Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Much to Live Up to

Last year I read a book that took me quite by surprise.  I did not expect to like it.  I actually expected to dislike it.  But, I found that I loved it! It was a book titled The Sword by Brian Litfin.  It fits into a genre of fiction known as speculative fiction.  Essentially, the world goes into a future dark age when a virus wipes out most of the world's population.  This is deftly described in a very concise few pages at the beginning of The Sword.  God's Word has been lost and so has faith in Him.  It has been replaced by Idolatry and the worship of many Gods.  The Sword is the story of Teo and Ana and their discovery of part of God's Word.  I knew when I began reading The Sword that it was to be the beginning of a new trilogy and that I would have to wait a year for the second installment.

That time has come.  The Gift was published in April of this year.  I have looked forward to reading it and I finally got a chance to read it this week.

I'm not sure quite where to begin.  So, I'll begin with the cover.  I was surprised by how the cover affected me.  It reminded me of a Harlequin type fantasy romance novel.  It set me ill at ease and didn't appeal to me.  But, I opened up the book and began reading.  The story picks up where the first one left off.  There is a 2 page prologue that is brief but complete to set the stage for this second book in the trilogy.  This book can be read independently as an engaging story, but I would recommend beginning with the first one simply because it is a really good story.

The Plot:  I enjoyed the plot immensely.  The plot, with all its twists and turns, is engaging and interesting.  Some of the twists are predictable, but many are not.  In this book, Teo and Ana set out to find more of the sacred writing of Deu.  They found a portion of the Old Testament, but know that there is a second part of the book that is missing.  This book tells the story of their continuing quest.

The Writing:  I did not find this book to be as well written as the first.  It is difficult for me to say exactly why.  The language and grammar seemed too casual--too much like how we talk today.  Every culture seems to have its own colloquialisms and I didn't notice any in this futuristic culture.  At one point in the story, I couldn't picture Teo and Anna saying "Yeah, sure." when it was included in the story.  It didn't fit with their characters for me.  I was pleased, however, with how easily Mr. Litfin was able to convey when the characters were speaking in different languages while keeping the story fluid.

I think perhaps my misgiving about the cover is linked foretold of the amount of romance that would infuse the story.  I'm not sure that it was vital to the plot to include as much description of the women's clothing and their body movements as there was.  It made me somewhat uncomfortable at times.  The descriptions were a bit more like modern romance novels than Jane Austen's novels.  My discomfort reminded that this is an adult fantasy fiction book, not one for middle or high school students.

I enjoyed this story and am glad to have read it, in light of my one misgiving.  I do look forward to the third installment of the trilogy next year.  I would not, however, recommend this series to teenagers.  I know that young adult fiction now reads like adult fiction, but I am still of the opinion that teenagers shouldn't have to be adults yet and their books should be appropriate for their levels of maturity.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway Publishing for review.

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