“Cradle and All” by James Patterson was unlike many of the books I typically read, having heavy religious themes. I’m not sure it’s accurate to say that I “enjoyed” reading this book, but it definitely held my attention and at many times I was riveted. I had to keep reading, I had to know what was going to happen instead of putting it down and pouring myself another cup of coffee.
The basic premise is good and evil. Not some abstract form or supernatural myth of good and evil, but down-and-dirty Satan vs. God. The story centers on two young teenage girls: Kathleen and Colleen. One in America, the other in Ireland. Both girls are virgins; both are pregnant. According to the prophecies made at Fatima more than 100 years ago, one of these girls is carrying the child of God, while the other is carrying the child of Satan. It looks to be End of Times, especially as the world of this story is battling plagues, famine, and other devastating disasters.
As a reader, we get to experience the first-hand account of these events through Anne, a former nun turned Private Investigator. Her sections of the story are told in first-person, while the rest of the book is in third. At times, I found the switching of the tenses a bit jarring, but for the most part, once I was about a 1/3 of the way in, it became smoother for me.
I found this to be a quick read, primarily because Patterson kept the reader in suspense, waiting to find out until the very end which girl is carrying The Beast and how it will all play out. There’s definitely disturbing subject matter in “Cradle and All” including suicide, violent death, and assault, so although it’s classified YA, I wouldn’t recommend it for younger teens.
As for adults who shy away for YA because it’s “too young” — this book is not. It definitely is mature subject matter.