Ted Dekker: Eyes Wide Open, Review

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I’ve just started Ted Dekker’s Outlaw series, so I thought I’d review the series. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve reviewed a novel (not since T.L. Hines Waking Lazarus I believe) and it’s time I wrote one again. I’m going to be reviewing the first novel in the series, Eyes Wide Open (if you don’t count the Outlaw novel, which is the introduction novel to the series). So how does it rank in Ted’s amazing library?

Continue reading “Ted Dekker: Eyes Wide Open, Review”

T.L. Hines, Waking Lazarus, Review

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T.L. Hines is a very unknown author in the Christian fiction world, yet I can’t see why. I just finished his debut novel, Waking Lazarus, and I have to say, what a novel!

The story is about a man named Jude Allman, who has died three times, and each time has risen back to life. He can’t figure out the reason for this, and soon he ends up changing his identity and becomes a janitor to avoid the press who wants to use him for their own healing.

Soon he gets visited by a girl named Kristina, claiming that he’s something special and has been called by the Lord. Since Jude wasn’t a Christian, it was hard to accept this so he wrote her off as just another fan trying to get healing.

But soon he begins to get visions and he tastes copper just before someone dies. It begins with a guy who gets run over, then a nurse who was about to commit suicide. The visions get creepier as the story progresses, and soon he finds himself rescuing two children from a child kidnapper.

It’s then where things get scary. Jude, the Chief of police, Odum, and Jude’s partner, Rachel, embark on the most dangerous mission of their lives.

The twists in the end will leave you shocked, and they were definitely something I didn’t see coming!

Waking Lazarus is a brilliant thriller/horror novel about God’s perseverance in our lives. It shows that nothing can stop His plans, not even death, as seen when Jude gets hit by lightening, drowns in freezing water, and freezes inside a car.

The content is pretty soft for a novel of this kind. It does get violent, but nothing a young teenager couldn’t handle. Jude dies several times, and gets chased by a man with an ax. Children are seen being held captive in cages, one is chained to a bed and several are stuffed in bags while unconscious, a woman gets shot in the head, and a car falls off a cliff.

I highly recommend Waking Lazarus by T. L. Hines for fans of thriller and horror in the same vein as Peretti and Dekker. And other than a few scenes of violence, there is nothing else you need to worry about,so it’s quite clean. I’d recommend twelve and over, but I doubt they would understand what’s happening; even I didn’t get it at times, and I found a few scenes to be a bit strange.

But overall, Waking Lazarus is a fine testament to God’s faithfulness.

4.5/5

God Bless!

Frank Peretti, The Visitation, Book and film review

The Visitation Novel Review

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Christian fiction legend, Frank Peretti. is an absolute master of the thriller/horror genre. With over twenty books under his belt, including children’s and young adult’s, he’s impacted the world with his tales of spiritual warfare. His fifth adult book, the Visitation is no exception. This book was also adapted into film so I’ll review both. First, the novel.

The Visitation is a complicated story, basically because it has so many characters it’s nearly impossible to keep up. The story is about a burned out minister named Travis Jordan whose wife died of cancer (Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler). It then goes on to this mysterious man who enters the town of Antioch. He performs miracles in the same vein as Jesus Christ. Eventually this man builds such a following that nearly the whole town believes he’s the messiah who’s come again in the flesh. All except Travis Jordan, the new minster, Kyle Sherman, and the former minster, Morgan Elliott. Eventually other’s join the action, but that’s not until later.

The story is two fold. Not only is it about a false Christ deceiving the town, but it’s also about Travis Jordan’s journey to becoming a minster. Over half of this 520 page book is a flashback going through Travis Jordan’s life from teenager to minister. He and his wife travel to every kind of pentecostal church imaginable, and just about every one is crazy.

The story has a lighter feel than his others, but the dark atmosphere is still there. Throughout the book Peretti makes fun of the pentecostal’s crazy ways, such as walking around yelling out in tongues, and their obsession with money. It’s pretty hilarious how they act sometimes. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing at one point!

