I am probably one of the few people in class yesterday who did not have a very passionate dislike of this book. I will agree that I thought The Sparrow was better, I do not believe that the specific failings of Children of God have anything to do with Russell's literary abilities. Maybe I was just able to appreciate the fact that this book, while clearly science fiction, was not as hardcore into the genre as some of the others we have read. I slightly disagree with the notion that the theme of the book is “God is there is you believe in him and he’s not if you don’t”. I think Russell was aiming for a slightly more ambiguous message: No one knows if he is there at all. Jut because you believe, as Emilio did through most of the first mission, doesn’t mean that God will be there for you, and just because you don’t believe, as Emilio does after the first mission goes to pieces, doesn’t mean he still won’t give you something beautiful, i.e. the music. I think that Russell’s point with the music was not to wrap things up neatly and have Emilio believe in God again, because I don’t think he ever gets back to that place.
I agree with the conclusion that Russell was instead saying, “Be careful what you wish for”. They went all the way to Rakhat because of the music and they all had to endure so much death, suffering, and pain and in the end what do they get? Music. Its kind of a cynical way of saying, well you asked God for this and here it is, whether you like it or not. I would have liked to have Russell made Emilio’s character a little more disappointed with the music at the end, that yes it’s beautiful but was it really worth it? What, if anything did it change? I don’t think she explored that as much as she could have. Sequels usually aren’t as good as the first one was and, while I enjoyed Children of God, I feel The Sparrow did a better job at fully exploring its themes and really making the reader think about things even after they were done reading. Children of God leaves you wondering, but not in the same way. I agree that perhaps it could have ended with a bigger bang or a bigger twist, but I think Russell’s intention was to have the ending be as plain and simple as the whole thing started: with a beautiful piece of music and a question about what it means.