Just what I was looking for, even as a re-read. A bit predictable, perhaps, and far too abrupt at the climax, even for Bunn. That’s the moment when I want to see what’s happening and watch it unfold. But altogether, this is an enjoyable read. Because several of Bunn’s books have strayed into speculative fiction, which is not my cup of tea, I wasn’t sure how realistic the presentation of this fantastic new invention would be, but it comes across as very plausible—although no one seems to address whether “free power for the masses” is really an effective way to solve a country’s problems. It would have been nice if the terms were more precise than “the apparatus,” “the machine,” “the device,” etc., but perhaps Bunn didn’t know what to call it either.
I’m one of those authors who finds it a bit strange to review one’s own books. But I have a couple of announcements to make regarding this novel of mine, and I thought it would be a good time to share some of my favorite (and not so favorite) parts of this story and its process.
First, the announcements: New cover design! No, it’s not much different than the original design, but I love the colonial-style typography and the addition of hazy sunset mountains behind the silhouette of our hero. It reminds me of this story’s setting and the “quest” feel of the second half in particular. (Promise of Refuge, the short story prequel to Preacher on the Run, also has new cover art.)
I’ve read this book so many times I’ve practically memorized it. Strong characters, taut action scenes, and a thoughtful look at the Middle East make for a great Christian suspense story without excessive violence. Bunn’s award-winning style comes through in a riveting plot and a good window into the political and religious tensions of Iran and Iraq. I learned more about Middle Eastern culture from this book than I ever did from textbooks. The setting comes alive through the different characters’ experiences, whether it’s Marc and his team on a recon in the desert or Sameh and his family in their loving home.
Reading this book, I was reminded once again of how little is required of me as a Christian in the United States—and how little I have invested in what I say is important to me. These characters were willing to endure the most horrendous things—and love the people doing those things—because of who they described as their “beautiful Jesus.” So many of the characters’ actions were convicting, not only the characters who were sacrificing everything for the cause of Christ, but also the characters who were searching and empty or thought they were entitled to have what they wanted.
Quite a change from the last book I reviewed, which was the slow and gentle Tender Grace by Jackina Stark (read my review here if you missed it). James Hannibal’s books are always a toss-up for me. I enjoy his style and characterization, but often his thrillers are a bit too dark or gruesome for me. I enjoy a good-guys-vs.-bad-guys story as much as the next girl, but most thrillers leave me with a sense of sorrow over the cavalier loss of life, and it’s especially sad when, as in this book, the victims involve young people making really bad choices. Those general thoughts apply to this book as well: great style, characters, and action, but not for sensitive readers (which I often am).