Wooten’s novel is an earnest coming-of-age tale as well as an inventive look at the contested borderland between science and faith.
Teenage Max is every parent’s dream: whip smart, he tutors his classmates in math and chomps at the bit to sign up for college science; a hard worker, he puts in extra hours at the local grocery store to help out his parents; he drives old ladies to church and helps them pay for food out of his meager salary; and he’s a devout Christian who attends his father’s parish every Sunday morning and can cite the Bible chapter and verse. But he’s also headed off to college, and his parents fear that the temptations of university life will change their boy wonder. Wooten’s tale tracks Max’s first year at Cedarbluff, a Christian college in Ohio. At Cedarbluff, Max befriends the Falstaffian Rollo, falls for the pugnacious Julie and battles fellow pastor’s son Brad in scriptural debate. But his most compelling interactions are with Professor Nowak, a physics teacher who tasks each new crop of students with the “Near Impossible Assignment,” a semester-long project intended to challenge and confound. Max’s assignment is simple: magnetize a lead ball. But the experiments he undertakes will bend the laws of nature, test his fledgling faith and upend his life. With Max, Wooten delivers a well-rounded, believable protagonist, and he surrounds his hero with compelling foils and game foes. Wooten’s dialogue is true-to-life, and his feel for pacing and dramatic tension is excellent.
The combination of religious writing and science fiction is not so unusual. Look at the “Left Behind” series for example. Success is in how the story is told. This book tells its story in a very interesting way —much more valid than the Left Behind series ever was. The author chooses a fine young man, a minister’s son, to tell this story about going away to college; being exposed to a variety of philosophies and religious doctrine. He is not the hackneyed rebellious son, but a young man who can and does think for himself. At college, he takes on a favorite physics professor’s challenge for major bonus points to compete in a “Near Impossible Assignment.” In doing so, the young man stumbles onto a wholly unexpected result—time travel. The professor is blown away by the results, as they team up to experiment while keeping it secret. What lies in the Earth’s future is startling to say the least, with some incredible plot twists.
Especially interesting is a bible study group that is run by this same professor. All discussion topics and discussion points must be backed up scripturally. A number of doctrinal issues come up, with an antagonist in the form of a wealthy son of a fabulously successful televangelist roiling the doctrinal waters. It is during these discussions where we see the author’s grasp of the scriptures and what they should really mean. Mr. Wooten is a true scriptorian and knows how to back up all sides of the group’s doctrinal arguments with scriptural references and interpretations. Reternity is a quick but thought provoking read. We rated it five hearts.
I've been worried about myself lately, worried I may have lost my capacity for wonder. I rarely watch movies anymore because they all seem so desperate to shock, surprise, and enthrall that they've essentially reached the limits for such things and are becoming repetitive. Books aren't as bad because I don't read thrillers, but I'm willing to bet Clive Cussler and his ilk are running out of ways to imperil Earth. But this book has either proven I can still be amazed, or it's added another layer to my cognitive callous. Either way, I am, at the moment, thoroughly amazed.
Reternity is the story of a young man named Max who has lived a very sheltered life as a pastor's son in a small Mayberry-esque town. As he graduates from high school and begins studying at a nearby university, his parents fear that his newfound interest in physics will test his faith. Their fears are calmed somewhat when they learn that his professor hosts weekly Bible studies, but their worries mount as his involvement in a science project quickly evolves into an obsession. On Max's part, he struggles with the idea that his discoveries could cause harm that would far outweigh any recognition he'd receive for it. His investigations take him, his professor, and the reader on an incredible journey that will bend the mind and enliven the senses.
This is truly an incredible book. It's uncommon to find others that share the belief that Science and God are compatible, and that's not the only difficult topic covered in this book (that particular issue is mainly tackled in the Forward). The Bible studies described shed light on things I hadn't realized had left me in the dark previously. Some of it may be upsetting to some readers, but I hope most will be open to discovering the truth for themselves.
Neal Wooten's coming-of-age story intertwines religion, science and the challenges of growing up. At its core, Reternity asks readers to question their own beliefs and how far they're willing to follow their own faith. The storytelling is simple and direct yet poses soaring questions about where we came from and where we are going, and the parallel roles science and religion play in guiding our footsteps through life.
The conclusion answers many of the questions raised earlier in the narrative in an unexpected eruption of facts, adventure, and salvation. The writer's research and interpretation makes the fantasy seem not only plausible, but relatable to anyone who has gone off to find independence and been left to rely on a moral compass. The story explores the delicate balance between fate and free will.
The story's hero, Max, his parents, friends, and college instructors are no different than millions of others on the same journey. Reternity is a rare postcard from our own futures with nuggets of advice about the road ahead from the souls that have gone before us.
There has always been a standoff between the dogmas of religion and the discoveries of science, especially in the genre of science fiction. One doesn't often find a science fiction novel written by an openly Christian believer. In Reternity, Neal Wooten has recently come up with a well-written and interesting science fiction novel that does exactly that. He has impressive credentials, too. A successful journalist, blogger, illustrator of books, and author, Wooten is a frequent contributor to online magazine The Indie Times. He has written three books. This one, Reternity, is his first work of science fiction.
His protagonist, 19-year old Johnny Maxwell, "Max," is a young student entering college, and he has been well prepared in Christian thinking by his father, who is a minister. Both his parents are apprehensive about him now that he is suddenly thrown to the world and its many temptations.
Max enrolls in a bible study program at Cedarbluff University and enters into many interesting debates with fellow classmates about different understandings of Christianity. The following year, he signs up for a science class, and the science professor assigns the class an "impossible project." He gives each student who volunteers a lead ball and tells them to figure out a way to make the lead ball become magnetic. Intrigued with this project, Max puts his heart and soul into it. On the internet, he discovers that lead is not magnetic because it does not have electron spin.
Max then builds several devices he thinks might induce electron spin into the lead ball through a flow of electrical energy. After several false starts, he finally sees results. He invites his professor to his home to see the results, and the professor is astounded! The lead ball didn't become magnetic--it simply disappeared. From here on, Reternity takes several surprising turns, as Max and the professor gradually come to understand what has happened to the lead ball and the potential value this discovery might have to science. Very enthused, they continue experimenting toward the ultimate test of the discovery.
In the final chapters, Wooten does a masterful job tying religion and science together and takes the reader on an adventuresome journey the reader will not soon forget.