Books set in Africa, Fiction, Finding Your Self, Historical Fiction, Pickney-Andrea Davis, Social Commentary

#878 The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pickney

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pickney The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pickney

Amira lives with her family in Darfur. She has two parents and a younger sister. There is also the family sheep, named by the little sister at birth with her cries. Amira enjoys her life. She plays with her sister and the animals; she dislikes the chores she got when she got older.

One day, something awful happens. There seems to be fire all around. The sheep is gone; her father is gone. Everyone must leave. They take only what they can carry on their backs. They walk and walk. They get somewhere. Their house is made of rice bags. Amira’s family changes. She sees a child bride. A white lady gives her a red. Pencil.

Amira learns to draw. Someone secretly teaches her to write. Her mother is not happy about it, but Amira has many dreams, among those dreams is going to school and learning.

What I liked

The prose of this book was wonderful. It moves along and flowed. It made sense and kept a musical tone to the whole story.

Amira is very likable. She is determined to be something more and to learn.

I liked learning a bit more about what happened in Darfur back in 2003. I had heard the term on the news, but didn’t know what it meant. It’s a sad thing, but I’m better enriched as a person because I know more about it.

The author was inspired to write this book because of the events in Darfur. She spent a lot of time researching and doing interviews. I think it’s pretty great to come up with such a beautiful story while dealing with so many terrible things.

What I didn’t like

These events are so sad. I feel bad for Amira. She lost her animals. She lost her home. She lost her father. It was awful. She experiences PTSD, when she’s way too young to experience such a terrible thing, not that anyone is ever at an age to experience such terrible things.

Amira isn’t real, so I’m a little relieved, but there are plenty of real girls who did go through things like this. I feel bad for them. It’s terrible that anybody thinks they have the right to do something like this.

Overall

Beautiful story about awful things.

Weigh in

Do you think you could have made it through what Amira made it through?

Do you feel that you didn’t give education an important in your life when you were young?

#878 The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pickney was originally published on One-elevenbooks

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Books set in Africa, Coelho-Paulo, Fantasy, Feel-Good, Fiction, Social Commentary, what if

#536 The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

#536 The Alchemist by Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is a book that people have been talking about for years and they just keep talking about it. After reading it I can see why.

In this book a young man wanders around with his sheep. He wanted to be a shepherd so he could travel. One night he had a dream. He dreamed of the pyramids of Egypt. He met a king who called himself Melchizedek. This king told the shepherd that he must travel to the pyramids to fulfill his personal legend. The young man did not know what a personal legend was. The king told him that he should listen to omens. He gave the young man a black stone and a white stone; these he called the Urim and Thummim. He told the young man to use the stones to aid in figuring out omens.

The young man sold his sheep and went somewhere he had never been. There he was robbed, but soon found a job working at a crystal shop. The owner at the prompting of the young man was soon doing wonderfully, but the young man had to leave. Before he did, he had a very important conversation with the owner before he left. The owner told the boy that he liked thinking about things he could do and not doing them. He and the young man were not the same.

The young man traveled on. Over the desert.He went to an Oasis with an Englishman. The Englishman was looking for an alchemist. He wanted to know how to turn lead into gold. The boy was simply looking for a treasure at the pyramids, both seemed far-fetched in their own way. Both the Englishman and the young man met the alchemist. The alchemist taught the boy many things, but did not teach him how to make gold. This was not part of his personal legend. The young man traveled on seemingly through many dangers to finally realize what he had been wanting to realize.

What I liked

I get why people like this book. It’s empowering. It’s about taking the risks you know that you should take to lead you forward in life. It’s about not being stagnant. It’s a quest story most of all. The young man and his tale sound like something out of a fairy tale. This book is so much like a fairy tale. The young man faces challenges and learns important facts of life, as any good fairy tale character should. In the end this book isn’t only instructive, it’s entertaining to read.

This book was a bit of a reminder to me. If I want to accomplish certain things and feel certain ways in life, there are things I have to move away from. There are things I have to leave behind. There are going to be points in life that are painful, but in the end we grow from those points and from leaving those things behind.

