially. The story of Adam and Eve has always been one of my favorite biblical stories. I knew it was a work of fiction but I still trusted that it would be a good book. This is the first book of Young’s I have ever read, but I heard many great things about him and his other book The Shack so I trusted this would be good as well.
But this isn’t exactly the biblical version of Adam and Eve that I remember. In this story Lily is Eve’s daughter. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in the bible I am pretty sure Eve didn’t have any daughters. She had sons; Cain and Abel. But I knew this was a work of fiction and I thought maybe the author was doing something unique. I thought Lily being Eve’s daughter wasn’t quite literal but rather the author’s way of saying that we as humans are all connected together in Christ.
The book deals a lot with Adam’s turning and the fall of mankind. At first it makes sense. He eats the forbidden fruit. He doesn’t accept God’s love for him. He chooses the world instead of God. And I can see how Lily is living that now in the modern day. She must choose whether she wants to continue living her worldly life or if she wants to change and follow Christ. This is the part of the story I agree and connect with and really love.
But the book is still beyond disturbing. The way the author shows creation and Adam is simply bizarre. I am struggling to even write it right now because of how odd it is. Unless you’ve read the book you’ll probably think I’m making this up and have completely lost my mind. That’s how I felt when I read it. But excuse me, but did the author really write that Adam became pregnant with Eve and gave birth to her? Was there really a whole scene on how God (referred to as Adonai) had breasts full of milk and nursed Adam? Genesis is one book of the bible that I’m very familiar and I’m fairly sure certain that none of this is biblical. Where did the author even come up with this? It’s beyond bizarre and disturbing.
Eve was made from the rib of Adam. It says so right in Genesis 2:22. Men and Women are biologically different. A man cannot conceive a child. Just no. And even if Adam did become pregnant with Eve that would make Eve’s Adam’s daughter, not his wife unless it was incest which we know is far from being Godly or biblical. And the part about God nursing Adam as a baby? I don’t even know where to begin with that so I think I’m just going to not even comment on that one.
But I think this is only the second and third most disturbing parts of the book. The most disturbing part being that the book focuses much on Lily/Lilith. I’ll admit I didn’t get it at first. I thought it was just a name. But then I knew that their had to be a reason for the name changes and I think that the book does mention at one point Lilith is Adam’s first wife. Huh? Where is that in the bible? Oh that’s right, nowhere.
It turns out there’s an unbiblical unfaith-based myth that Lilith was Adam’s first wife. She was very sinful and rebellious and pretty much a Satan worshiper. She didn’t want to submit to Adam and she drove Adam nuts until he finally pushed her out of the garden of Eden and then asked God for a new wife which is where Eve came from.
….yeahhhhh I believe that about as much as I believe in Greek mythology. I’m not buying it. At all.
But once I learned of this myth, the book did make more sense. The character Lily does seem a lot like Lilith. She is not godly. She is worldly. But in the book they tell her not to be Lilith, but rather to be Lily. Lily is godly. Lily chooses God. Lilith is the opposite. This here is where I am unsure how to process this book. I’m torn because a part of me is thinking that this is a work of fiction. The author is making a comment on a common belief/argument against Christianity made by atheists. A lot of atheists believe in the story of Lilith. They believe that she was Adam’s first wife and that the Catholic church deleted this story from the bible. Maybe this is a worldly view? Lilith represents the old world. Lilith represents sin, ungodliness, rebelliousness, and feminism. Lily on the other hand is the new world, one that follows God and accepts his love. They keep telling Lily to be Lily, not Lilith. Don’t conform to the world. Follow God.
They also make the point that no matter how broken or how far gone you think you are, you are still worthy of God’s love. He loves you no matter what. His love endures forever. Lily feels worthless since she is a human trafficking survivor and unable to have kids. But once she begins to know God she begins to see she is worthy and God loves her. I love this part of the book.
But if this is supposed to be a true Christian book — why bring up the whole Lily/Lilith thing at all? That’s dangerous. It could be taken out of context and as saying that yes this is true Adam’s first wife was Lily/Lilith. It is in other religious texts that are not a part of Christianity. Any true Christian believes that the bible is the one and only truth. You do not add or subtract from it. So in order for us to believe this strange story of Lilith, we need to turn to other religious works, which means adding to the bible, which is not at all Christian.
After writing this review, I think I like the book a bit less now. There are some parts I love and agree with and connect with, but when compared to the other parts it’s just not enough. A man like WM. Paul Young is in an important position as a Christian author where he can use his talent and skills and career to inspire others and teach them the word of God – but this isn’t really what he’s doing at all with this book. What he’s doing is confusing Christians and potentially harming those who don’t know God at all. He might not be doing it intentionally, but either way it’s downright dangerous. This is a book that if read at all, should be read with caution.