This is a fun read. It’s a typical thriller with some very good Christian twists. Here’s the blurb:
A rally for a controversial presidential candidate.
A terrorist threat.
A nightmare of cataclysmic proportions.
Jack and Pamela Crittendon have hit the breaking point. After months out of work as a reporter, Jack is playing Mr. Mom and working part-time at Festival Arena with his survivalist friend Brian Shakespeare. Meanwhile, Pamela has gone back to work full-time while eight months pregnant. Having her recently widowed mother on hand isn’t making matters any easier.
With financial pressures boiling, Jack reports for duty at a rally for controversial presidential candidate Martin Sterling where he expects a mindless night on the job. But when Homeland Security picks up intel about a potential terrorist threat, Jack and Shakespeare are thrust into a life-or-death battle to save their own lives–and the lives of thousands of innocent people.
This third book in The Crittendon Files reminds us of the power of family, friendships and faith–and why we are never in as much control as we think.
This book will not change your life, but it’s definitely a step up for most current traditionally published Christian fiction.
This is merely entertainment
There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s expensive fluff. It’s positive, clean, and on the edge of boring. Creston is a good writer, but it’s like hoping to see something really good on TV or in the movies. It’s all aggressively heathen or pablum, in most cases. At least this is a good clean read.
Barely Christian, exotically speculative, this novel seems to be a concept looking for a story. As the main character is lost and blindly roaming a world of fear and the unknown, the reader never really finds out what is happening either.
The blurb sounds quite interesting:
“How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?
“Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system.
“But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out.”
The actual story is much less interesting. There’s far too much teenage angst. As in many modern movies, shows, and books, the strange, exotic, and weird takes the place of insight, growth, and transformation. But Nadine seems to be a good writer. Her future work might be really good.
Spiritually there is really nothing here. God occasionally drops thought into Parvin’s mind. But the whole thing is pretty hopeless. So, the Gospel is missing entirely.
This is book two of the Song of Searle series. The blurb is as follows:
Conor and Aine have barely escaped Seare with their lives. Conor knows he must return to find the harp that could end the Red Druid’s reign of terror, but in the midst of their escape, he and Aine are torn apart once more. Surrounded by despair and thrown into as much danger as they left behind, Conor and Aine must cling to the whispers of Comdiu’s plans for them and the homeland that depends on their survival. But at what cost? Will they learn to depend on Comdiu completely? Or will they give up hope?
I never read book one, The Oath of Brotherhood (though it sounds very intriguing). But it was no real hinderance. Actually, at the price of book one, I’ll probably never read it. $10 for a Kindle book is a bit extreme. This does make the print book more attractive, but I don’t read print any more. However, Tyndale (NavPress) gave me an Advanced Review Copy of the print book in PDF form in return for an honest review, and I’m glad for the opportunity. It was a very good read.
The characters are strong and believable. The main hero and heroine seem to be regularly almost overcome by hormones and emotional longings, but then it is YA. One of the heroine’s “gifts” is an overwhelming attractiveness to any male who sees her—which is irritating…certainly not a spiritual gift. But in general, the good guys (male and female) are strong, honorable, of good character, and so on. The bad guys tend to be dupes of the demons, or self-centered people only interested in power and wealth. Several of the characters are simply non-believers pushed around by their flesh. But in this day and age, that’s believable.
This is really an excellent book
This is epic fantasy the way I like it, almost—medieval technology and culture with gifted, spiritually strong warriors fighting an evil, occultic foe. The culture is intriguing and well described except there are few details about the economical/geographical side (agriculture, manufacturing, crafts, trade) of things.
But mainly, it has been a long time since I read a traditionally published book with good spiritual content. Of course there are problems. For example, I vaguely remember the mention of the name of someone I believe is the son of God/savior, but I may be remembering another book. He’s certainly not part of this one in any meaningful way. But Comdiu is recognizable as the Abba I love. So, it’s a mixed bag but not Christian (no savior, no christ, not christian by definition).
