This is a very good series. I’m pleased Rikki gave me review copies.
Those of you who know me recognize I do not pull my punches. These books surprised me in a good way. Though it is targeted at teenage and YA girls (I think), this ol’ curmudgeon enjoyed the series a lot also. The main characters begin as teenagers and grow to adulthood throughout the three books. They go through many trials simply because they are so young and immature. Through much of the beginning of Karis, I simply wanted to smack one character or another ’long side the head. But those tribulations are part and parcel of those years in all of our development into adults (assuming we ever arrive at that level of maturity).
I came to know the characters well and enter into an empathetic relationship with them. This is superhero stuff, comic books, and all the rest of the silliness. But it’s not a silly story. The tale has worth because of the spiritual content. The characters grow in meaningful ways. There are plenty of twists.
The cover designs need some work, I think
I’d be surprised if they were very attractive to their target audience. They are professionally produced, and very functional, but the excitement, danger, and joy of life which pervades the story is not shown in the covers.
Karis, the 15 year old becomes an orphan
Shockingly orphaned at 15, here’s the blurb:
Tamara finally got what she’d always wanted, all it took was the complete disintegration of her life. Putting her life back together would take her places she never thought possible.
After witnessing the brutal murder of her family, 15-year-old Kingston native Tamara Weatherby is adopted by her father’s long-time friend, multibillionaire Paul Waterford–who just happens to moonlight as Krino, Kingston’s vigilante hero. Tamara quickly earns a role at Krino’s side, but she soon learns that her new occupational hazards are the least of her challenges; she must deal with now-envious friends, constant media attention, and the persistence of the man who took her family away. Over the years, Tamara meets and befriends all kinds of colorful superheroes and battles those who use their intellect or abilities–or their social standing–to harm others.
Through her weaknesses and struggles, Tamara finds strength, courage, and confidence that she never knew she had. But can she find the will to forgive her family’s killer?
**Content advisement: Though this is a book with strong, Christian values, there is, in an effort to keep characters authentic, some mild cussing. (Light PG-13).**
So this is a Christian Batman with Robin and Batgirl? No. First of all it’s not camp or comedic, though it is quite funny in places. This is a tale told as if it were real. About the content advisement: Personally, I wouldn’t call them strong, Christian values—but Tamera is a believer and it rubs off—eventually. For a Bible-thumping charismatic, like myself, the Christianity is quite tame. There’s no spiritual warfare, for example. However, the lives lived by Tamera and the rest are real. That’s what matters. The people who are believers take it seriously, and that’s a rare joy these days. I guess I’m too old and jaded. I can’t remember any of the cussin’ but maybe that simply shows how well the reality of the book shows through.
Flash, Tamera goes to college
As she grows up and goes away to school, here again is the blurb:
“Tamara is all grown up and moved out. Her archenemy has truly rehabilitated and they now enjoy a cordial relationship. With Kristin filling Karis’ boots in Kingston, Tamara enjoyed an uneventful first semester of college. But moving to St. Lawrence comes with a new identity and a new cast of villains to upset her semi-normal life: Adish, a mutant who can control fire; Apoctopus, a radioactive octopus; and David Fox, a man looking for revenge.
While her life as a superhero goes smoothly, Tamara’s personal life spins into turmoil. Her reputation is in constant danger and, for the first time since she witnessed her family murdered, she finds herself facing problems she cannot fight her way out of. The biggest wrench in her far-from-normal life, however, comes from her very best friend.”
This story is a lot more complex. As Tamera grows up, so do her problems. This book is a bit more far-fetched, but it’s still a great ride.
Erimentha, smacked down, Tamera’s life seems to continue to unravel
Now she’s married and pregnant, plus!+!+! This book is a fitting climax to a fun voyage of the mind. The blurb:
‘ “I miss it. I miss her. Putting the suit on again… Daniel, I miss Karis, so much,” I said quietly.
