Wonders Never Cease by Tim Downs
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Number of pages: 310
My copy: paperback, review copy from Booksneeze
“It’s true what they say, you know: If you talk to God, you’re religious; but if you hear from God, you’re schizophrenic.”
When a car accident leaves a famous movie star in a coma, nurse Kemp McAvoy thinks he has found his ticket to the life he’s always wanted. As a med school dropout who was on his way to becoming an anesthesiologist, Kemp has the knowledge to carry off the crazy plan he concocts: adjust the star’s medication each night and pretend to be a heavenly visitor giving her messages. He recruits her agent and a down-and-out publisher to make sure the messages will become the next spiritual bestseller and make them all rich.
But his girlfriend’s daughter, Leah, keeps telling people that she is seeing angels, and her mother and her teachers are all afraid that something is wrong.
Before it’s all over, they’ll all learn a few things about angels, love, and hope.
* * *
I invest a lot of emotions when I read a book. I am very particular with characters, and strong characters always make a mark in me, even if the plot is typical. Most of the books I marked as favorite are books that leave me both sad and satisfied at the end, books that I felt that the characters were not only people inside a book, but people who have become my friends.
When I saw Wonders Never Cease up for grabs at Book Sneeze, I grabbed it because I thought this is one of the books where I would find friends. I figure, it’s a book about impersonating an angel, and there’s got to be a lot of hilarious moments here, and redemptive moments as well. The blurb alone sounds like a movie, and it seems like a heartwarming read. Spoiler warning here on out!
I really wanted to like this book. I really, really wanted to. But somehow, as I read, I find myself feeling very, very annoyed at the sheer ridiculousness of the characters. Kemp McAvoy is a nurse with an MD, and he’s always been dissatisfied with his life. Natalie Pelton, Kemp’s girlfriend, is struggling to make the ends meet while raising her daughter Leah, who suddenly sees angels. Kemp shows no care over Natalie’s concerns, and instead chooses to focus on how Lattes with God, a book he found in the nurses’ break room can be so popular when he feels it’s full of crap. When he meets the comatose Olivia Hayden, he gets an idea to impersonate an angel and tell Olivia to write a book that will be published and be even bigger book than Lattes with God. This brings in a lot of complications because Kemp can’t stop only thinking about himself, and pretty soon there’s a sort of mafia-like guy in the deal (with a name that sounds even more mafia-like: Tino Gambitto), a janitor, a neurologist who suddenly disappears, not to mention a teacher who’s attracted to Natalie, and a school counselor who doesn’t believe in God.
I never felt any connection to any character in the story, not even the “good guys” and the underdogs. I could give a bit of credit to the plot, but characters who I couldn’t like or relate to just made it blah, for me. I wanted to know: where were Natalie’s parents? Why is Kemp so stubborn? Is it only because of family? I felt that none of the characters were given enough depth just so the story can move. I couldn’t figure out who the real protagonist here was — is it Leah? Is it Natalie? I’m pretty sure it isn’t Kemp.
Faith issues were poorly dealt with, too. I thought there would be a redemption scene at the end, but there was sadly none. Some characters discussed the kid’s visions of angels, and the idea of being willing to believe, but it felt weak, almost forced. I have a feeling none of the characters there were really even believers, not even Natalie, or Emmet the janitor. Furthermore, the repercussions of Kemp’s actions didn’t seem like it happened because it was simply wrong, but because he just wasn’t smart enough and he’s too greedy.
The ending would have been heartwarming, if the money given to Natalie and Leah were not taken from extortion. I mean, seriously, the end doesn’t justify the means. Just because you’re giving money to help someone doesn’t excuse the reasons how you got it. Even if Kemp and his partners deserved to be conned, I don’t think it was an excuse to extort money from them, by wanting in in the operation and threatening them. I feel this sets a poor example to the readers. This is supposed to be Christian fiction, right? Or maybe I’m mistaken?
I really, really wanted to like this book. I swear, I really did. But in the end, whatever wonder this book wanted to give just didn’t reach me. I give props to the plot with potential, but everything else just just felt short. Maybe this would have been better if it was made into a movie.