The problems come in with Comdiu’s gifts. Hearing from Him is presented as a very direct, a recognizable voice in your head giving powerful, clear advice and direction. Yet, the ability to hear God’s voice is a gift spoken of as magic. It is not available to the general populace—at least not by the end of this book. It’s attached to leadership. The book has an Old Testament level of content combined with an accessible God of love, humor, and compassion. But then the good guys protect their city by setting wards—which is normally an occult practice.
All the gifts have these strange problems. They are given to a person and that person exercises them at his or her discretion. These gifts can be relied upon, most of the time. But the Lord I serve gives gifts of power which are not predictable even though very real (and even more powerful than what is shown in this world with in the book). They are not permanent gifts of magical talents and abilities, rather they are powerful aid given as needed for service.
Plus, gifts in this book tend to look and feel more like normal fantasy fare: telepathy (one-way only, listening), scrying (distance viewing, but only by the enemy spirits and subject to the twists caused by the lying enemy), possession (only by the enemy), healing (very quickly wounds disappear and much more—healing restoration is available if even a spark of life is left).
However, the general spiritual feel is that this is all recognizable spiritual truth—and much of it is. God is presented well and favorably. The enemy is an unexplained evil spirit who possesses a person (and gets a new body to use as the old one grows old and/or useless) called the Druid.
But it is exciting drama played on a rich, thoroughly developed stage. It is spiritually strange to the place where teens might need help with discernment. I suggest parents read it first so they can intelligently discuss the book with their children. But, it’s clean CBA stuff without offense.
It doesn’t get much better for a Christian Science Fiction military thriller. The spiritual side of things is downplayed, but realistic. As it all plays out in the rest of the series, the evangelical side of the hero might well set up more clearly in view. But the key is that it is done well in this first book.
The military side is wrenchingly violent with ugly nasty aliens as it would be if this scenario really happened. The spiritual side of the aliens are really not known as there is no explanation for the alien presence.
Evil is more present in the black-armored, Russian super warriors. But the characterizations are very well done. The people are realistically drawn and many are compelling.
Scott Remington is a true, Godly hero. He seems to be the only believer in the military.
But that’s enough. I don’t want to spoil anything. All you need to know is that aliens have invaded and Earth is fighting back.
For a scifi military thriller, this book is truly excellent. My only beef is that the rest of the books in the series are too expensive. I’ve got them on my wish list, but at $5 for book 2 and $7 for books 3 & 4 (as they say around here in southern Minnesota) they’re a bit spendy.
There is a long, but interesting, post about long tail theory in Publishing Perspectives this morning. The theory is 10 years old, according to the article. If you do not know, the basic idea is that long keywords of three to six words can capture an entire specific niche. Actually, that is greatly overstated and clouded with a lot of my own experience—but it’s close enough.
As a theory it ranks right up with using keywords in titles and posting headings. Marketers have been using this wisdom effectively for quite a while. The news in the article linked above is that it no longer is used much by the Big Six, at least it’s not nearly so effective.
Christian speculative fiction, Christian science fiction, and Christian fantasy are very small niches
The superstar Christian authors in these genre seem to be into horror more than anything. More than that, those not doing mind-bashing tales of unbridled evil write about a powerless, palatable Christianity. I reviewed The Patmos Deception recently, and it typifies this type of book. The spiritual content is religious not real, life-changing Christianity. I must confess that I’ve never made it beyond a few chapters of any Ted Dekker book, so I can’t talk about them—but they are too popular to have much spiritual truth in them IMHO. But I’ve read many Frank Peretti books until I gave up—partially because the topics didn’t interest me any more and a lot because of the non-reality of the Christianity depicted. For people who have had a ministry in deliverance and spiritual warfare, Peretti is simply sad—talking about real problems with non-real solutions. But that discussion is far beyond to content of this post.
In Twitter, long tale hashtags are minimally used
#christianspeculativefiction #christiansciencefiction and #christianfantasy are used a little—to good effect. But Xian High fantasy, Xian Epic Fantasy, and Xian Space Opera are not used at all. To further this end, I started eight Twitter Lists:
Please use and subscribe to these lists and use these as hashtags, as well as keywords. Maybe we can get something going. I must confess I don’t use Twitter much anymore because it is so littered with repetitive promotion, but let me know what you think of this idea.