Friday, June 30, 2006

Review of Waking Lazarus

Here we are on the third and last day of the Waking Lazarus blog tour, in which I attempt to sound erudite and also like I know something, as I discuss my impressions of TL Hines' debut.

I must put two small caveats up front: I was going through an intensely stressful time while reading this, and one of the characters hit home for me very closely. I don't think it colors anything, but there's the disclaimer.

Actually, I quite enjoyed the book. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it was a fun read, rather than a "escape the world quick!" read. The first chapter definitely sucks you in. If the line, "The first time Jude Allman died, he was eight years old," doesn't at least pique your curiosity, then you too may be dead. Be sure to check out the first chapter at www.tlhines.com.

He does a very good job with building the characterization of Jude Allman, a man who has died 3 times and became a reluctant celebrity because of it. He disappears and hides under a false identity in the small town of Red Lodge, Montana, and works quietly as a janitor until he has a strange visitor and bad things start happening around town. We get into Jude's head and his paranoia he deals with due to his prior life, breaking a few literary standards in the process (at least, one doesn't normally see some of the techniques he uses).

The action builds up well and keeps the pages turning. When it seems the bad guy will be foiled too soon, there's a couple of twists and the story keeps going. I felt that he gives away Jude's three near death experiences a little too soon in the story, as these flashbacks seemed to really set my anticipation for what was happening, but it doesn't distract either.

The tone is a little dark. As mentioned in Tony's interview yesterday (see below), the antagonist is the Hunter, and he is a serial kidnapper. This can be a little disconcerting, especially when someone has kids. The very squemish may have a problem here, but any gory details are kept far off-screen (page?). One of his influences is Stephen King, but unlike his books, there is hope at the end.

There's a spiritual theme that weaves in and out of the story, and it feels appropriate to the story and characters. It's not tacked on to make this part of the Christian fiction fold; in fact, it can be enjoyed by anyone and they won't feel preached at or intruded upon. It's a nice touch overall.

I would rate this book highly as a very good debut novel. I look forward to seeing what comes next from the mind of TL Hines. He says part of his inspiration for WL was working cleaning cadaver labs in college, and picturing them sitting up and talking to him. I don't know what other inspirations he has for stories, but if they entertain and cause suspense like WL, then I won't care - I'll just enjoy reading them!

2 comments:

  1. Nice job, Jason. Good interview, good review. A very quality job on the tour, I'd say. Tony should be pleased. You obviously put a lot of time into it and everything you've said would intrigue me enough to check this book out.

    Becky

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  2. Thanks, Jason. I'm especially grateful, since parts of the book were hard for you to read. And sometimes, hard for me to write.

    I promise, the next one will feature no kids in peril.

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