The flashback’s are a story in themselves. It goes from him finding a job, falling in love, then being dumped, then falling in love again, then getting married, then finding the best church to serve in….. It goes on for a very long time, and it will bore impatient readers quickly. I for one, was not bored with it at all! Who gets bored of romance? 🙂 Anyway, as good as the flashback scenes were, he could’ve cut a good load out without deterring from the story.

Throughout the story of the false Christ, Peretti goes to warn about the dangers of following signs and wonders, which I mentioned in my last post. These signs lead to a big spiritual deception, and by the third half, things get pretty disturbing and scary. It was interesting to see how the church reacted to a messiah in the flesh, and it wasn’t pretty.

Content wise there’s nothing in the first two thirds you need to worry about. The first two thirds are really a drama, and the suspense doesn’t come in until the last third. That’s where it takes on the horror role, and all the violence is packed into that last half. It gets very disturbing at times, for example, there’s a story about a young boy being crucified to a fence, possessed people act crazy and start beating people, and demons are actually visible inside homes, so it gets very scary. At one scene a very young girl is murdered by a demon in a very gruesome manner. That is the worst scene in the book, but it’s only a fleeting moment.

Overall though, this is one of Peretti’s masterpieces! It’s written so well and it flows so smoothly that it feels like you’re actually there with the characters! Reading this it’s evident that Peretti is the king of Christian fiction!

5/5

The Visitation, film review.

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This film adaption of Peretti’s novel is hard to describe. At one point it sticks pretty close to the book in the essential story, on another it strays pretty far in details. Such as the death of Travis’ wife in the beginning. That’s the major change.

The film, to me, has much more of a darker tone than the book, and it’s not afraid to call itself a horror film. It’s a typical Christian film really: Bad quality, mediocre acting, and rushed story line. The characters are not how I pictured them in the book at all! The girl Travis marries in the end is a Christian in the book, but in the film she isn’t. That was a sad change.

Story wise it is an abridged version of the book, and leaves more out than it changes. The flashbacks are not even evident in this film, and I was very disappointed in that since the flashbacks contain some of the very best scenes from the book.

Content wise the film is rated M (Australian rating) and doesn’t really have anything objectionable in it. Violence is pretty minimum, there’s nothing sexual, there’s no language, which is a great change for this type of film. The objectionable stuff is in the tone of the film. It’s pretty scary, so it’s not suitable for twelve years and under. Young teenagers won’t have a problem. The possession scenes are poorly done as well, and are more comical than scary.

Overall this film was a disappointment, though not a complete failure. In the end the Bible is what saves, so it’s Christian message is pretty strong.

2.5/5

I must take note that this book and film are not for the unbeliever. They will think Christian’s are a bunch of crazies if they read or watch it. It’s obviously written for Christian’s alone and is not for evangelical use.

Anyway I highly recommend the Visitation by Frank Peretti in it’s novel form. Skip the film. It may not be the happiest story ever written, but it certainly opens eyes!

William Sirls, the Reason, Review

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Hi readers, thought I’d do a review of one of my favourite books, The Reason, by William Sirls.

“Only Believe.” That’s a main caption of the story, and sums up story in one sentence. Let me elaborate.

The story is complex and involves several characters all centered around one anchoring object that holds the story together, a cross. It begins with a bang as a bolt of lightening strikes the cross in half. It’s then this mysterious carpenter appears in town and begins to do things that aren’t normal. Who is this guy? That’s for you to find out.

The characters involve a mother whose son is diagnosed with leukemia, a doubting doctor whose past haunts him, an alcoholic who is on the verge of suicide, and a blind pastor with a retarded son.

The story revolves around the cross being mysteriously repaired by the carpenter and things escalate down from there. When I say down I don’t mean bad, I mean depressing.

This whole story is very depressing and deals mostly with a child’s slow death. Those who don’t like sad stories will definitely not like this one. I myself could hardly read the last quarter due to its dark and depressing story line.

(Major spoiler alert.)

If you are worried about the ending and questioning if it ends on a hopeful level, don’t worry. In the end the stranger appears at the church where the boy’s mom is crying. He’s holding the boy’s hand and the mother and son unite for a happy ending.

