Summary: A unique young adult science fiction/fantasy book that has Christian characters and doesn’t suck.
I have been in a reading rut for a few weeks. I have not been finishing much and I have not been writing much. Part of it is busyness. My wife is back teaching school, a full month now. I have a bunch of work to crank back up for my consulting job. And my nieces are not taking naps at the same time so I can get work done while they are sleeping.
But it is more than that. All the bloggers I know, especially book bloggers seem to go through slumps. Usually, I need to read more fiction when that happens, but I have just not been interested in reading at all. I started about 10 books and just could not get into them. But two I finally latched on to. Beyond The Reflection’s Edge is a free book I picked up about a month ago. I am trying to work through my To Be Read piles so I picked it up. (The second is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman which I will review on Wednesday.)
I am impressed. I like Science Fiction but am hesitant when I read science fiction that is not put out by standard science fiction publishing houses. There is a lot of bad science fiction out there, and a lot of good authors cranking out formulaic stuff.
Bryan Davis has some good ideas. This book is targeted as a young adult book but other than the fact that the main characters are teens, it didn’t seem that young adult to me. In general, the story is unique. Nathan Shepherd is a 16 year old. He is an accomplished musician. He runs the business side of his father’s security business. And he has a history of international intrigue, fighting terrorists, etc. He is a modern, musical Johnny Quest with a tutor as a partner. I am not turned off by a too perfect lead character (but I think some will be).
Within the first couple chapters he is on the run, his parents have disappeared and may be dead. He is shipped off to a friend of his fathers and some very weird things start happening. Eventually we realize this is a story about parallel dimensions. There are three earths and each of them has similar characters. Nathan (and his parents earlier) find they can move between the worlds.
Beyond the Reflection’s Edge is a good start to a trilogy. There are several good strong female characters, which is unusual for Young Adult science fiction. The action is fast paced but fairly believable (for science fiction.) It is hard to review on the total storyline because this is still very open-ended. (I am about a third of the way through the second book now.)
But there are some weaknesses. First, the protagonists seem to be a bit too good. I like that this book avoids bad language and sex, but there is an extended section about a lead teen girl being disappointed in herself for wearing a low cut, sexy dress (and liking the attention). My guess is that there is more to the story that has not been revealed, but it seems more puritanical than real. Second, the story can jump around a bit and be a little hard to track. But if you keep working through it, things fall into place. Third, this book is published by Zondervan (a Christian publisher). Obviously, I am not anti-Christian if you read the rest of my reviews. But I think it is hard to write good Christian science fiction. This is not in your face with its Christianity, but I am not sure how it improves the story. In many ways, the story would be exactly the same, without the occasional prayer or scripture reference. Maybe later books will pull things together a bit more.
Overall, I thought it was a good book. I enjoyed it and read it fairly quickly. I hope I enjoy the later books as much as I enjoyed the first one.