I was having a heavy conversation with a good friend about spiritual forces, and the prevailing wickedness in a current situation. She jumped up and said, "I've got a book for you to read!" A minute later she was back with not one, but two Frank Peretti books. She explained that he writes novels about spiritual warfare going on around us. I was intrigued...
If you don't believe in God and/or don't like reading books with heavy spiritual messages, do yourself a favor and skip this one. I read several negative reviews based on a dislike of the genre rather than quality of writing or story. Don’t buy Christian fiction, and then blast it for being spiritual. One reviewer went as far as to accuse the author of false allegations against a well-known organization that has a similar name to the powerful group in the story. True—one does infer the connection while reading—but knocking the story because it isn’t true doesn’t seem fair to the author. It is FICTION. And, if a buyer would read the summary before purchasing... Well, enough said.
On the other side of the coin, most of the positive reviews seemed to be based on emotion tied to religious conviction. Am I alone in not buying a book solely because I share the faith of the author? This book does speak to some serious issues, and gives an awe-inspiring view of the angelic realm that perhaps surrounds us as we go about our daily lives, but that alone does not a good book make. I don’t give stars based on agreement in spiritual matters.
Peretti’s writing style: There were a number of characters introduced early on—it was hard for me to keep them straight—so this is not a book to pick up if you read a few minutes before bed each night. Also, this author doesn't mind using lots of run-on sentences--and by run on, I mean paragraph-length. Aside from a couple of minor details, the writing was technically correct. However, based on style alone, I would give this book just two stars on the Goodreads’ scale—it was okay. The pace was not to my liking, structurally speaking, and it was rather lengthy. At times I wanted him to hurry it along.
I really struggled reading through all the names of the evil spirits. Some lame—some too abrupt. For me, it was often an interruption in the flow of the story that should have wound up on the editing floor. Also, most of the battle scenes were hard to enjoy—just spirits zooming and slashing everywhere. (I admit to 'speed-reading' a bit during some of those.)
The storyline: There were two intertwined storylines to this book—one in the spiritual realm and one in the earthly realm. Although the plot was far-fetched and at times complicated, it will touch a cord with Christians who see the fallenness of today’s world and sense a climate of persecution toward the Church. Peretti’s story hits close to home in what we see happening in today’s culture—both in the secular society, as well as in the church itself. I see this as the selling point of this story.
NO SPOILERS HERE: The ending was a little disappointing. You know when you say to yourself, “I can’t wait to see how he ties all this together!” Well, it wasn’t all I was expecting. He did tie it together, although not convincingly in some areas. It lacked the ‘Wow!’
On a personal note, I felt a bit convicted about my prayer life. As we begin to see the battle between the evil forces and God’s warriors, we are reminded to stay awake:
“…It was a perfect place to begin the process.” His beastly
face grew tight and bitter. “Until they started praying.
Until they ceased being so comfortable and started
weeping before God! Until they began to reclaim the
power of the…” The Strongman sealed his lips.
“The Cross?” the aide volunteered.
(Excerpt from page 36)
On another personal note, I thought I'd share this photo of
the table where I keep my bedtime reading. Girly, isn't it?
I struggled a little with what rating to give this book, finally settling on four-stars—the ‘really liked it’ on Goodreads’ scale. The writing wasn’t my cup of tea, the plot had holes like swiss cheese, but in the end, I read for entertainment—and I was thoroughly entertained!
I was also intrigued by the thought of the spiritual battle going on around us. More importantly, I was invested in the characters. Even when I wanted him to hurry along, I wasn’t willing to skip over anything. I wanted to know that good wins over evil. I wanted the ugly spirit to get his ‘what’s coming’. I wanted the MC to be safe and saved. I wanted the righteous to triumph!
This was my first Frank Peretti novel. It is book two in This Present Darkness series. There are hints about the first previous story from an out-of-town character, but you need not read these books in order.
my friend loaned me
before I make up my mind
on this author.
Perhaps I'll review it here in the near future.