What the shopkeeper said about himself is not how I am or want to be. He was happy with just thinking about doing things rather than going out and doing them. That’s a sad, sad life. Well, at least in my opinion it’s a sad, sad life. There are really and truly things you should hold your life back for, but most of the things we let ourselves hold our lives back for aren’t that important in the long run. We just waste time. We just waste our lives.

What I didn’t like

Why would anyone ever be that person who just thought about doing things and never did them? Why would it be desirable? It’s desirable because it’s comfortable. People get used to living a certain way and they never want to change ever. That’s not me and that annoys me. Why waste your life doing the same thing day after day after day after day after day after day? Go out and do the things you feel you should accomplish in life. The things you feel you should do may change as your life progresses. Being a pop star probably isn’t what you’re going to end up doing with your life and in the end it was never that important anyway, but there are plenty of other things you’ll feel the need to accomplish. Why hold yourself back because of stupid things?

The reason this guy in this shopkeeper in this story upsets me so much is that I recognize people very close to me who are like this man. They never want to move forward with life. They just want the same thing day after day after day. There is more to life than seeing the same thing everyday. We are meant to do things with our lives.

Overall

This was a great book. It may not be exactly everything everyone says it is, but it’s pretty good.

Weigh In

Are you the doer or the wisher? Do you want this to change?

Do you think the young man in this story continued to do incredible things?

Books set in Africa, Coming of age, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Social Commentary, Young Adult

#463 A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue ParkA Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

Sudan is a place I don’t know much about, but in this book I learned a little more. This book involves two separate children, both living in Sudan.

Nya lives in Sudan in the year 2008. Salva lives in Sudan in the year 1985. Salva’s family is well-known in the area and somewhat affluent. This doesn’t change the fact that they leave the village in the dry season, everybody does. There isn’t any water there. They must go live around a big lake. The lake shrinks to nothing and everyone must dig for water in the mud. Waterborne illnesses spread rapidly.

Nya’s job is to walk to the lake every day with a large container to gather water for her family. She digs down into the mud to collect water. She does this day after day after day. Sometimes her little sister comes along, but after a time the little sister becomes ill. It’s from the dirty water. Some men show up at the lake and start doing something; it turns out to be something great.

Salva is in school one day when shots ring out in the village. His teacher tells the students to run into the bush, don’t go home. Salva joins up with a group of people walking away from the village. One day they stop for the night and leave Salva behind because he’s a child. Salva keeps going. He finds another group of people. They’re walking away from Sudan and into Ethiopia. Salva’s uncle happens to be in the group of people. They travel on. A young man around Salva’s age is taken by a lion. They keep going. Men attack the group and Salva’s uncle is killed.

The group keeps going onto a refugee camp. They eventually make it, but the refugee camp is packed with people. It’s hard to get anything and find anyone. Salva stays in this camp for several years, but it closes and Salva leaves the camp with a group of boys. Salva leads a group startig out with 1500 boys to another refugee camp. It takes over a year for them to reach the camp, but 1300 boys reach the camp.

A group begins to pay for some of the boys to leave the area and  go to the United States. Salva is taken in by a family in New York. He is able to go to school and college. He finds out his father is alive and is able to go and see him in the hospital. Salva begins to start a project for Sudan.

Salva creates a group that drills wells for the dry areas of Sudan so the people can get water all year round. The well drilled in Nya’s village was a project created by Salva’s group. Nya is able to have water because of Salva’s group.

What I liked

This story is actually based on Salva’s life. Salva is real. He does have an organization that drills wells in Africa. He spends half of his year in the United States getting money to drill wells and then he goes to Africa with his team and drills wells. Salva actually did go to the refugee camps and go with a large group of boys to another camp. The group was called the lost boys.

Some events of this book are fictionalized. Nya isn’t real, but her story was probably very much the story of many young women in that particular area of Africa.

I learned more about Sudan. I hadn’t known much of Sudan to start with. I knew it was a big country, but hadn’t realized that the northern and southern areas often warred with one another. I think Salva is a really neat guy. He’s done so much to help the people of his home country. He puts a lot of his time into this and has spent years on this. He has been able to help so many people. Salva started out at the bottom, but was able to create something really amazing out of his misfortune. Salva is a truly admirable person.

