Go… go… GO! Get the—”
A hand claps over my mouth. Red faces all around me. Glares. Snickers. Angry fans who turn to give me their .02 until they realize I’m five.
Yeah. I was rooting for the wrong team. You know… my brother is playing for one. We’re on “our” side of the bleachers. But I’m rooting for the other team? Yeah. That scenario.
What can I say? The guy intercepted the ball and took off way ahead of the pack of players determined to tackle him. They had no chance, and my little five-year-old self couldn’t stand it. Too exciting.
But I did wonder if Bear would ever speak to me again.
It happens in books and movies, too, you know. People draw lines with who they want “shipped.”
See, that term always bugged me. I mean, “Shipped.” It sounds like “Two ships passing in the night” to me. And that is never a happy ending. I like the happier ones. But fortunately, that’s not what it means. So instead, you have #TeamEdward and #Team-insert-name-I-cannot-recall-here or as in the case of The Vintage Wren #TeamJoel and #TeamEvan (is ANYONE on #TeamEvan?).
Note: links in this post may be affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you. Additionally, I requested a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit as a part of their blogging program and chose to review it.
When You Root for the Wrong Team: an Out of Darkness Review
I’ve never read anything by Erynn Newman, but when Celebrate Lit offered the opportunity, I jumped at it and requested a copy to review. The synopsis—riveting. The concept—cool. I knew I’d enjoy the book. And I did.
Despite knowing all along that I’d love and be disappointed in the ending. Both.
What did I think?
Out of Darkness is a suspenseful novel that actually begins rather slowly compared to some. And, frankly, that’s part of the suspense. While there is a huge inciting event right at the beginning, we spend three years getting to know some of the primary characters and anticipating the kick-off of action. Newman uses the beginning chapters both to establish characterization, increase sympathy, and build tension for the story to follow. Every time the pace slows a bit, there’s a reason for it and it serves only to amplify the pace and tension of the next section.
Ms. Newman has mostly written some interesting characters who worm their way into your heart and settle there. My take on just a few? Well…
Don’t get me wrong. I like Drew. Strong, of good character, loyal, and loving, Drew isn’t “too perfect,” but a few times he does dance that line. Where I give Ms. Newman kudos is that she didn’t try to combat that with pseudo flaws that really aren’t anything but a defense against the charge. Because of that, she keeps the reader’s interest in a character that otherwise might have become a little flat—like the shiny, happy people in many stock photos. Thankfully, she avoided that.
You know, a funny thing about her. I never was able to associate her name with her. I don’t know why. But through the whole book, she felt disconnected from her name to me. But that’s my fault rather than the author’s.
Elisabeth is rather a Mary Sue. The author treats us to constant references to her beauty and her perfection in everyone’s eyes. This is where things become fascinating. Aside from a few places where I did kind of want to say, “I get it. She’s gorgeous. Can we learn something else about her instead,” Newman did such a fabulous job making us care about her and who she is that we don’t really care that she’s so “plastic.” Because really, she is. We just don’t really notice it unless we think about it.
Seriously, he was my favorite character. I knew all along exactly what his role would be, what he’d do, how it would work out—everything. I mean, it’s obvious from the synopsis. But that didn’t keep me from cheering for him and booing anything that thwarted his purpose. In fact, one of the best teaching moments in this book is also my biggest objection to the novel. I have to be careful about how I share this, so if it’s too ambiguous, I apologize. Not willing to do spoilers here.
But Newman makes a point at the end of the book regarding Gabe’s relationship to Christ that is just spot on and beautiful. Alas, after all, she set up among the characters, the resolution felt rather like a cop-out. And that became my number one objection to the book.
Some might accuse me of being frustrated for “rooting for the wrong team,” but I really don’t think so. I mean, I am, but my objection actually comes from another source. I really do feel like Ms. Newman used it to neatly tie up a rather sloppy package. And it doesn’t work for me. Still, read her words about it in the author post below. I think she explains why it works even when it doesn’t.
He’s a bad guy. And I love him. He’s fabulous. You love to hate him and don’t want to at the same time. Seriously, I think he is one of Ms. Newman’s strongest characters. I’d love to learn more about how he came to be who he is. But I suppose that’s just silly. I just really liked him as a villain.
The deep faith demonstrated and shared in this book will encourage and enrich anyone’s reading experience. Between the discussions, the prayer, and the scripture shared, you might expect that the story became preachy. But it didn’t. And I find that rather impressive.
I recommend this book for people who love romantic suspense and stories that are character rather than plot driven. The characters drive the plot in this book. Because of that, some sections will feel slow for those who prefer plot-driven stories. I loved it, however.
Being the prude that I am, I both loved and hated how she showed her married characters as delighted in each other both physically and emotionally. I did. I think too often we try to strip our characters of their sexual sides. That’s not “clean” writing, it’s “sanitized.” That said, it did become a bit much at times. While Ms. Newman always faded to black rather quickly, I just became uncomfortable with how much there was. How often. Details danced the line a bit too often for my taste. But she didn’t actually cross it, and for those much more comfortable with physical affection demonstrated in Christian fiction than I am, they probably won’t even notice.