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