Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tunnel Vision

Tunnel Vision by Gary Braver
Tom Doherty Associates, 2011
Hardcover, 384 pages
ISBN-13: 9780765309761

Following a biking accident on icy Boston streets, grad student Zack Kashian lapses into a coma. When he wakes up on Easter, months later, muttering the Lord's Prayer in the original Aramaic, the media is set abuzz about the "Miracle Man." Religious fanatics flock to Zack's hospital bedside, though he claims to be an atheist.
Zack's revival also catches the attention of Dr. Elizabeth Luria, who heads up a small team of neuroscientists secretly researching near-death experiences (NDE). Their objective: to determine if there is anything to the claims of NDE victims about floating down tunnels into the celestial light and meeting spiritual beings. Is all that evidence of the afterlife? Or is it just neurobiology, as Sarah Wyman, one of Luria's young researchers suspects.
For personal reasons, Luria is desperate to prove the afterlife exists. So are her wealthy, evangelist backers, who can't wait to announce the greatest discovery in human history: that God exists. A discovery that would at last reconcile science and religion. A discovery that would end the world's religious strife and unite all humanity.
Yet Zack's experiences are anything but heavenly. While he and Sarah struggle to understand his horrific out-of-body experiences, they have no idea that sinister forces have taken an interest in them. Forces to whom near-death experiences are utter blasphemy—deceptions by Satan himself. They enlist a menacing agent who, in the name of God, will stop at nothing to terminate the project and all involved.

My Thoughts:
In Tunnel Vision by Gary Braver an atheist graduate student, Zack Kashian, lapses into a 12 week coma following a bicycle accident. He attracts the interest of religious zealots when he says The Lord's Prayer in the original Aramaic while still in the coma. He later finds himself involved with a team of neuroscientists who are being privately funded by an evangelist to research near-death experiences (NDE) in an attempt to prove that people are wired to find God. Another religious group hires an assassin to kill those involved in the project. Zack finds himself inadvertently caught in the middle of a war between science and two religious extremes. And everything isn't quite what it seems...
This is a fast-paced scientific/medical thriller based on current research in neuroscience that people are wired to find God. Author Gary Braver, the pen name of Gary Goshgarian, does an excellent job keeping the suspense going as the risks increase.  Additionally there are plenty of clever plot twists. The science behind the novel was obviously well researched, as are the religious discussions. The large amount of theology in the book might bother some readers, but they are handled well and tie in completely to the plot. This one is a page turner!
Highly Recommended
Source: Won a copy from TOR at Caribousmom

It was the dead man - Karen's John Doe, his toe tag in her pocket - still naked from the waist up, still barefoot, EKG electrodes still visible on his chest - shuffling down the empty corridor toward the exit with no pulse, no heartbeat, no blood pressure, no body functions, flatlined and moving on his own power. Prologue, pg 16-17

"Thought I'd died and gone to heaven."
"You did. Two jacks staring at you from Anthony's hand, and you draw another. Don't you believe in counting?" Damian said. "Bro, you take some wild-ass risks."
"But I won," Zack said.
"Yeah, on pure luck. 'Least you don't have to play beer money for a while."
"More like blood money. Found a clinic that pays thirty bucks a pint."
"You mean you're selling your blood?"
"I'm down thirty-six hundred on my Discover card, and they're threatening court action."
"Maybe you should stop gambling." pg. 18

In a protracted moment, Zack saw the fatal error. His front tire slammed into the jagged edge of a pothole. In the next instant—played out in weird slow motion—the front wheel snapped to the left, sending him flying over the handlebars and coming down dead smack on the top of his head into the base of the crosswalk lights.
In a fraction of a second, Zack was suddenly looking down from someplace above, seeing himself lying crumpled across the curb with his head at the base of the pole and his bike on its side, the front wheel at a crazy angle. In that sliver of awareness, he knew he was viewing things from an impossible perspective. And just as he tried to make sense of it, the moment blinked to total black. pg. 20-21

"This is Kyle Kerr. I'm the resident physician at the emergency center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Your son Zachary is here. Unfortunately, he was in a bicycle accident and is in our intensive care unit." pg. 22

"What if this is punishment?" she asked.
"Punishment for what?"
"For not believing. What if this is God getting back at us?"
"My guess is that this was an accident pure and simple," Kate said. "You're a dedicated teacher who does volunteer work for abused children. If God's in a punishing mood, He's got the wrong person." pg. 27

"If something good happens, people claim their prayer was answered. If something bad happens, it's because your prayer wasn't good enough. It's all a sham. God's a sham." ....
Damian put his hand on Maggie's shoulder. "He'll wake up," he said. "God has faith in him."pg. 33

"And what do you think are the motivations of evil?"
"I never thought about that. I guess lots of motivations - power, money..."
"No, only one: revenge. It is the one true source of evil in the world. All other motivations - power, money, lust - they're mere variations. Revenge. It's what Satan taught mankind. It's his sole motive: getting back at God...." pg. 52

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