For a while I’ve wanted to read some Christian fiction to see what the quality was like. It had been a long time since I’d read any Christian novels. The last I recall were three by Ray Blackstone starting with Flabbergasted that followed the developing relationships of a group of young Americans, one of whom served as a missionary in South America. I quite enjoyed those books.
Apart from the lack of swearing and sexual content, they would almost fit in the (maligned but popular) genres of ladlit/chicklit.
It wasn’t easy to find books that I thought I could enjoy. The fiction shelves of my “local” Christian bookshop seemed filled with Little House on the Prairie clones, The Left Behind series, or other styles I didn’t find appealing. In the end I found a couple of books in the bargain bin that seemed promising, and to these I added two other titles I’d seen advertised. My brief impressions of the books are given below – without identifying the “bargains”.
1) Yellow Zone by Janelle G Dwyer
An end time story set in Australia. After devastating terrorist attacks around the world, The Government sets up strict controls over citizens. Essential utilities have been severely disrupted so most people are gathered into camps in an alleged attempt to restore order and security.
Good points. Overall the story idea had credibility and presented a world in which Christians face increasing restrictions, imprisonment and ultimately execution for their beliefs. I find this to be more or less consistent with bible prophecy.
Bad points. Dialogue was stilted and unconvincing making it a struggle to enjoy the telling of the story. Because of this I found the characters unrealistic. The story also presents a “pre-trib” rapture scenario, which isn’t overly emphasised but, added to the other shortcomings, spoiled my reading experience
2) Ulterior Motives by Mark Andrew Olsen.
A potentially catastrophic terrorist plot is discovered. Osama Bin Laden’s successor is captured and interrogation is started to try to find enough information to prevent it from being carried out. A disgraced serviceman and now Christian minister is brought in to conduct an unorthodox plan to obtain the required details
Good points. Easy reading and kept my interest.
Bad Points. One of the most ridiculously implausible stories I’ve ever come across. Very “preachy” in a heavy handed way.
3) Tomorrow We Die, Shawn Grady
A mystery novel about a paramedic who is becomes embroiled in a conspiracy after a dying patient passes him a strange note.
Good points. Maintained my interest throughout. Included references to Christian faith without turning the book into a clumsy tract.
Bad points. Used too many obscure medical references. My wife was a nurse so I was familiar with some of the jargon but a lot meant absolutely nothing to me. Plausibility seemed to suffer a little towards the climax and conclusion of the novel – but perhaps no more than in many other “thrillers”. A bit gruesome at times which may disturb some readers.
4) For All Time, Meredith Resce
A 21st century Australian doctor visiting England becomes trapped when part of a castle collapses. Her situation is shared with a male member of the cast of a medieval show being performed at the castle. After finding a way to freedom from the rubble, they emerge in the time of Henry VIII and have to survive in a world where an educated woman is viewed with suspicion, especially when the Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins is in town.
Good points. A lot of naturally expressed Christian elements that don’t seem forced. A very proficient and plausible story created out of a very implausible (but intriguing) situation. Touches a little on the religious beliefs and superstitions of a time when knowing scripture in English was enough for someone to be considered a heretic.
Bad points. Nothing of significance. While no great literary masterpiece, and while some liberties may have been taken with history, I’ve found this book to be the most enjoyable of the four – but I haven’t finished it yet, so the whole thing COULD come crashing down in the last few chapters.