Monday, August 24, 2009

Why I Don't Like Book Reviews

Today's book review is written by Tracy - with a heavy heart as I write.

Heavy because, although the story is great, the writing is excellent, I just can't recommend that you read it.

Steven James' latest thriller The Knight is so gory, so filled with evil, I kept asking myself why a Christian writer would feel compelled to write it. I'm a firm believer in showing good versus evil, but as Christians, aren't we given a responsibility to show hope, too? The Knight does not give hope. It's a satisifying read, but left me with a hovering darkness that evil prevailed.

The story itself is well-written, with plenty of plot twists and turns. The characters are real and three-dimensional.

As I prepared to write this review, I read many others, to see if I was off-base or if my opinion was vastly different than others. I read reviews that said the book is definitely not for the squeamish, and one even said, "little Christian content." I'm not a squeamish person, but The Knight was still too much for me - too much for any decent person to have to, or want to, absorb.

Since this is the first Steven James book I've read, and since this book is one of a series, I can only hope that the following books lead the reader to hope. But because of the gore and evil in this book alone, I won't read others to find out.

I'm truly sorry, Mr. James. You are indeed a great storyteller and writer. I just don't understand your purpose for putting such horror into our imaginations - Christian or not. (Phil. 4:8)

Readers - I'd love your take on this subject. Am I too harsh? Do you have a problem with overly graphic novels? Is there a line that we, as Christian writers, should not cross?

From a press release:

Steven James is one of the nation’s most innovative storytellers—with a Master of Arts in Storytelling degree to prove it. For the past decade, he has been crafting compelling and evocative stories that pull readers into the thick of his brilliant, mind-bending plots, and his latest creative endeavor is no different: The Knight, the third installment in his bestselling series of thrillers, is full of the chilling twists and adrenaline-laced action that readers have come to expect from James.

The Knight picks up in The Bowers Files series, starring FBI criminologist Patrick Bowers, who is assigned to tracking the country’s most dangerous killers. But when he is called to his most disturbing crime scene yet, Bowers begins to realize that this criminal mastermind has actually been tracking him.

To get to the bottom of this cold-blooded case, Bowers uses his cutting-edge investigative techniques to decipher the evidence and discovers that the murderer has been using an ancient manuscript as a blueprint for his crimes. This sends Bowers on a race against time to stop the killer before he takes his next victim in another grisly crime.

But even as he is working to crack the clues of this bloody trail, Bowers finds himself stumped by another matter: An old murder case haunts him, causing him to question himself and wonder which is more important—truth or justice. The answer might set a killer free or change Bowers into a criminal himself.

Keeping readers guessing until the very end, James has earned rave reviews from the likes of Publishers Weekly, which called his thrillers “a wild ride with a shocking conclusion.” The Knight offers readers more of the same, as the satisfying follow-up to his previous bestselling psychological thrillers in The Bowers Files series, The Pawn and The Rook.

Available August 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

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Andi said...


I loved the book! I am a huge forensic buff, and while I didn't read the Pawn, I did read the Rook and I loved all of it! I think there is a place for this in the Christian realm; because it's real and it happens. I read Patricia Cornwell religiously but I got tired of all the vulgar language she used in the book. Steven James does it with out putting that in and it's awesome! The pace is fast and you keep turning the pages to see what happens next. I stayed up til 3am to finish it. When it comes to the murder of a loved one what is hope? Is it when the purportrator is caught and put behind bars? I don't know that is for each individual victim and their family.

Cindy said...

Traci, thanks for your honesty. I've had to give a review like this in the past, of a book that had very little Christian content. My primary frustration was that people would pick it up in a bookstore, expecting a certain theme (expecting at least some thread of religious theme to be woven inside) and would unfortunately be mislead. I've never heard of this author before but I appreciate reading your opinion. Thanks!

bigguysmama said...

I thoroughly appreciate your honest review. I read the 2nd book in this series and it was good. I don't know that I'd be able to read this book because I don't do well with graphic issues, especially ones that don't allow for hope to prevail.

Something along this vein needs to have God's hope of overcoming the evil. Without that, I'd find it hard to enjoy any of it!

Mimi B @ Woven by Words

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Tracy -

While no one wants to post an unfavorable review, don't we also have a responsibility to the reader? People have limited resources, and a review helps them decide where to spend their hard-earned bucks.

When I find a well-written (or not so well-written) book that I can't recommend because of the content, I pass up the opportunity to review it. If I've committed to reviewing it for one of the publishers, then I must do so with integrity.

Susan :)

Christina Berry said...

Tracy, I read another review that said about the same thing. The reviewer was unable to finish the book because she couldn't stomach the gore.

Yet I don't doubt that if Mr. James has the talent to write well--and it appears that he does--that he will find many readers who love his stories.

Thank you for giving an honest review. To each, his or her own!