I have been with the CFBA from the first featured book and I haven't read many of them at all because, while I think there's an audience for Christian fiction, frankly, most of the stories sucked and they weren't well done. (I'm hard to please, I've said it before, I'll say it again.) So I've stuck to the pre-written posts and just put books on my blog I thought my readers might enjoy.
However...Through the Fire is very well written. It's not all surface, white-picket-fence stuff. There was an underlying theme--and it was good. The author didn't spell out what it was, he let the story tell it's story which indicates a maturity level that gives credit to his readers.
Two things made me read the book. First, the personal correspondence from Shawn. He made an effort. That is huge. Second was the fact he was named "Most Promising New Writer" at Mt. Hermon. When I got the book, I wanted to know who his editor was. Dave Long. I knew at that point, after the alignment of those ingredients that I'd probably finish the book. I knew for sure I'd finish the book when I couldn't stop reading and I was five chapters in. Usually, I get to the third (if I'm lucky) and that's that. Through the Fire was different, though.
The characters were real--which to me is the first thing a story needs to have. None of them seemed cardboard, stereotypical, or out of place. And I didn't roll my eyes once. Not once!
The story was fantastic. It certainly wasn't contrived. I wasn't ever sure of anything and that's a good thing. I shouldn't be able to guess who the culprit is. The tension was great. The internal tension, external tension to the main character's situation, and physical tension with "the girl."
And there were tequila drinking scenes. Wow!
There were a few scenes that didn't forward the story, but considering the fast pace of this book, a break here and there was not annoying.
The use of scripture--really, I loved it. I loved that it wasn't just stuck in there because it had to be. It was part of the story. It is the story.
I have to admit, I thought I'd read this and not be able to give it a good review. There was very little I didn't like. Good job, Shawn!
If you would like to read the first chapter of Through the Fire, go here.