“What gets me the most, though, what I finally just realized is that nothing is falling apart without me out there with you and the rest of the team. Was I really that disposable? Did all that hard work and all those sleepless nights really mean nothing if no one notices that I’m even gone? Why hasn’t the NCFA begged me to suit back up and save the world? I’m supposed to be indispensable. I put in so much time, and effort, and blood, sweat, and tears. I should be indispensable. Why am I not” ‘
I want to be very careful not to spoil anything. I couldn’t put it down. The characters I’ve come to know so well move to a strong conclusion.
This is supposed to be the classic Christian sci-fi. I’m at 4-stars or a bit less. I know, “How can I say that?”
The cover I’d give 2.5 stars: poor typography, top half of book is white so the thumbnail disappears, the girl is not nearly as pretty as the image in my mind as I read the book, bad color, the graphic is meaningless, and so much more.
Is it Christian?
I think so. I think there’s a savior. But it’s a God without much power who doesn’t seem to have a relationship with His people outside Master/servant. Creator, yes. Almighty, yes. Savior, maybe in the second book. Friend, no. Empowering, no.
In fact, one of my main issues with the book is that the Sentinels seem to have more power in the world than their God has. My relationship with the Lord is more similar to a relationship with a Sentinel than it is to the Master Singer of this book. The active presence of the Lord in the book is largely missing.
It is a wonderful bit of sci-fi
It approaches the best of the space opera’s. It may well be that books 2 & 3 in the trilogy solve the spiritual questions just raised. In fact, there are several indicators that this is true, in Firebird.
The characters and relationships are wonderfully drawn
Firebird is an exceptional young woman, horribly abused emotionally and spiritually. Her strength of character is extremely attractive. There’s no way she’s the vacant-eyed waif on the cover. Brennen is what you hope a fine righteous young man should be. But all of the other characters, good and bad, are written with depth and discernment.
The world-building is exceptional
The geo-political construct is fascinating and well-done. The technological-scientific realities are very believable. The cultural vision is very rich. We see that some of the issues with political correctness and the fear of offending are very serious.
Though I think the Federation is supposed to be the good guys, they can’t be trusted. The Nataian culture is fascinating giving us the voyeurism of the reality shows as we watch it implode.
The titillation of telepathy
First of all, I must say this level of communication is one of my deepest hopes and desires. Of course, if I had any sense I’d be deeply afraid of the exposure—but I rarely do (consciously). I am certain this level of communication will be the norm in Heaven—for we will know as we are known.
However, placing this telepathic, empathic power in the hands of humans is terrifying for many, fraught with danger, and gets us focused on the creature rather than the creator. That level of oneness is immensely attractive, stimulating, and exciting. But it’s a counterfeit of the real thing. We are supposed to get this from the Lord through the Holy Spirit. It’s wonderful when it happens, but it’s not under our control—for good reason. So for non-believers it’s incredibly attractive. For believers, it is sadly less than real.
Nevertheless, this is a very good book. I hope my issues with book one will be resolved by reading books 2 and three of the trilogy.
Now the series gets really fun.
We meet the Honorable Ancestors: Stan and Lilia Archer. Here’s the blurb:
“I’m a killer living on the run. I don’t remember every face of every victim, but I remember this: that look in the eyes of someone facing their end, the mixture of fear, resentment, resignation. It was my job, just my job. I stole lives. Now they steal my sleep, my peace of mind, my soul. The men, the women and, God help me, the children. I am a haunted man.
This government asked too much from its soldiers. It asked too much from its citizens. It asks too much from me.
Now, I’m asking for something. To get my soul back.
There are as many ways to disappear as there are people, but no one could have predicted this.
Fire up her engines. Let’s get DarkStar Running.”
