The Son: Philipp Meyer

More likely than not, you’ve seen at least the commercials for ‘The Son’, which AMC has made into a series. It stars Pierce Brosnan (my mom’s all time favorite celebrity crush).

The novel takes place as three, separate generational stories. Each is told via a member of the McCullough family in an every other chapter format. Story #1 is that of Eli McCullough. We follow Eli from a boy until far into adulthood. In 1849, 13-year-old Eli is kidnapped by Comanche Native Americans. Readers follow this brutal path with him as he fights to survive.

Story #2 is that of Eli’s son, Peter. Without having had as tragic a life as his father did, Peter finds it difficult to relate to the man they call The Colonel. Where Eli is strong, Peter is weak. Most of the Colonel’s endeavors make Peter cringe. But, a time comes when, in Peter’s eyes, the Colonel has gone too far. Then, Peter has to make a choice between family and conscience.

Story #3 is of J.A. McCullough. She is the Colonel’s great-granddaughter and only gets a few years to have with him. At the time of J.A.’s story, women are seen & not heard, at home & far from the workplace. But, as the family runs short of male heirs, it’s up to her to salvage the family’s name and wealth.

While each story contains its own drama, each character is quiet similar to the one before him or her. The McCulloughs fight for what they have, want, and/or can’t have. Sometimes they take the hardest road and a few times the easiest. During the time period for all combined, their families story could be of any family in the South trying to make their way. Few survived. But, in our (fictional) historical account, the McCulloughs were one of the few.

First, sensitive readers beware, there is an incredible amount of violence & sex throughout the book. Due to the time period, racial slurs were the norm. The book has them in abundance towards all groups excluding Caucasian.

By far the most violent is the time period of Eli with the Comanche. It is downright brutal. Perhaps it’s historically accurate. I never fact-checked and read it as fiction. Eli is both likeable & detestable depending on which stage of his life you’re reading about. Peter is the most likeable and could be considered a hero, I suppose. J.A., to me, was the least likable. She doesn’t come across as the type of person that anyone would want to know.

The plot was well-developed and, though I read reviews by some who disliked the format, I had no trouble with the switches in time and the back & forth of the chapters. The only thing I double-blinked about was the dialogue with the Native Americans. It was portrayed as if they spoke fluent English which is difficult to believe.

Putting the gratuitous violence aside, I enjoyed the mystery side of the plot. It truly had me guessing as to where the author was going with it. I did, however, think the book was way too long. I would have rather read about only Eli & Peter. But, at over 500 pages, it was a bit much. I preferred the book over watching the series. I have to give it 4 stars for being ambitious and original.

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