What I didn’t like

It’s sad that Salva was separated from his family like he was. I’m glad he was able to find that some of his family was still alive. It’s sad that the Sudan has been so war-torn. Families were separated and little girls have had to walk miles to get water. I’m glad that people like Salva were able to help the people out, but there is still a lot that needs to be done there.

Overall

I think this book was an effective way to tell the story of the Sudan.



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#376 From the End of Heaven by Chris Stewart

From the End of Heaven by Chris StewartFrom the End of Heaven by Chris Stewart

We’ve reached the fifth book in The Great and Terrible series. Things have started to pick up. In this book we get evidence of how far the plan Prince Abdullah has carried out went. The plan goes further than anyone really knows and it’s been going on for years.

Our characters are all together now. Samuel, Azadeh, Ammon, and Luke are all together in Chicago. Luke was miraculously healed after a blessing from his older brother Samuel. Samuel separated from his army buddy, Bono, in order to find his family. The group is now with Mary Dupree and her little girl Kelly Beth, who also benefited from a blessing. Kelly Beth was dying of cancer only a few days before and now seems to be regaining her strength and health. They all know they have to leave the city, but the city has turned into a dangerous place. It seems chaos reigns and people are enforcing their own kinds of laws.

Bono left Little Rock, Arkansas in order to get to his family in Memphis. Along the way, he drinks some tainted water and gets very sick, very fast. A farmer happens to find him, but this farmer also happens to be a doctor. They take care of Bono for a day or two, but Bono must be on his way. He needs to see his wife and his daughter. They’re staying at his in-laws house. They have a farm.

Things on the farm are tough, but much more pleasant to deal with than what people in the cities are dealing with. They have food, but fear that people will come and take it. This does happen. People from Mexico drive all the way up to the farm and start slaughtering cows seemingly for no reason.

When the group in Chicago tries to leave, it seems that someone wants them very badly. It seems Lucifer has stuck his nose in it once again and has charged some very rough and evil people with hunting the family down. They narrowly escape when a government helicopter comes to take them away.

In the meantime, some nefarious people who have infiltrated the U.S. government have killed not only one presidential succession, but two. They’re looking for the next, but decide to go ahead and skip over him. They anoint a man president, who shouldn’t be president at all, at least not the way in which the law works. The plan is to nationalize everything. The U.S. is waiting to retaliate. Nothing is happening the way it should be happening. The man who should be president next is in hiding. He knows there are snakes in his government and he doesn’t know who to trust, but he has a plan. That plan involves the Brightons and their set of friends.

What I liked

The story really has picked up. The United States is in chaos. Things are very bad. It’s hard to determine what people would and wouldn’t do in a given situation, but you can bet things are very bad. The worst is coming out in people because their most basic necessities are gone. This story is about people trying to live through that. You have to admire the tenacity of some people. The characters in this book keep going on even when others would have given up. They keep their morals. They keep their faith. They keep their humanity.

There is a long-held belief among certain people that the government of the United States could be infiltrated by people who want to destroy the idea of freedom. It is kind of a belief that kicks around the Mormon faith on the fringes. People talk about it every once in a while, but it’s not this overly communicated idea. Chris has obviously heard of this idea. He knows about the little whispers. Chris brings something into this story he describes as “oaths.” Lucifer, as the old man in the series, is constantly getting Prince Abdullah, or some of his other cronies, to take oaths to him. They swear they will do such and such thing. They swear not only on their lives, but their souls.

The LDS faith calls these things “secret combinations.” Essentially, we’re talking about the blueprints to destroy society. The idea is that some people would sell themselves to the Devil himself in order to gain power, money, or fame, just whatever. They disregard all morality they once had. They completely let this darkness consume them in order to know these steps that will get them to their desired outcome. Maybe they’re evil the whole time, maybe they get in not realizing what they’re getting into, but by the time they realize it, they’re already in too deep to stop. They feel they could never be forgiven, so they just go on being terrible knowing it’s leading to their downfall.

