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Monday, March 16, 2015

Amanda G. Stevens: Found and Lost

By Kelly Bridgewater

From Amazon
Back Cover Copy:

When Violet DuBay's friend Khloe confides that her dad is a Christian, it's the one secret Violet can't keep. Turning in Khloe's dad to the Constabulary is her duty. Her decision becomes an opportunity to infiltrate the Christian resistance; but as she gets to know Marcus, Lee, and the others, she's compelled to question the things her society has taught her about God and His followers. Clay Hansen persuades his family to join him at an underground church meeting and brings Violet, his teen daughter Khloe's best friend. That night, the church is raided. He and his wife escape, but in the chaos, he loses Violet and Khloe. How can he find them with the Constabulary monitoring his every move? If the God who once spared Khloe won't intervene, Clay will have to save her himself.

My Thoughts:

I enjoy reading stories that ask an ultimate question. What if? Dystopian genre does exactly that. What if we lived in a world where books were not allowed? What if we lived in a world where Christians were hunted and re-educated? What if the Bible is a banned book that could send you to prison if you read it? Amanda G. Stevens, in her second book of the Haven Seekers series, ask those exact questions. True to the dystopian genre, Stevens has created a story for the readers to ponder and a plot that will haunt them long after they put the book down.

One of my favorite aspects of the story is the characters of Clay and Violet. Neither one of them is the actual hero or heroine; they are just the characters the readers follow during the story. I loved how Stevens allows Clay and Violet to be realistically flawed. First, Violet has been truly brainwashed and consumed by the culture that hates Bibles and Christians. After the church raid, she is taken to a Christian home and mingles with them. Violet’s story is a typical story of a conversation from the worldly view to the Christian view. Stevens does a good job at getting into the mindset of the way a non-believer thinks. Clay, however, is a great example of someone who is an active Christian, but after a while, he questions his belief. I enjoyed watching the journey and transformation Clay and Violet took.

Stevens is a master storyteller. The story is written well with an even amount of descriptions to anchor the readers and dialogue that flows naturally from the characters. I never once felt like I was taken out of the setting and the action occurring on the page. The story moves at a realistic pace and the ending makes me anxious for the next book in the series that comes out in August. The only problem I had, and I had this same problem when I read the first book, Seek and Hide, is Stevens never informed her readers how the scare of Bibles and Christians got so bad. Usually in most dystopian novels, the characters have an elder who explains the old times, but Stevens does not do this. It did not ruin the story, but I would have liked to have known this. Also, the setting is realistic enough and can happen in any town in any state. Stevens does a good job at keeping the descriptions strong when they need to be, but vague in a general sense.

The tension of the story happens internally and externally. Violet, externally, fights the Christian Resistance and, internally, fights her feelings of wanting to be loved. On the other hand, Clay, externally, fights the Constabulary, the police, and, internally, fights his feelings of losing his family. The paths Stevens set before Clay and Violet were well-developed and creates conflicts every person has at one time or another. Both characters definitely change by the end. One for the better. One for the worst. There really is no romantic tension; the story focuses on the external and internal dilemmas.

Stevens incorporates the spiritual concerns of the novel by allowing the characters to either fight for or fight against the Christian resistance. I do not think Stevens is too heavy handed with the way she does it; I believe the elements of the Bible are important to telling the story. Similarly, there is no questionable content, so the story would appeal to conservative readers of any age. Also, I think this would be a great series to pass on to unbelievers who still question whether they should follow Jesus or not. It would be a great witnessing tool told in a story form. This story is completely original and unpredictable. I enjoy how Stevens uses the familiar title backwards. I believe she highlights how one character will be lost and one found, but the characters change, so the title is flip-flopped to highlight that element.

 Overall, Amanda G. Stevens in her latest book, Found and Lost, transports her readers to a world with no Bibles or Christians, relatable characters, and explains the gospel story in a new and unique way. I really enjoyed the story and will be recommending it.

I received a complimentary copy of Found and Lost from David C. Cook Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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