Christ's Glory, Not Mine

by science fiction author Andrea J. Graham

CFBA Tour: Timescape by Robert Robert Liparulo

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Timescape from Thomas Nelson (July 14, 2009)  by Robert Liparulo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robert Liparulo is a former journalist, with over a thousand articles and multiple writing awards to his name. His first novel, Comes a Horseman, was released to critical acclaim. His other titles include Germ, Deadfall, and Deadlock—secured his place as one of today’s most popular and daring thriller writers.

He is known for investing deep research into his stories and has appeared as an expert on the topics that arise in his fiction on such media outlets as CNN and ABC Radio.

Currently, three of his novels for adults are in various stages of development for the big screen: the film rights to Comes A Horseman. were purchased by the producer of Tom Clancy’s movies; and Liparulo is penning the screenplays for GERM and Deadfall for two top producers. He is also working with the director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, Holes) on a political thriller. Novelist Michael Palmer calls Deadfall “a brilliantly crafted thriller.” March 31st marked the publication of Deadfall’s follow-up, Deadlock, which novelist Gayle Lynds calls, “best of high-octane suspense.”

Liparulo’s bestselling young adult series, Dreamhouse Kings, debuted last year with House of Dark Shadows and Watcher in the Woods. Book three, Gatekeepers, released in January, and number four, Timescape, in July. The series has garnered praise from readers, both young and old, as well as attracting famous fans who themselves know the genre inside and out.

ABOUT THE BOOK

David, Xander, Dad, and Keal have discovered a terrible secret. Now, finding Mom is only a small part of their mission. And time is running out. Using the portals to build an empire, Taksidian wants the house for himself, and there’s nothing he won’t do to get the family out. The consequences of his meddling reach far beyond the family–to the future of the world itself. The Kings know their survival depends on stopping the bloodthirsty assassin. If only they can find his weakness in time.

Will their tinkering in time reunite the family and save the future . . . or set mankind on an irreversible course of destruction?

Andrea’s Comments: Okay, I just learned that I am used to science fiction and fantasy titles being apart of the CSFF tour, because I could have sworn this was for their August tour coming in a few weeks . . . only to figure out it was a CFBA tour . . . that ran last week. *Slaps forehead*

Seriously, reading this right next to the review coming up later this month for another YA title I was asked to review was interesting, because the ages of the books young heroes indicate a similar audience: 9-15 year olds for Timescape, but the writing of Timescape is far more mature. I tend to lean towards Timescape being meant and well targeted for the teens.

Though spending signficant time in the heads of a nine year old, a twelve year old, and Dad is quite daring for YA, the author pulls it off well. Even his having  Dad mentally referring to himself as Mr King made more sense than one YA novel that annoyed me by having the heroine mentally calling her own mother Mrs. Last Name.  Of course, he wouldn’t call himself that realistically, but the departure makes sense as a device to make it easier for a young reader to cope with being in the head of an adult, though whether it’s actually strictly necessary I can’t say. I think some youths might surprise us.

The amount of research is patently obvious, and for the most part worked in appropriately, meaning I buy that the character explaining this both knows this and would tell it to the other person at this moment.

Like a lot of thriller and action adventure authors, Liparulo is convieniently ignorant of the Bible’s position on obeying civil authories. While Liparulo states in the book a popular opinion that it’s okay to break the law, etc. if the fate of mankind is at stake, or they are ignorantly endangering your loved ones, Romans 13 and the book of Acts is quite clear the only time it is biblically acceptable to disobey civil authorities is when their orders/laws contradict God’s. So this isn’t the simple matter of opinion one might think. One could make a respectable argument that they’re obeying God rather than man in saving a life, but I didn’t understand that to be the author’s argument, or if it was, it could have been far better stated.

Though, I have to say, the common trope of the police officer getting in the hero’s way and endangering lives by not listening to him/her is very insulting to the men and women who fight every day on America’s streets to protect our citizens. And ironically, it didn’t even actually show up on stage in this book. It was in a previous book and a couple of characters decided to rehash it when they were feeling guilty about sneaking into the hospital after hours.

Is it wrong for a writer to have characters who break the law? Actually, I’ll have to say it’s not. If having sin of any sort portrayed in your books was prohibited, Christians would need to stop writing and stop reading because no sin means no conflict and no conflict means no story.

What we need to be careful of is pretending this is saintly behavior. While I appreciate there are doctrinal disagreements, the fact is, there is a standard of truth, the bible, and the simple fact of disagreement doesn’t make truth any less true. I don’t want to major on minors, but we do need to be careful regarding Romans 13 and civil disobedience, because in the world’s eyes,  it reflects poorly on the Church when we break the law–including traffic laws. If you must speed, please don’t do it with a Jesus fish on your bumper.

But I digress.

Seriously, for book four, Liparulo did good. Despite the “stop, read this series from the beginning” warning, I was able to figure out what was going on fairly quickly for being dropped into the middle of the climax from page one–and we hadn’t reached the end of it by the last page, either.

It was much like starting to listen to an episode of the Old Time Radio Superman show in the middle of a series, only he made the character’s recaps far more believable. I did think he carried his justification a bit too far when when the character prone to  mentally rehearsing events started recapping this novel’s events too, but the author also seemed to know when the reader had had enough of that.

Starting in media res and ending with a cliff hanger is a dangerous move that can lend the feel of reading one volume of a multi-volume novel, and from the middle of the set at that, but if he laughs at danger, he shows himself a professional (albeit one that needlessly tosses in my pet peeve-thought tagging–here and there, but that’s not uncommon among long time established authors) .

Parents should be aware there is quite a bit of blood and severed body parts in the book, which some parents may not feel appropriate for their child, and that the Christian content is so subtle I had trouble identifying any clear Christian themes without the reading guide. That’s  largely a matter of the individual reader’s preferences, however,  so I want to make you aware of this issue without prejudice. If extremely subtle is your cup of tea and gore does not cause any spiritual problems for you, this is a wild romp and a fun ride.