I mention all of this because Chris did a very good job of turning this wisp of a fringe conspiracy theory into a working story. It’s something you might hear about, but you can’t ever imagine how such a thing would come to pass. Chris imagined it for us. He created a fictional United States that has been infiltrated by people who sold their souls to the Devil. Really when you think about it, how is that any different from some of these politicians ok’ing stuff like Bt corn and Posilac knowing it causes problems, but hey, they totally get kickbacks from these companies that make the stuff, so it’s all cool.

Our government, even though many consider it the greatest government in the world, is not immune to corruption. It is not immune to being thrown down. It is not immune to turning into a dictatorship. Chris illustrated this beautifully in this series. While everybody was going about their ordinary lives, no one was paying enough attention to the cancer that was growing in their country. Nobody watched. Hardly anybody noticed, and just look what happened. The people of a government are responsible for keeping it in line to an extent. The government is the serve the people, not the other way around. So if you go around in your bubble every day ignoring very important things, don’t be surprised if you wake up one morning and the world is completely different.

What I didn’t like

I still want to punch Lucifer in the face.

Some parts of the story were honest and brutally so, but other parts weren’t exactly up to snuff. We’ve got to be a bit realistic here. If something like this happened, the cities would be big messes. You wouldn’t want to be living in a city, you would be running out into the countryside with all your might. There is nothing in the city for you if the electricity goes. People would run out of food in about two days, Chris seems to have extended this to about a week. That’s just not happening people. Most people who live in cities are poor. They don’t keep a lot of food in their homes. They’re lucky to have a day’s worth of food on hand, if that. Most people in the cities keep hardly anything in their homes because the grocery store is on the corner, why do they need to take up space in their tiny apartments for food?

The suburbs would be looted, sure. They really would. People would pour out of the cities and into the suburbs. Any backyard gardens or backyard chickens would all be destroyed within a matter of a couple of weeks or so. It’s the people who live way out in the country who would be the best off. They would have their gardens. They would be far enough away from major cities and roads that chances of the city folks wandering up to take their food would be pretty slim. I get the feeling that Bono’s in-laws house is way out there. There is no reason at all for someone from Mexico coming there to take food. Of course, in the story we do get that servants of Lucifer drove them there, but still, it’s illogical.

Lots of people would die really fast. Chris mentions this to an extent, but glosses over it for the most part. All the people in hospitals, all the people in nursing homes, they’re dead right off the bat. Traffic accidents, plane crashes, all dead. Lack of life-prolonging medications such as insulin or heart medication will put many more dead within a week, maybe two. Extreme violence and riots are going to kill even more people. Fires that are unstoppable, will kill even more. Starvation will be the most extended version of death in this scenario, but it too will kill people. My point in this is that, realistically, there would be a lot more death than Chris really lets on.

Overall

Again, things are heating up. The story goes on.



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#375 Fury and Light by Chris Stewart

  Fury and Light by Chris StewartFury and Light by Chris Stewart

Alright, the series is starting to pick up. It’s getting more interesting now, which is great, because the first three books bogged me down. This is the fourth book in the series and we continue to follow our characters around.

Sara, Ammon, and Luke Brighton got out of Washington D.C. before a nuke was detonated in the city. They traveled west. Their original plan was to go to Salt Lake City, but they all feel it’s not really going to happen.

Azadeh makes it to the United States with no time to spare. Just a few hours later and all immigration would have been shut off for the United States, which is in a state of chaos because the whole government vanished within a day. The United States is pulling its troops home. This means that Sam Brighton and his buddy, Bono, are going back to the states. They have been given two weeks to see their families. While they were traveling to D.C. something else happens.

Prince Abdullah had something else up his sleeve. That something else is an EMP attack. A large-scale EMP attack would render most of the technology in the country useless. Electronic devices are fried. Power plants are fried. Hospitals are fried. Everything is dead. Cars are dead. Watches are dead and the list goes on.

Sam and Bono are able to discern from a letter left at the house that Sam’s family made it out of D.C. ok, well, all except for Neil, who was killed in the attack on D.C.. They talk a couple of pilots into dropping them by parachute close to where they need to be. Bono needs to go to Memphis where his wife is and Sam needs to go to Chicago. The only reason Sam feels he needs to go to Chicago is that a stranger tells him that is where he should go. He gets there in a nick of time.

