I wanted to like this book. I really did. The plot—an America ruled by Christian fundamentalists and biblical law—was ripe with possibility. Unfortunately, The Punishments failed to live up to it. There is at least one scene that borrows heavily from a scene in George Orwell’s 1984 (if you’ve read it, you’ll recognize the similarities instantly). I found that a bit annoying as it threw me out of the story I was reading, but it happened very early on, so I was willing to overlook it.