Tuesday, May 22, 2012

CSFF Tour - Beckon Day 1

Crawling out from the depths, my eyes are blinded by the light of day. Oh, it is time for a new Christian Sci-Fi/Fantasy Tour? I have to climb out from under my rock?

Well, *only* for the CSFF Tour.

This month we are featuring Beckon by Tom Pawlik. You can check out Tom's blogwebsite, Facebook page, or even Twitter for more.

Beckon, Wyoming, is not on any map. You don't end up in Beckon by chance. If you are called to Beckon and accept, there is no leaving, but the choice is to live forever.

The book follows three separate individuals on their own quests that lead them to Beckon. Jack is hunting for clues about his missing archeologist father. Elina is a disgraced police officer tracking her kidnapped cousin. George is looking for a cure for his wife's condition.

Once they all arrive, they learn the secret of Beckon. And now that they are there, how are they going to leave?


Beckon is a book with an imaginative premise, potential for a lot of suspense, and some thought-provoking issues at the heart of the book. I'll come back to the ideas tomorrow, but I wanted to review the book today.

I wish I loved the book, but it just didn't work for me. Reviewing books can look at craft, skill, plot, and various other story elements, but sometimes it comes down to the voice of the author. Their writing connects with a particular reader or it doesn't. That's my main problem - I didn't find it engaging.

There are some real strengthens I can identify. The writing is solid in description for the most part and there is a lot of suspense. The sense of danger permeates most of the book, so the plot doesn't suffer from lack of conflict. The core themes or ideas are very intriguing to think about, and they offer good fodder for moral dilemma in the final third of the book.

Some craft choices affected my enjoyment of the book. He has four sections of the book. Jack, Elina, and George each have their story introduced. Once they all end up in Beckon and the major secret is revealed, the final act begins with their arcs intertwined. My problem was that I didn't really engage with the book until George's section in act 3. Until then I didn't really care what happened to the main characters, and I was reading out of duty for the tour instead of really digging the book. Now, once I hit that point I really wanted to see it through to the end. Several things were predictable to me, but at least at that point I cared about what was happening.

The setting of mountainous western Wyoming is a couple of hours from my backyard. It is majestic country, but I didn't get a sense of the scenery when things were above ground. A majority of the story is in caves or houses, but I wish the beautiful setting came out more.

Ultimately it comes back to the lack of connection. The book is not poorly written. I wish the first section created more empathy for Jack, because I didn't have a feel for him or Elina to really care. The prose is solid and suspense is good, but I just didn't invest until 2/3 or 3/4 through the book. Other readers may engage right away, so if you can try it out I say go for it.

We have a lot of other tourmates with other opinions. I haven't checked out any yet, waiting to get my thoughts out before I visited them. Now that I've given my review, I'll check out my friends below, and encourage y'all to do the same. Who knows, maybe I'm off my rocker (wouldn't be the first time...).

Noah Arsenault
 Julie Bihn
Thomas Clayton Booher
Thomas Fletcher Booher
 Beckie Burnham
Brenda Castro
Theresa Dunlap
Nikole Hahn
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Janeen Ippolito
Becky Jesse
Carol Keen
Rebekah Loper
Katie McCurdy
Shannon McDermott
Karen McSpadden
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Faye Oygard
Crista Richey
Kathleen Smith
Jessica Thomas
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Shane Werlinger
In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher with no obligation.


  1. I kind of thought, reading the book, that not everybody would connect with all the characters. I liked the book--- I thought it was a good, fast-paced story--- but it is nice to see other people's reactions to it.

  2. It's interesting, Jason. I didn't connect with Jack much. I tried to figure out why. I think it's a writerly thing. I did connect with Elina, though. I admired her for trying to find her ... well, I almost gave a spoiler without announcing it. But you know what I was about to say. The point is, her doing something selfless made me like her even though I didn't know her well. I think I felt great sympathy for George, so cared for him, too.

    But like Nissa, the action pushed me forward. I didn't think it was as fast-paced as she and others thought, but I did want to get out of the caves and never go back in again. Ever! ;-)


  3. I'm like you, I may have stopped reading early on because I just wasn't buying the characterizations. The characters initially seemed flat to me, to the point of being silly. But, I became drawn in rather quickly, once they were in the caves. After that, it was less about characters for me, and more about finding out what this weird story was all about. I'm glad I kept reading.