Sara, Ammon, and Luke meet up with Mary Dupree and her sickly daughter. Mary has taken in Azadeh. Azadeh has been left in the low-income apartment by herself when Mary had to take her little girl, Kelly Beth to the doctor. Kelly was dying of cancer. There is a fight and Luke gets shot. Sam shows up just in time with a doctor. Somehow the party makes it back to Mary’s apartment.

That’s how we leave our characters in this book.

What I liked

This book is definitely more interesting than the previous three, well, maybe not all of them. I did really enjoy the first book being set in heaven. I guess it’s because I’m drawn to the idea of dystopian societies and stories about apocalypses that I find this book so interesting. This book is about what happens to our characters when everything goes to crap. Somehow they find each other. We know it’s through divine intervention, because this is a Christian book, but it’s still pretty amazing that they are able to find each other.

Chris did a lot of research when he chose the way in which the United States would meet its demise. He is quite right that an EMP attack would severely screw us over. People, that’s just another reason you should have a home library with sufficient books for your needs. If there ever is a EMP attack, you’ll still know when the plant your vegetables because you would have a well-stocked home library.

It’s hard to imagine the magnitude of something like this. Our world is controlled by electronics. A few years ago, some of you are too young to remember or even know about this, we had what was called the Y2K scare. People believed some errant code in computer languages was going to  cause all of our computers to go berserk when the year rolled over to 2000. People stocked up. People awaited their doom. People cowered in fear while others were watching the big ball drop on TV. Looking back on it, it seems silly that someone would ever think a little programming error would do such a thing. After having actually programmed code myself, the whole scare seems absurd.

My point in relaying all of this is that people actually researched how to survive without electronic means. They took the time to stock up food and equipment. They learned how to do stuff like skin a squirrel. I think it’s a little unfortunate that people have lost that mindset of being prepared over the past fourteen years or so. Seriously, if all our electronic stuff went to crap, there would be nothing we could do about it. Everything stops. We’re stuck in the middle of a big nothing with lots of stuff we can’t use. All those fancy Ipods are now just fancy paperweights.

So essentially what I’m trying to say is that Chris did a very good job of imagining such a disaster. Good for you Chris.

What I didn’t like

The story is still religion specific, but it’s gotten to be less burdensome than in the previous books. There really is more real-world application to this book than in the past books. People would act in this manner if such a thing happened.

Although, I am not a huge fan of this book being a “Christian” book, this book is sweet in its faith. I like how the characters of this book have so much faith that they can heal another person. I like that angels and good spirits are guiding these characters to one another. It just kind of gives you a warm fuzzy feeling. So, I’m still not a huge fan of this book being religion specific, but things definitely came into play more so in this book than in the other three.

I want to punch Lucifer in the face. He keeps popping up in all these books, doing all these awful things. He’s not very nice. He uses people. Yeah, that’s a good motivation to want to punch somebody in the face.

It reminds me of an episode of Spongebob Squarepants. Yes, there is an episode of that show for everything. There is one episode that is sort of set in the old west. Plankton has bought out an entire town, but Spongebob is in town and is the new sheriff. Now, he’s a bit inept, but he does his best. He does manage to wrangle Plankton in, by stepping on him. Once the people of the town realize Plankton is so puny that he can be dealt with simply by stepping on him, the townspeople have this new-found confidence. In fact, in the end of the episode, everyone lines up for a chance to squash plankton.

Now why did I mention that, I mention that because everyone probably wants to punch Lucifer after reading this series, maybe we’ll all get to take turns doing so.

Overall

The series is getting more interesting. On we go!



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#374 The Second Sun by Chris Stewart

The Second Sun by Chris StewartThe Second Sun by Chris Stewart

I am making my way through The Great and Terrible. I am not half-way finished, or rather, half-way there. This book continues to follow our main characters Samuel, Luke, Ammon, and Elizabeth or Azedah through their earthly lives. This book has brought us Azedah in a refugee camp. Samuel has been asked to be in a highly specialized unit of the army. Luke and Ammon are preparing to go on missions for their church. We branch out and see more of what their families and friends are up to. We also follow prince Abdullah as he carries out his nefarious schemes. It seems Prince Abdullah was not content just to become king of his own country, he also wants to watch the world burn.

