This review and summary of Questions of Perspective by author Daniel Maunz has been adapted from two previous posts. First is the spoiler free review, followed by the spoiler full review and summary.
Thank you so much to the author for providing me with a copy of this book in order to be able to provide an honest review.
If you are also a self published author and want to know how to get your book reviewed check out my guide for indie authors.
Spoiler Free Review
Questions of Perspective is an impressive debut novel from Daniel Maunz that deals with all the biggest questions in life. Is there a god? Is god good? What is the meaning of life? What is the importance of free will? Why do bad things happen to good people?
But forget all of that for a second because I want to bring up the most important part of this book, there’s a cat named Peaches who goes on hikes with its owner sans leash and doesn’t run away. So basically, it’s a fantasy novel.
There’s a lot of heavy subject matter in this book that may make you stop to think about these grand questions and philosophize about what you should be doing with your life but the story and the characters are also engaging enough that you can easily forget about all of that and just go along for the ride.
Questions of Perspective balances philosophy with escapism in a very entertaining and never heavy handed way.
As most people have, I’ve found myself questioning my career or life choices and therefore found myself lost wondering what it all means. The protagonist here is in that situation but dialed up to 11.
As Dave journeys to find himself and his place in the universe we see him go through phases that many of us have probably experienced as well. He’s pretty relatable even to non-lawyers.
The pacing of the novel is spot on. I never found myself questioning how we got from one event to the other and when the timeline jumps forward by years at a time it flows naturally.
But the thing I appreciate most about Questions of Perspective is how casually it handles the concept of god. The way Maunz handles faith and personifying a deity is reminiscent of Christopher Moore but with his own flair.
I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who’s tired of reading the same heroes journey. This is a unique story that catches you in the first chapter and keeps you waiting right alongside the main character every step of the way until the ending which is equal parts fantastical and down to earth.
Questions of Perspective Summary
Questions of Perspective stars Dave Randall, a lawyer who starts the book off having a pretty shitty day. He doesn’t realize it at the time but this is the day that his friend John becomes god.
What a way to start a book, I’m hooked. Tell me more!
Flashback to Dave and John bonding over their less than fulfilling careers. John possibly has Asperger’s or some other personality abnormality that makes him not the most approachable person to everyone in the office but Dave appreciates his bluntness and distaste for boring small talk.
I also cannot stand small talk so I already feel a kinship with the two leading men here. To be honest though I’ve never worked in an office, the thought of it makes my skin crawl. Just having to discuss niceties on my way to the coffee pot every day for the rest of my life? No, thanks.
So one day, Dave’s shitty day, John is no call no show to work. After a few days it starts to really be worrisome and Dave heads to his apartment to check on him. He sees that John’s car, keys, phone, everything of importance, including his cat Peaches, have been left at the home but John is nowhere to be found.
Dave decides to take the cat with him just in case he needs caring for and calls in John’s disappearance. The police arrive and make little effort to actually find him.
The evening before John went missing he had a very public fight with another lawyer, Todd. Flashforward to a year after the disappearance and Todd is fired for events stemming from that night. Dave is in line to take his position as partner.
Still not fully satisfied with his direction as a lawyer Dave decides to go for a walk and think about this turn of events. He bumps into the long missing John.
John super casually invites Dave to go get coffee with him where he says he needs to tell Dave something that he won’t believe, he needs to just prove it instead. So he allows Dave the temporary gift of omniscience and Dave is suddenly overwhelmed with every thought of every person that is, was, or ever will be. When he’s snapped out of it John tells Dave that he became god and that’s why he’s been missing.
Completely understandably Dave does not know how to process this experience so he spends a week in bed, barely keeping himself or the cat alive. Honestly, what else would you do after that?
Another lawyer comes to check on him and he decides it’s time to shower and go back to work. So he does, and quits.
He takes Peaches and they leave everything in his apartment behind and hit the road with no destination in mind.
Being an anti-social lawyer has earned Dave a fairly well padded savings account so he pays for a year upfront on a cottage rental in the country. He starts hiking with Peaches daily, just waiting for John’s promised return.