Stan, the Confederation Enforcer, is a piece of work
He’s Stasi from an even nastier empire, the Confederacy. These Enforcers make the Cold War seem pretty calm and kind. Stan’s primary task is to kill all the Trogs. As we find out quite a bit later, these are the believers—persecuted Christians hated and killed by the Confederacy, expelled by Providence, Christians who have become hated or laughed at by all. Stan intends to do his part and wipe them out. But then he’s ordered to take out a cruise liner with thousands aboard…
Lilia is a waitress
She’s also a Trog, and Stan gets a little reality orientation. Stan grabs her and escapes with her as a hostage. But what a lady she is!
Then God moves technologically!
This is not as strange as it sounds. Many of our technological advances, like vulcanization, came to us through believers who were inspired—in spirito, in the Spirit. In fact, my father tried to chase this down many years ago. He found that virtually every great scientific or technological breakthrough came out of nowhere by inspiration.
In 20 years of teaching digital publishing at the college level with my own lab, we went through more than a hundred Mac computers, printers, presses, scanners and all the rest—and I never had to call tech support except for one computer where the power supply blew up the first month. Apple sent out a man to my lab and fixed it in house for free the next morning. Is this because Macs are great (have no idea really), or that God blessed the tools I needed to do what He called me to do?
In addition, upon many occasions I have been absolutely stymied about why the software would not work, was locked up, or whatever. I was the expert to call, so it was just me and the Lord. A simple request to the Lord fixed the problem miraculously—without a touch of the mouse or keyboard. Occasionally I had to break a hand of the enemy to free up the computer. Certainly after the mind, a CPU is child’s play or much less. So, what I am trying to say is that what the Lord does with DarkStar is certainly within the realm of possibility.
Spiritually, this book is strong mainline or better. It is not lowered to evangelical stereotypes. This is just lives of faith lived out before us within a excellent tale of the future.
This is science fiction at its best!
Wonderful concepts, outrageous technology, compelling characters, evil bad guys, and all the rest. You should read this book!
The official blurb…
An Ancient Island Holds an Ancient Secret . . .
Nick Hennessy, a young Texas journalist yearning for his big break, finds himself in Europe–his assignment, to investigate the alarming disappearance of invaluable Grecian antiquities. Nick has the credentials–and cover ID–to unearth the truth. And he knows just the researcher to help him…
Carey Mathers, fresh from her studies in forensic archeology, has accepted a job with the prestigious Athens Institute for Antiquities–a dream come true, really, particularly when the Greek isle of Patmos, where the Apostle John received his vision of the Apocalypse, was a particular focus of her research.
Dimitri Rubinos, for whom the Greek islands represent his life, holds on by his fingernails to the family charter boat business. But his country’s economic chaos isn’t the only thing that has turned his world on its head…
Here we have a high quality example demonstrating my main concern about traditionally published Christian fiction.
The story is more than competently done. Davis Bunn is one of the true professionals in our industry. He knows all the nuts and bolts using them to craft an excellent story. The problem with the tale is the lack of spiritual power. It’s not a Christian story.
English: The Port (Skala) of Patmos Island, Greece (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It has all the pieces. It takes place on the Isle of Patmos. The historical explanations as well as the current culture are very interesting. The characters are very well described with depth. The relationships are compelling and intriguing. Some of the characters are obviously believers. But there is nothing of true spiritual power, merely religious emotion. God is not made real, because He is not really part of the story. This is about religion, not relationship.
The tale is told cleanly and up to Christian Bookseller standards. But it is all so boring—because the Lord never shows up and the Holy Spirit never reveals His presence in any way. I guess I need to coin a possibly new phrase. Instead of PC for politically correct, this book is RC for religiously correct–designed to offend no denomination. It reduces the story to pablum and I grew up into a need for meat and substance a long time ago. Baby food no longer satisfies. Solid food is all self-published these days because of RC realities.
As a result, the story is mere entertainment—very well-done entertainment. But by next week, I will have probably forgotten this pretty trifle. Because there’s really nothing here other than momentary diversion. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it could have been so much more.
I was given a review copy by Bethany in exchange for an honest review.