Ammon and Luke hardly ever see their father. Things have been heating up. There have been attacks. There have been rumors. The situation with the Saudi Arabian royal family reeks of an inside job and a takeover. This doesn’t bode well for anyone involved. Prince Abdullah had all the little boys of Azedah’s village slaughtered in an attempt to destroy the last known son of Prince Saud, and the rightful heir to the throne. Azedah lost her father and was directed to a refugee camp by Sam, claiming that he knew her. Once in the camp she befriends a kindly old woman who knows who Azedah is and how important her family used to be. The old woman used to be important as well, but realizes she will spend the rest of her life in the refugee  camp.

Sam works with an non-profit organization to get Azadeh out of the refugee camp and to the United States.

Luke and Ammon have a hard time preparing for their missions.

Abdullah arranges the assassination of not only one Israeli government official, but an entire building full of them. They retaliate, but Abduallah has planted a nuclear weapon that will make it look as if Israel has nuked Gaza. One phone call to the White House from Prince Abdullah results in a code word “FLASHDANCE” and things change forever for the Brighton family and the entire world.

What I liked

A few years ago, the events played out in this book would have been quite probable. I don’t mean likely to happen at that point in time, I mean that at that point in time, if something like this did happen, it could have happened in this manner. These days, this sequence of events would not be as likely to happen. Over the years people have imagined a million ways for WWIII to start and a million ways to bring an apocalypse. Over time, those scenarios become less effective and less likely. Chris’ scenario has just about reached its shelf-life. With all of that said, Chris was quite clever for thinking this scenario up. He obviously knows a lot about the military, politics, and the history of the middle east. I really have to hand it to Chris for being so thorough in his imagined destruction of the world.

What I didn’t like

This book was longer than the previous two books, in fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the longest book in the series. I don’t like that. I also don’t like how militaristic Chris is in his description of events. He was a military man, so it does make sense. For people who are more closely involved with the military, this may be fine. I don’t have the same attitudes or acceptance of the military that I had when I first read this series. I don’t have as much patience for all this military talk. I don’t have patience for the brutality and the blind patriotism that often accompanies military culture. Chris isn’t so bad, but it definitely shows that Chris is something of a blind patriot, maybe not a full-blown blind patriot, but he has enough of that attitude in this book to make the reader think that he might be.

Chris wrote his books in a window. His window was between 9/11 and now. Now, Sadaam Hussein is dead. Osama Bin Laden is supposedly dead. I say supposedly because if you don’t have a body, you don’t have proof. It doesn’t matter what I think about that though, what does matter is that the world has changed from the time Chris wrote these books. Chris plainly states in this book that the United States has pulled most of their forces out of Iraq. AS IF. I know people who have been back and forth over there many times. I know people over there right now. There is still a huge military presence in Iraq. Apparently, Chris was anticipating that the United States would pull out, but really, I don’t think that’s happening any time soon, but you never know I guess. Needless to say, this fact has dated Chris’ books. It’s made his series just a little less pertinent.

I’m not even going to go into how Chris has limited his reading audience by making this religion specific, again.

There are times when Chris is quite brutal in some of his story events. It’s not overly brutal. It’s nothing akin to watching some splatter-porn, like the SAW series, but it’s still brutal. It’s very harsh. The idea of someone going into a village and slaughtering every single little boy is abominable, but it’s happened before. The Bible states that this happened at least twice. I’m sure it’s happened in recorded history somewhere as well. That’s just awful. I really don’t like reading about people’s brains exploding out the backs of their heads. I don’t like reading about people being told that they better go and complete some heinous task and they better not come back. It’s an awful thing for someone to be told, hey go murder this guy, then go off yourself. I don’t want to know about it. Even though this is all very brutal, it’s realistic, it is. I can’t argue with that. It’s just not the kind of thing that I like to read about.

Overall

The series is still quite interesting, but it’s definitely lost some of the gleam it held for me the first time I read about it.



