Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Eclipse by Richard North Patterson

Eclipse is a well-written fictional account of an African country being brutalized by a corrupt government and military, as well as a huge oil conglomerate. The country, Luandia, apparently has many similarities to present-day Nigeria so, although this is a work of fiction, much can be learned about the difficulties that Nigeria, and other African countries (Zimbabwe comes to mind) are facing.
The story is told through the view of a white American lawyer, Damon Pierce, who has been in love with Marissa Brand, a biracial American married to Bobby Okari (the hero in the story), ever since meeting her many years earlier. When Bobby is thrown in prison, falsely accused of murder, Marissa asks Damon to help get Bobby out. Damon, going through a divorce and feeling the need for more purpose in his life, decides to go to Luandia. Of course, it is very dangerous, he is put in impossible situations, and he still is in love with Marissa. The country's president (or Saviour as he is called) is completely crazy and corrupt (Mugabe?) and so is the oil company and apparently, according to the author, any country that uses oil.
The preachiness gets a little heavy-handed at times (oil is bad) and I found it difficult to feel anything for the characters. I think that the author could have used their difficult situation to create compassion for them much more than he did. Instead we are treated to the love affair between Damon and Marissa without really caring about it.
I did like learning more about the difficulties that many African countries are facing and feel that the author's writing style is very good. However if you are looking for a book that makes you feel good, this is not it. The ending is depressing, their situation is depressing, and it's hard to relate to the characters. Also, there were several f-words and some very graphic violence during the massacre of Bobby's village and the affair between Damon and Marissa, all of which make this book rated R.

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