I absolutely adore Peaches, the most well behaved cat in the universe. If I could have a cat that would walk around with me outside without running away I’d be sooo happy.
John appears to Dave another year later. He tells Dave that he needs to do something more productive and fulfilling with his life than just be a hippie hiking everyday.
He also explains that he’s been struggling with what his duty as god is. He’s only been observing, preserving free will to the point that he’s done nothing at all. If that’s his role does the world even need god? He asks Dave to think about it and he’ll come back for an opinion later.
That’s a lot of responsibility for a mere mortal but Dave does take the wake up call and falls into the decision to become an elementary school teacher. He spends two years with Teach for America getting experience and the necessary certifications and begins to find life more valuable.
After getting a full time job closer to his country home he discovers that young school teachers are kind of party animals and he feels a little out of place, until he meets Abby at a happy hour he very reluctantly attends.
Him and Abby really hit it off and she goes hiking with him and Peaches and then he takes her to the animal sanctuary he volunteers at and if that first date doesn’t win the girl she’s a vapid monster.
After dating for a year and a half they get married and two years after that she stumbles upon a secret Dave’s been keeping from her.
Back when John last came to visit Dave wrote a bunch of questions to himself about the experience in a journal. Entries that look pretty darn insane to someone who does not know the situation.
Abby has to rush out to visit her mom but demands an explanation upon her return.
The next chapter detours into a tragic tale of an unrelated family that experienced far too much death and sadness in far too short a period of time. The father of the family, completely wrecked with grief and helplessness, suicide bombs a train.
The train Abby was taking home.
With Abby’s sudden death Dave is thrown into complete denial. He’s certain that John can and will allow her to return to life. He pleads with John, with god, for him to bring her back but gets no response.
He attempts to summon John by hiking the mountain at night. He gets injured because that’s what happens when you hike in the dark and John does not show.
He returns home and prays and prays and pleads with John saying that he’s owed an explanation and that he promised he’d return and never did.
John appears, but he’s not very John like anymore. He’s a pure energy being with a scary, booming voice. Until the cat meows.
Peaches’ cry brings John out of his scary GOD state and he resumes human form to pet the cat. After a brief conversation Dave realizes that John has shut off the empathy switch, he hasn’t been feeling the pain of everyone down on Earth. John says it was the only way to make omniscience tolerable.
With this revelation (which holy shit! that would explain so much!) John reaffirms that he will not mess with free will but that Dave does deserve a chance to set things better.
Time is turned back to the day of the crash and Dave has to figure out a way to save everybody. He calls Abby and hysterically begs her to stay away from any and all trains until he can get to her and sets out to kill the bomber.
He gets to the bomber on the train and can’t pull the trigger so he goes to talk him down instead. He’s successful, the bomber agrees to not kill everyone. Until two drunk assholes show up to trigger his hatred of humanity again and he’s about to set off the bomb when John intervenes. He tells Dave the exact right thing to say to save the situation, says he did everything right and that he shouldn’t fail because of two jerks and I wish everything was that understanding.
The bomb does not go off, the father goes on to be a productive member of society, and Dave makes it to Abby for a fresh start.
They return home safely and Abby is not ready to hear about all the god stuff. That is until she realizes that their cat is approximately 30 years old and still plays like a kitten. She hears about it all and believes every word.
John performs small miracles around the world now, like turning hurricanes away from coasts and curing cancer, things that are good but don’t alter free will. Everyone lives moderately happily ever after.
I was really impressed by Questions of Perspective. It takes a difficult and heavy subject, like is god good? and makes it light and entertaining while still thought provoking. Maunz builds the characters and relationships between them with ease and allows space for nuance.
It’s refreshing to read a debut novel that is unique. It’s not the same formulaic heroes journey we’ve read a thousand times before. This is a relatable story with meaning, one you can apply to your own life without having a moral shoved down your throat.
I highly recommend Questions of Perspective for anyone who’s ever struggled with why do bad things happen to good people.
5/5 cats 🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈
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