Entertainment Weekly does not like Frank Peretti’s latest book. “Monster is flabby and not very thrilling, filled with undercooked attacks on evolution.” Naturally, Christian Fiction Review takes up the opposing view, saying it isn’t Peretti’s best, but it is enjoyable. “The only problem with it is that some things are revealed too quickly. Following the initial terrifying first encounter with the monster, Beck is captured. While that creates the conflict for the rest of the book, it also allows the reader to see what Beck sees, which takes away much of the mystery and horror that surrounded the first encounter. The conflict shifts to trying to find her and trace the monster’s origin.”
On the other hand, Publishers Weekly praises the prose, but finds the message overbearing. “The author’s prose is clear and crisp, with only a few lapses into Lovecraftian hyperbole,” but the theme of the story begins to weigh it down about midway “and leads it to an unsatisfying and somewhat confusing end.”
But on the other hand, Amazon reviewer Wade Tisthammer (which is a great name for a fantasy/sci-fi reviewer though I originally read it as trist-hammer which sounds more like an ambitious guidance counselor) says the book was “fun.” He suggests PW’s complaint about an overbearing message is “puzzling.” “The book does contain a single criticism regarding evolution: the paucity of observed beneficial mutations. But this grew organically out of the story and led directly to the cause of the main conflict.” He gives it 3 stars mostly because it has too many, under-developed characters.
I can’t say anything on it myself, because I have not read it. Why Westbow Press didn’t send me a review copy for all the praise I’ve given them, I can’t imagine. Budget, I’d guess. But I can talk about Peretti’s last thriller, Visitation. I had high hopes for it and enjoyed reading it a few years ago. The subject has potential to the brim; but I think it is slower moving than it should be because it tries to develop a couple good characters. If that development had gone deeper, if more spirit had been revealed, than I would be satisfied, but it only peers into the deep water while staying on the shallow side. Many strong descriptions and personal thoughts are left unwritten. Still, I have no style complaints like some other Christian authors I’ve read. I think with the right editor or friend, Peretti could write a novel to make This Present Darkness look like a first draft.
Thanks for the complement on my “great name”! Incidentally, I have recently finished a novel mostly of the sci-fi genre (just mailed a query letter; don’t expect to see it in stores anytime soon, since the publishing process for a new writer can be agonizingly slow). Hopefully my name helps out in that area as well.
I said PW’s complaint was “puzzling” in regards to the accusation that it “eclipses” the story. It really doesn’t (for reasons I explained in my review).
Notably however, I’m not THAT surprised that such a criticism would be found among at least some reviewers–though I was hoping PW would be more careful. The creation-evolution controversy can be quite emotional to the extent that people (both creationists and evolutionists) can start setting up straw men and not see things clearly. Even the least bit of criticism can spark a heated and unthinking response (again, this holds true for both sides). In this fervent environment, ill-founded accusations can come up all too easily. It’s one of the reasons why I often recommend Del Ratzsch’s “The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side Is Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate” for anyone interested in the controversy. It is surprisingly objective and gives multiple examples of how people on this issue can (and have) misconstrued the opposition.
Wade, thanks for dropping by. Good luck, so to speak, on publishing your book. I agree on the origins debate, and the same complaint applies to other controversies too. Sometimes it’s hard to find rational disagreement on meaningful issues, unless neither side pushes hard.
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