(Yeah, the semester is over so I get to flex my reviewing muscles. First on my mind? This book.)
Ever read Beowulf? Yeah, most of us have. Ever notice how the Christianity theme appears to be grafted onto the original manuscript like some sort of parasitic twin? Yeah, I’m sure many have. I speculate this was done because the scribe recognized the text as the magnificent depiction of an alternative culture that it is, but knew he had to save it from the prefects at his monastery who would have destroyed, all the while calling it “pagan filth” and “evil.”
What I mean by referencing Beowulf? I did so because the religious element in Katy Lee’s book is equally unbelievable.
Lydia only approaches the Divine when she wants something. Her faith is all about what God can do for her. A “convenient Christian,” as the term goes. Egocentric. Self-absorbed. What do I mean? Here (paraphrased):
· “Please, God, help me get this promotion.”
· “Please, God, help me conduct small talk with these people.”
· “Please, God, help me get the guy.”
But never once did I see her saying Grace before her meal. Or morning vespers, for that matter. Worse, asking someone she’s just met professionally, “Are you a Christian?” Thus, he either said "yes" or she wouldn't help him solve the crime that GAWD had sent her to solve...so that she could get that promotion.
Uh, she’s looking to get fired and/or sued. Not to mention a defiance of God's Will. I mean, if he sent you there to solve the problem so you could get the promotion, but she would only do so if he shared her faith, then--you feeling me yet? CHAOS!
And what if he said, “I’m a Pastafarian?” Would she enact the final scene of Attack of the Body Snatchers, stand there with finger judgmentally extended, and garbling a howl? Maybe toss some soda pop into his face and chant, “The Power of Christ compels you!!” Be serious.
Mean-spirited? Intolerant? No, simply realistic and again, no, it’s not just me. Christians are rejecting “Christian fiction.” Don’t believe me? Hereà http://mikeduran.com/2011/04/the-new-demographic-christians-who-dont-like-christian-fiction/
But then, I remember that author Lee is a children’s minister which, then, that oddness does make a sort of sense since there is something…juvenile…in her prose. Ignoring the “Questions for Discussion” section she (helpfully) supplied at the rear of the book, Grave Danger appears to be written for a non-adult audience? Teenaged, probably. Examples? I have them:
· “Lydia’s feet felt glued down” (128). I speculate Lee’s trying for something like, “The bottom of Lydia’s feet felt glued to the floor.”
· “Suddenly, the hair made sense” (131). Indeed, yes. In fact, I’ve always found that tonsures have a stunning understanding of quantum physics
None of that would have gotten past my SHU mentor, AKA the Diction Despot.
Neither would this:
· “Shock swamped him”(286). ß A delicious example of the prose enemy he’s identified as “waves of Hoo-Hah.”
This falls right in with the situation where Christians are not liking Christian Fiction. For many reasons, but one of them is the quality of writing. (Here’s the link again: http://mikeduran.com/2011/04/the-new-demographic-christians-who-dont-like-christian-fiction/)
Grave Danger is lacking any emotional connection with either Lydia’s faith or the romance between Wes and Lydia. But we are told she feels something for him, and he for her, but…nope, I’m not buying it. She did a wa-ay better job depicting Wes as a sulky little boy than a man falling in love.
Teenager Wes. And clueless Lydia.
Set up: they're on the run from a ruthless murderer who is too close by for comfort.
Wes: “Stay in the light.”
Lydia: “Do you mean God’s light?”
Me: "Uh, no, diddums, he means stay out of dark corners and empty corridors."
Then what does she do? She heads into dark corners and empty corridors. But wait! There’s more! She also follows the deputy down a dark and dangerous path and almost meets her doom. The multiple clue-by-fours upside her blockhead apparently did nada for the arrival of common sense.
Romance? Fail. Faith? Fail. Suspense? FAIL, FAIL, FAIL. The effort is juvenile, as I mentioned.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. I like a good story, any story, and that includes Inspirational Romances. My disappointment with Grave Danger’s mystery has nothing to do with my gripes above. For me, the problem with the mystery plot may be specific to me.
I knew how it was gonna play out early on. (Man, I gotta stop watching the Justice Channel at 3:00am...) Carmichael. Just as I figured. But then…Deux ex with the arrival of O’Connor. (Since it's an Inspirational, should I be okay with a Deux ex? *cue rimshot*
Oh, and if you’re gonna include O’Connor into the plot and as the Big Bad, he needs to show up much EARLIER in the book than midway, and far more substantially than as an annoying tertiary character.
Stepping back to look at this book from a consumer's point of view, it's clear that the publisher is having difficulties with their stable. Why else would a--*ahem*--book of this quality (and including gross editorial errors) hit the shelves?
Aspiring authors! Seize the opportunity!! This publisher is needing authors!
ALL AROUND FAIL
Brenda Thatcher, Co-Owner Mystique Books
Will I voluntarily read Lee again? Decisively, no. In fact, I now use her as an example of a publisher in distress.
I wish the book and author buckets of cash and glory, but I also wish her elsewhere.