Monday, December 27, 2010

book review: Immanuel's Veins by Ted Dekker

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a huge Dekker fan.   His work in Christian fiction has been ground-breaking to say the least.  But in the last few years I have noticed a shift in Ted that seems to border on self-importance.  From  his web-site, to his yearly gathering, to his physical appearance in photos, it seems to me like he has become somewhat of a literary rock star.  Also, the last two books I have read...BURN and BONE MAN'S DAUGHTERS have been pretty disappointing.
However, with that being said, I still look forward to reading a new Dekker novel as soon as they come out. I think that is one of the hallmarks of a good author...the anticipation of the book before you read it.  Ted has redeemed himself, at least in this readers eyes, with IMMANUEL"S VEINS or IV has members of Ted discussion form "The Circle" call it.  It is really good book from start to finish.
Let me start off with the bad.  There are few complaints that come to mind after reading the book.  My biggest is the time in which the setting takes place.  I'm not talking about the time period either.  I mean from the start of the story to the end doesn't cover but a few days real time.  this is not really a bad thing in itself, because once you read the book and get a feel for what is going on, it obviously doesn't need to be drawn out, but...this leads to the major flaw with the love story.  Basically it isn't fleshed -out enough.  There just aren't enough pages in the book to do it properly and move the plot along and the pace which makes the book so great.  The two main characters just don't have enough time together to make the star-crossed lover thing all that believable.  The only other gripe I have with the book is a minor one.  Sofia, one of the supporting characters isn't given nearly enough story.  Thea reader has no idea at the end why she did the things she did.  Trust me when you finish, that will be on your mind.  Knowing Ted though he may come back to this character in a future story.
Now, I move on to the good.  The setting of the story is a step in a different direction for Ted. It works.  The book makes the 18th century come alive in the readers mind.  Also, true to form Ted throws in just enough morsels of his works in the circle trilogy to tie this book to that series.  If you haven't read any of that series,  do it now.  Not only will you understand some of the back story for IV, but you will be thoroughly entertained.  the ending of the book is very heart felt. It has redemptive quality that the reader will want to soak up.
Overall, this is one of Dekkers best works.  I strongly suggest to anyone to pick it up for a good read.  It will be in my library for years to come, as i am sure to reread it.  Hopefully there will be a sequel to answer some of the questions left with the ending.  Knowing Ted it is already in the works.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

book review: Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer

In Broken Angel, Sigmund Brouwer has crossed the genres from Sci-Fi to Religious fiction to Thriller and back again.  What makes this novel special is that he does it so flawlessly.  The story is set somewhere in a non-descript future, in a new world.  A world divided between over the top, extreme, religious zealots and the outsiders they try to keep out of their new country known as Appalachia.  Not only do they try to keep the outsiders out, but they also want to keep the citizens of Appalachia in....and under their control. 
This brings us to Caitlyn.  Caitlyn is not your normal girl. But then again, this ain't your father's America.  Caitlyn is being pursued by not only the outsiders, but also the leaders of Appalachia, who will stop at nothing to gain control of what she possesses. Just what that is, and why she must not fall into their hands dead or alive, as her father told her, is shrouded in secrecy.  Secrets that Caitlyn's father, Jordan, can’t bring himself to tell her. Not what happened before she was born, or why she is the way she is. He says he just wants to save her life, and to give her a chance to live on the Outside and be free. Can she believe him? She has discovered that might not be the case.  So she sets out on a journey against time and man.  It is a race of life and death, and Caitlyn is all alone...or is she? Can she make it safely back Outside before the self-righteous leader of Appalachia has her in his grip?
This book is very well written.  The characters really make you want to learn more about them, and their back story, what makes them tick so to speak.  When it comes right down to it, that is the meat and bones of any good book.  That is exactly what Broken Angel is..a really good book.  It sort of takes a few pages to get into the flow, but after that it is a roller coaster ride.  The story moves at break-neck speed, motivating along to its thrilling conclusion.  Which, by the way, I found to be somewhat being a father and all.
The only other books of Brouwer's that I have read before this one were, Out of the Shadows and The Last Disciple.  Both of those were very enjoyable reads in their own right, but they were also very different kinds of books than this.  Broken Angel is the first book in this saga.  And I can't wait to get my hands on the next one.

Friday, December 24, 2010

book review: The Walk by Richard Paul Evans

I must admit that Richard Paul Evans is one of my favorite authors.  I have read many of his books before and found at least some level of enjoyment in all of them.  The latest book, The Walk, however has sort of left me with a bad taste in my mouth.  I want to start off by admitting that I didn't read the book in the traditional sense.  I listened to it on CD at work.  I think that it is the best way to enjoy one of his books, because as talented as Richard Paul Evans may be as an author, he is just that much better at bringing his stories to life through narration.  If you come across one of his books where he is the one reading it, I suggest you give it a try.
OK, lets start off with the book.  The first third of the story is a heart wrenching tale of love and loss.  I imagine there will be a lot of misty eyes, when tragedy strikes Allan.  I have a few qualms with this part of the book.  Although it is a truly touching love story, somethings kinda require the reader to suspend belief and worse fill in the missing details for oneself.  First off, Michal, Allan's wife, asks him in one scene for some money to be transferred into her account.  To which Allan confirms that she hasn't been keeping up with the bills.  This leads the reader to wonder if there may be some deep rooted meaning behind her lack of financial responsibility or what she has been doing with all the money.  Almost as if there could be the possibility of some dark undercurrent to the relationship of which the protagonist is unawares.  But, this topic is never fully broached.  It is not really discussed until, just days mind you, after his wife's untimely death that Allan's home is foreclosed on.  Can you say huh?  Foreclosed on and he didn't see it coming?  How did that happen you ask?  Well, your guess is as good as mine, because the book doesn't give you a clue.  Another Hollywood moment is in the book where Michal just happens to be in her accident while Allan is in the middle of the biggest sales-pitch of his career.  Of course he has to run out and leave the meeting in his, supposed best friend and business partner's hands.  And that moves us on to that partner, Kyle.  How exactly did Kyle steal the company in the short time Allan was out of work with his wife?  How does he expect to run an ad agency when he is the business guy and Allan is the ad guy?  Again the book gives you no clue on these sort of important details.  To suspend belief even further, the only friend Allan has left is Faline, a super-gorgeous model with a heart of gold that Kyle hired to be office manager.  At one point in the book she tells Allan she is going on a photo shoot, even though she is a full time employee of Allan's company.  On top of that she handles all of his financial affairs, of which he is either too grief-stricken, naive, or just plain in too much of a hurry to get out on the open road, to do himself.  One of which is to check and see if he even has any money in the bank before using in debit card.  All of this, of course, after Allan tells her he is basically closing down the company and she won't have a job anymore.  Can you say far-fetched?
The last two-thirds of the book reads like an old Franklin W. Dixon Hardy Boys novel.  All the main character does is eat with every waking breath.  Evans goes into painstaking detail to describe every little detail of this walk....monotonous detail.  One of the characters that Allan meets on the road is a waitress with a name tag that reads Flo.  I won't delve into this too much for those who haven't read the book, but her story is stole directly from Evan's novel Finding Noel...almost word for word.
With all these flaws I have mentioned, I haven't got to the most egregious yet.  I had to check my copy to see if I hadn't gotten the unabridged version.  On Amazon is the first time I saw that this was just part one of four.  No where did I see this mentioned.  I must say that it was a big letdown.  Almost feels as if the publisher is taking advantage of the reader.  The next book in the series will not come out until April 2011.  My question is six months from now will anyone even care?