Monthly Archives: February 2009

Flashpoint by Frank Creed, a Review

Flashpoint by Frank Creed

Book One of The Underground, published by The Writer’s Cafe Press 2007, 190 pages.

Worldview: Christian

At the beginning of this book, a loving father tells his two kids to jump from his slowly moving car, sending them to hide in the support beams of a highway overpass. Then he drives home to be arrested for a terrorist crime–being a Christian.

In Frank Creed’s grim Chicago of AD 2036, America has succumbed to control by the One State, based in Belgium. Technology allows the government to monitor everyone’s whereabouts, based on numerous video cameras , and on ID chips embedded in people’s left hands and in their cars. Chicago is barely recognizeable, divided into Wards. What were once highway tollbooths have now become checkpoints for crossing from one Ward to another. The One State version of Nazism scapegoats the Christians.  Christians when found are arrested and sent to “rehab” where their DNA is rearranged and they forget who they really are.

Against this backdrop, the two kids, aged 16 and 20, are rescued from the highway overpass by the Christian underground, which they join. They are spiritually and physically “re-formed” with super-tech powers. They take new names: Calamity Kid and his younger sister e-girl. The two dive into a breathlessly fast-paced set of adventures, seeking first to aid some widows and orphans, and then setting out to rescue their family members from rehab. Calamity’s now a Sandman–an elite fighter who doesn’t kill his foes, but instead puts them to sleep. E-girl aids him as a “hacker” on the Internet.

Creed’s Christian worldview is front and center. Calamity and his trainers do their best to live out their faith. Calamity learns to trust the Lord, and gets plenty of direction from Bible verses that the Holy Spirit uses to guide him. I really like that about this book.

What I don’t like is the lingo. This book is a story told by Calamity Kid. He uses plenty of 21st-century slang, some of which I had trouble following. Also, the overall effect is rather cheeky, which doesn’t fit his humble-servant intentions.

It’s a well-written tale, full of action that draws you right in and keeps you turning the pages. It’s a great Christian witness to the gamer generation: its hero, with plenty of techno-superpowers, still must depend on the Lord for any measure of success.–Phyllis Wheeler

If you would like to buy this book, consider buying it through me to help pay the expenses of operating this blog. Thanks!

Arana’s Visitor by Julie Rollins, a Review

Arana’s Visitor by Julie Rollins, a review
Book 1 of the Vadelah Chronicles
Self-published in 2005, 288 pages

Worldview: Christian. This book will appeal mostly to Christians.

David Decker, a college student, and his roommate Todd are driving on a country road one night when they see a red-hot plane make an emergency landing.  On a hunch, they rescue the pilot, an alien, hide him from authorities at a roadblock, and take him home.

At first they don’t trust him. But they decide to shelter him from bad guys in the government who know of the crash and are looking for the alien. This is Gyra, a very intelligent being who looks a lot like a bird and has both wings and arms.
Once the bad guys figure out who is sheltering Gyra, David and Todd take Gyra and leave town.They teach Gyra English and disguise him as a man in a chicken costume advertising a local restaurant, a scenario with comic moments. At the same time, David, a Christian, witnesses to Gyra and shows him his Bible. Gyra is
captivated.

David and Todd help Gyra get the metals he needs to repair his ship. In Gyra’s hair-raising escape, David on the spur of the moment decides to come along, because Gyra is injured.  And so in a switcheroo, David becomes the alien on Gyra’s planet Arana learning Gyra’s language. Gyra is out of the picture, in a coma from his injuries, and so Gyra’s people suspect David of having hurt Gyra.

David learns that his home planet is the first place that the Lord made life, but not the last.  These gentle bird-aliens have sophisticated space travel but fear Earth and have marked it off-limits because of the evil that comes from there.  Naturally they suspect David of being evil too. But they are looking for fulfillment of a prophecy involving someone bringing news from Earth.

This book is very well told and well edited. The pacing is good. Rollins is able to grab your emotions and tell a tale of good and evil on a galactic scale. I really enjoyed reading it. You will too.–Phyllis Wheeler

Rollins has written more books in this series, so she is currently making this first one available for free download on her Web site, www.JulieRollins.com.

League of Superheroes by Stephen Leon Rice, a Review

League of Superheroes by Stephen Leon Rice

Published 2008 by The Writer’s Cafe Press, 158 pages.

Worldview: Christian

In this short novel, four 14-year-old boys and a nine-year-old sister of one of them discover a “girl” named Genie in a chatroom.  Genie is fluent in 26 languages and knows 17,354 jokes with minor variations. A machine? She also reacts to what they say and do with emotions.  A girl? A puzzle, to be sure.

Genie asks them their interests. The boys say they like superhero comics. Genie volunteers to make them power suits conferring special powers right out of the comic books, with some scientific-sounding rationale for all the gadgets. In short order we have four super-heroes with super-powers, ready to take on the bad guys.

As the story develops, the five kids find themselves using the special power suits Genie sends them–to try to rescue Genie and the protector she calls Uncle from some really bad guys. The story resolves, but leaves room for a sequel.  During the story, the narrator, Tom, and his friends live out their Christian faith.  For example, Tom seeks to save the soul of a dying villain, and Genie’s soul as well.

My opinion?

This book has nice pacing and a strong underlying comic-book-style story, with believable bad guys. However, the four boys are almost caricatures–one of them is really good at computer hacking, another speaks a variety of languages, and so on. Their banter is pretty sophisticated too, invoking Voltaire for example. They’re also highly advanced on the road to sanctification, behaving with grace under pressure in a way that doesn’t seem realistic for 14-year-olds, or for adults either for that matter. But then, this is really a sort of comic book, right?  I am supposing that a teen boy reading this might find them inspiring in a variety of ways.  Or he might have trouble relating to them. I’m not sure which.

I expect this book will strongly appeal to Christian families who want their sons reading books that demonstrate faith in action.  It will also appeal to Christian comic book fans.  I enjoyed it, that’s for sure.–Phyllis Wheeler

If you want to buy this book, consider buying it through me to help pay the expenses of this blog. Thanks!