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#373 Where Angels Fall by Chris Stewart

Where Angels Fall by Chris StewartWhere Angels Fall by Chris Stewart

This is the second book in the Great and Terrible Series by Chris Stewart. It it not set in heaven as the first book was, which is kind of a bummer, but the story does continue. In this book we follow our main characters in the first book, Samuel, Ammon, Luke, and Elizabeth down to the Earth, where they have been born into Earthly lives, with Earthly problems, remembering nothing of their kinship in the premortal world, and all during a very dangerous time on the Earth.

This series is actually an apocalyptic and postapocalyptic series. Things really start to heat up in this book, but it will be the next novel when stuff really starts to hit the fan.

By some strange luck, Ammon, Samuel and Luke are all born to the same family, in a manner of speaking. Samuel was adopted by the Brightons and Ammon and Luke are twin brothers. They spend their time going to school and rock climbing. Their father is a general in the air force and is an adviser to the President of the United States. He is also very good friends with the crowned prince of Saudi Arabia. In this book there are plans for Saudi Arabia to become a democratic country, but some of the younger princes do not like this plan, especially one called Abdullah.

Elizabeth was born into a small family in Iran. She lives only with her father. She is a very good young woman, but has never known a mother and her father is all she has in the world. She is called Azedah. Azedah’s father Rassa is descended from kings and is still close to the throne in a manner of speaking, but there are so many heirs to the throne that Rassa is forgotten among many. He farms and has a small house. His most precious possession is his daughter.

Meanwhile, Ammon, Luke, and Samuel’s father is called to Saudi Arabia to advise the prince. On the way he stops in to see his adopted son Samuel, who works in a special forces unit for the army. There is a bit of trouble in Germany, where he stops, but things go fine from there. When Neil visits with the prince, he senses that there are some undisclosed tensions in the royal family. The visit is interrupted when the prince receives a servant that simply says, “A firefall, your family.” It is true that something terrible has happened to his family. Later when Neil is back in the U.S. he gets the full brunt of what is going to happen. It is not going to be good.

What I liked

Chris puts a lot of history and military terms in his books. He spent a number of years in the military and knows all of this stuff. It will be interesting your first time around reading the book. I did enjoy learning more about the middle east and military terms the first time I read the series.

This book isn’t quite as religiously charged as the first book. It’s still there. This is still a Christian book, and it’s still a Mormon book for that matter, but that’s been toned down a bit in this book.

What I do find interesting is the way that Chris chooses to play the idea temptation. In the last book we learned that Satan was cast out upon the Earth with his followers. They have nothing better to do than try to bring other people down with them. In this book Chris has them right in the action. They stand beside people and whisper terrible things in their ears. It’s literally this devil on the shoulder type of deal. We usually think of temptation as this intangible idea that develops in our brains rather than anything that could be caused from an outside influence. Well, logical people think about it that way. You also have those illogical people who say a woman who wore a short skirt is at fault for being raped because she wore a short skirt. That’s just silly. Chris makes temptation a little more tangible. It’s coming from an outside source in this book. It’s interesting.

What I didn’t like

Again, Chris has limited his audience by tailoring this book to the LDS faith or any faith at all for that matter. While faith and belief used to be quite popular among the reading crowd, it’s not so popular anymore. Whether you think that says bad things about us as readers or good things about how the idea of readership has progressed beyond simple Christian inspired texts, is entirely up to you. Just because it’s not popular does not mean that it isn’t good. Chris is a fairly competent writer.

I had forgotten how much of this book was filled with a history lesson or military talk. I’m not in the military, but I do understand much of this speak since I went to a military college and spent three years or so as a military spouse. Too much military and/or history talk can bog people’s brains down. Chris’ writing is still quite easy to read, but all the military talk or strategies, maneuvers and so forth can slow things down. If that’s your slice of pie, then you will quite enjoy this book.

There are times I feel Chris is a little accusatory. Obviously, he’s had years of military experience, years of being a Mormon, and years of political awareness to create the opinion that he has. I don’t entirely agree with some of the ways in which he depicts the middle-eastern culture. I don’t agree how he jumps on the middle-eastern culture as the culture that is essentially going to start Armageddon. Just because I don’t agree, doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen, but I really kind of feel like the middle-eastern people Chris has created in this book have been profiled, but that’s just me kumbaya, we love everybody.

Overall

This book is really more like a prelude to the rest of the story, much as the first book was something of a prelude as well.



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