This was definitely one of his best for teens. Quick on the action and full of positive elements in a world of discouragement. Klavan is able to write a intriguing thriller, while giving a message of hope. I was encouraged by the whole. I would strongly recommend this book to teens that I come into contact with.
The story centers around a missions group that travels to Mexico to help build a school. Things build crazily from there as the team finds themselves caught in a revolution.
Be warned, there is murder in this book and other more mature situations. Still, it is tame compared to other novels available.
Klavan also writes from a conservative worldview… His characters wrestle with faith and real issues, not just whether or not to date the attractive vampire boy. Teens who read this will be confronted with revolutions and evil regimes, good vs. evil, and doing the best for someone even if it’s hard and costs you something.
The strongest character is a young woman named Meredith. The main character continually notices the fearlessness in this young woman and wonders at her ability to persevere in the trials. The boys in the book notice the beauty in Meredith’s resolve and character, not just in her looks.
Be sure to pick this one up for your teenage boy. I think it will keep him hooked and provide some positive themes and lessons that are missing in other popular books.
In one case, the main character does the right thing by standing up for a girl. In the process he is merked. He comments about the experience afterward mentioning the fact that sometimes the right thing doesn’t actually feel too good. It’s the truth. The maxim that tells us to do whatever feels good doesn’t mesh well with reality.
In his attempt to clear his name and find the truth, Sam Hopkins, the main character, lives out an overtly Christian worldview. He is a pastor’s kid that seems sincere about living a meaningful life. There are just dangerous parts to that life. I don’t think my pastor’s kid upbringing compares, but that’s OK.
This Christian parent (and pastor’s kid for that matter) is thankful for Klavan’s worldview that matches with Jesus’ true words of spirit and life.
Divergent Series by Veronica Roth – Better than Hunger Games by far. This young Christian author weaves a great story of the fight for good and the evil that can exist within us all.
Pathfinder Series by Orson Scott Card – His Mormon background adds some much needed morality to the dystopian malaise. A strong and loving marriage is also on display in the book, which is often not a characteristic of a YA book. I just recently finished the second book in the series, Ruins, and though it is a little heady with the philosophy, it still kept me interested and caused me to think.
Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness – A great, innovative concept, but very graphic at times. I see boys enjoying this series more than girls. The final book in the series is one of the best. This series will get your moral imagination working. Also, romance is a part of the story, but it is meaningful and not overdone.
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi – Fast paced story about a boy beating the odds. There is some language and tough situations, but I believe it is shown in a truthful light. He has a new book called “The Drowned Cities.” I’ll hopefully read that and be able to review it soon.
Hunger Games Trilogy – I say this only to be different, but N. D. Wilson has shown that Katniss’ sacrifice is really no sacrifice at all. She goes on to do great evil against her fellow man. See his take at: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2012/05/17/why-hunger-games-is-flawed-to-its-core/
Any crazy romantic paranormal dystopian fluff… I have to say that I haven’t read them, but they don’t look redemptive just by their covers. I know, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. But sometimes, yes, do judge it. I watch many high school students, regardless of their faith, reading books that I wouldn’t want anyone to read no matter their age. It is my hope that parents would be more aware of the content going through the heart of children.