(End of spoiler)

Overall this is an amazing book about faith and the broken human condition. Though it isn’t without its flaws. First off the writing isn’t the best I’ve read, it’s just average. The story at times was very similar to the Joshua novel by Joseph F. Girzone, and at times it moves very slow. The last 150 pages are nearly entirely set in a hospital and seem to stretch forever. There are quite a lot of characters, but compared to Peretti’s novels it isn’t much.

So now I’ll deal with the content: Spoilers may follow.

Violence: There are a few scenes at a bar where characters beat each other up. A girl jumps off a bridge but we later see that she is okay. The whole story is about a boy with cancer so that may be regarded as violence.

Language: None.

Sex: None, except for one scene where a girl wakes in a married man’s house with a vomit stain on her shirt. The daughter of the man comes in and says “You shouldn’t have kissed Daddy. Only Mommy can kiss Daddy.”

There is nothing objectionable in this book, but it isn’t for everyone. Even though the ending portrays hope, it dwells so much on hopelessness that the writer could’ve cut a good 50 pages or more out easily without effecting the story. So in the end, I’d highly recommend this incredible story by William Sirls, with some slight caution due to upsetting scenes.

4/5 stars.

Ted Dekker, The Priest’s Graveyard, Review.

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Hi readers. I just finished reading the Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekker and thought I’d do a quick review for any who would like to read it. I’ll try not to reveal spoilers, and if I do I’ll warn you 🙂

Okay, so what it is about? Well, if you’re confused by the title and think it’s a haunted graveyard story, you’re wrong. In fact an actual graveyard never makes a single appearance. The Priest’s Graveyard is a metaphorical title. To understand it you need to understand what the story is about.

The story is about injustice. It’s about this priest named Danny Henson who, when he was sixteen, witnessed the death and rape of his sisters and mother. Eventually he shot the soldiers who killed his family, and it was then that he took on the “calling” of killing every sicko out there. Everyone who hurts others, he inflicts those same punishments on them, and at times it gets disturbingly gory.

Meanwhile a lone girl named Renee Gilmore was fleeing in the streets from her captor, Cyrus, who had abused her. To make her life even more dreadful she also had an addiction to heroin.

Soon, a man named Lamont Myers rescues her and takes her in and takes care of her. He helps her grow stronger and escape her addiction with help from other medications and drugs. Eventually they fall in love and marry.

I won’t give away Lamont’s details because it’s a major twist in the end.

Soon Lamont is killed, and Renee makes it her objective to kill the man who killed her lover, Johnathon Bourque. Soon Danny and Renee cross paths and what happens through the remaining pages is an exciting thrill ride with many twists and turns. And yes, Danny and Renee eventually fall in love as he helps her go after Johnathon Bourque.

(Spoiler Alert)

At the end Danny and Renee realize that everyone is guilty, not only the ones who hurt others. They realize God’s grace and mercy and learn that we shouldn’t judge others. The Scripture that’s echoed throughout is, “Judge not lest thou be judged.” We shouldn’t judge others in our sight and determine who is guilty of death or not, because we all are. So in a nutshell that’s the message and story behind it.

(Spoiler end)

Be warned, this isn’t a book for younger readers. I’ll go through the content on the bottom, it may contain spoilers.

Violence: Lost of disturbing murders done in a horrific way, but it’s not constant. That being said, the times it does come are very shocking and may deter the sensitive readers. For example a man gets cut up in pieces, lots of people are shot, and a man gets his tongue cut off while in a drugged sleep. Yep, pretty disgusting, but it’s all done with very little description.

Language: Since it’s a Christian book cursing is absent. The characters do call others names like idiot, but that’s as far as it goes.

Sex: None in action, lots of past references, and a girl is threatened sexually once. A lot of references to rape and sexual abuse, but it’s only past references and nothing is seen in action. Passionate kissing in multiple scenes.

Drugs: Again, nothing taken in action, but a lot of references to Heroin since the main character was addicted by it.

Overall this obviously isn’t a kids book, so I’d recommend years fifteen and over, and only then with caution. But despite all the violence, this is an amazing book with a great message. Yes, there are evil people who deserve death, but we’re all just as guilty. We all put Jesus on that cross, that’s the worst offence anyone could commit, and yet He did it to save us anyway.

That’s grace.

3.5/5 stars.