Review: Betrayed


I tend to avoid Christian fiction because it is generally very poor. I’m not the only person that feels this way, there’s a bunch of articles on sites like Christianity Today that also lament this. A lot of the reasons they give are things I noticed in this book.

First, the writing itself is pretty bad. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if this was the first draft of the book. There are sentences that don’t make any sense. I had to read entire paragraphs multiple times just to understand them because the phrasing wasn’t clear. It shouldn’t take this much work to follow a plot. I was constantly rearranging things in a way that sounded better in my head, instead of reading the story. It was also hard to be really invested in the story because there was a lot of filler. About 100 pages could have been cut from this story, easily. I also don’t like stories that misdirect so clumsily. There was a lot of “and then the tall sinister man laughed maniacally behind the scenes.” Well, not literally, but it was certainly very mustache-twirly.

The heroine was also really ridiculous. I kept wanting to smack her in the face. She was unrealistically naive, especially when she rails about her sister being the naive one. She was almost worse! She ran from man to man, continually being betrayed by them, and then would turn tail and run to the next man. I could tell who the “bad” man was from the very beginning, and near the end it was pathetic how the “bad” man would swear and be unbelieving in God while the “good” man was Christian and had Christian faith (and no cussing or innuendos!). You can always tell who the good people in a Christian novel are because they are always talking about faith.

Speaking of faith, that part of the story was really shoe-horned in. Are there guidelines with Christian fiction with how much Bible they need to add to the story for a Christian publisher (this book was published by Tyndale, a pretty big one) to accept it? It really wasn’t relevant for the characters to go on and on about different Bible stories. I was trying to think about books that had Jewish characters, or just other religions, and I never remember it being so inorganic. I’ve actually read a lot of stories with Jewish characters and it never feels like I’ve been beaten over the head with it.

Another bummer about the book was that there were too many characters with no personality. It was hard to keep everyone straight because it was a lot of faceless people. Ironically, the character most full of life was the one killed off at the very beginning of the book. It was easy to get an idea of how she was, how she reacted to things, and what her “off screen” activities might have been. Everyone else was either Good or Bad.

There was a lot of promise in this story. The bones of it were very interesting, and it would have been even better if the good and bad male lead characters had been reversed. That would have been a twist that I wouldn’t have seen coming and would have been interesting. It would have benefited from a lot of editing. I also felt like the stakes in the book were over-hyped so much that when we finally got to it, it was a bit of a disappointment.

Despite all of the things that didn’t work for me about this book, the ending was actually pretty great. And by ending, I don’t mean the part where Vicki hooks up with Mr. Studly Good Man, but the final two or three paragraphs where we get a tag of what happens to Mr. Sinister Bad Man. THAT was excellent, and I had originally rated the book 3 stars just on the basis of that ending, until I began really thinking about it and realized it really deserved a two.

2 stars.

This book fulfills the book your mom loves and book with a love triangle requirements for the challenge.

Review: Imaginary Jesus


When I first got my Kindle, I thought the free ebooks were awesome, and I regularly scoured the free list and looked up websites that also had lists of free books, and I pretty much downloaded them indiscriminately. That is how this book came into my possession. I needed to find a book whose author had the same initials as I do for the challenge, and there were two books with MM authors, this one and another. This seemed the most interesting, but I didn’t read a synopsis or anything.

So I began the book, and within the first chapter I was completely baffled. “What have I started reading?!” was my initial thought. The book essentially starts off as a guy, eating a vegan meal in a “communist” cafe in Portland, with Jesus sitting across from him, listening to music on an iPod. So you know, already I was caught off guard. Then a burly man comes in and strikes up a conversation with them, then accuses Jesus of being imaginary. A brawl ensues, with Jesus making an escape on foot. Then, the burly man introduces himself as the Apostle Peter and they take off after the escaped Jesus. There are talking donkeys, time travel, mysteriously appearing guys on motorcycles, and reformed prostitutes. And about 100+ “imaginary Jesuses”, all depicting different stereotypes of how people envision Jesus.

I think this would have been a great book if it had not been a novel. There were some good insights about Jesus and suffering, and about compartmentalizing Jesus and removing the context of the actual time that he lived in. But the fictionalized aspects were so nutty that it made me want to dismiss the whole thing altogether. A tube race down a snowy mountain, where two Jesuses need to battle it out theologically, until one is eaten by a bear? I wish I was making that up. And the ending went soft on real insights. It makes me cringe when people literally put words into Jesus’ mouth, too. He spends a chapter or two ragging on Mohammed and the Book of Mormon, when he essentially does the same thing. Yeah, he doesn’t set up a religion, but don’t smack talk “Conversations With God” if you are going to slip into the same narrative.

“Wouldn’t it be great if someone wrote a sort of semi-autobiographical novel comedy thing instead of a Sunday school lesson for once? Wouldn’t that be cool?” (Chapter 31)

Well, I guess you did it.

2 stars.

This book fulfills the book you own but have never read, and book written by an author with the same initials as you requirements for the challenge.