There has been discussion on this month's Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour concerning storytelling style and certain allegorical elements, so I'm adding my two cents.
First, and most obvious: This book is not intended for adults. Its protagonist is fifteen, and the narrative begins with the unexpected results of a prank pulled on the last day of school for that year. Most middle grade or junior high readers who pick up the book will be hooked. For us adults, such an opening may not hold any appeal. We've already endured being fifteen, we've survived to (insert your age here), and we'd like to move on, thank you very much.
Second: Yes, there are allegorical elements. I refer again to the first point: This book is not intended for adults. We have read wider, encountered more types of stories, than our youthful counterparts. To us, allegory is obvious. To a twelve-year-old, not so obvious. He or she isn't necessarily looking for a direct correlation between characters or objects and the real world or holy writ, but for a good story that draws the reader in and surrounds them with interesting characters, events, settings. Most children and teens don't consider the deeper aspects of stories, or the real-world parallels, until they start analyzing literature in school. Though such analysis teaches much, it can also detract from the pure enjoyment of story.
Now, about Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow:
The Author's mark, the triple-V motif, is cool -- Via, Veritas, Vita. Way, Truth, Life. The swords and arrows are cool, too, not being weapons until needed, until the hilts are wielded or the bowstrings drawn. The book's ability to literally absorb its readers in the story made me laugh out loud -- not from mockery, but from the idea that letters can open wide and swallow the reader. That's not quite the image in the novel, though; when Hunter first reads the book, the letters are see-through, and he is sucked into them, into the story they describe.
These elements intrigue me now, and would have done so if such a book were available when I was a kid. Any story including mystical portals, space travel, time travel, magic keys, secret codes, special swords, alternate dimensions -- any book with the strange and fantastical -- grabbed my attention. My mother often expressed concern that I was filling my mind with evil notions and falsehoods masquerading as truth. She was right to be concerned, because much of what I read was dark and could have led me into unhealthy interests. With Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow, parents need not have my mother's worry. In addition to an engaging story and a protagonist with whom they can identify, readers will be presented with life-applicable threads of truth woven among the story's events.
I had intended a different post for today, but those thoughts can wait until tomorrow. Meantime, there's a page -- Join the Resistance -- on The Miller Brothers' website, where readers 13 and older can sign up to become Codebearers, play the Codebearer challenges (the deadline for prizewinning is past, but the game's still available), and participate in the Codebearer Community. Also, the entire text of the book is available online, for kids who may not be able to get to the bookstore themselves. How awesome is that?
For other perspectives on the book, visit these blogs:
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Todd Michael Greene
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Rachel Starr Thomson