On the third and final day of the June CSFF Blog Tour, featuring Tom Pawlik's excellent suspense novel, Vanish, is a brief discussion how the story meets Christianity.
First, a sideways disagreement with the book by another reader: On the Amazon.com page for Vanish are included several comments on the book, most of them rave reviews, but the following is less than satisfactory -- not because of the quality of the story or because the writing was somehow sub par, but because of the faith of the author:
Why is the author and publisher hiding that this is a christian book? As a Jew, I don't care or want to read Christianity themed or inspired works. Readers of other beliefs, I'm sure woud feel similar. Whether you feel the same or want to read such titles, Amazon and the publisher has a responsibility to let the customer know. This is not the first book I read the review of today on my kindle that had a hidden Xtian message\agenda!At the risk of sounding snarky, the above reader must not have paid much attention to the Christian Writers Guild label right there on the front cover. Neither the author nor the publisher is hiding their faith. If a reader sees that label and chooses to pick up the book and read it, then he or she does so with fair warning.
That being said, I have read books with decidedly anti-Christian or non-Christian slants, and while I may not have agreed with them, I did not feel my faith at all threatened as a result. I already know what I believe, and why I believe it. Simply because there is a contrary argument out there, or a work of fiction that presents a contrary view, does not mean I must believe it, or that it must sway my faith. So I'm curious as to why the reviewer felt obligated to remark as she did. (shrug)
Second, that being said, this story is not a direct correlation to the Bible. Though the Bible contains stories, it is not a work of fiction (despite what our atheist friends might want us to believe). Vanish is a story. Though there might be instruction in its pages, a story's first job is to entertain, and Vanish does that quite well.
***** Minor Spoiler Alert! ***** Highlight with cursor in order to read *****
Third, the allegorical role of Christ is fulfilled by the "mute" boy, who is described as appearing about 9 years old, corresponding to the age the central character's son would have been, had he lived. "Son" was my first reaction. The boy is not a direct parallel with Christ, though he fills a certain redemptive role (saving Connor from the edge, holes in his wrists, the blood dripping from the wounds). However, his being startled by the "aliens", and his apparent fear in the graveyard and at the boat dock jars with the character of Christ as we know Him from the Bible: He would not fear evil or the unknown, because 1) His power is greater than any evil, and 2) nothing is unknown to Him.
Side note: Were I not familiar with House by Frank Peretti & Ted Dekker, I might not have already been wondering throughout the story if the boy were either Connor's son or some sort of redemptive figure. The ending, then, might have been even more of a surprise.
The boy's disappearance from the boat is never explained (unless I totally missed that part in my voracious consumption of the book), nor is his presence in the Interworld between life and death, though that presence is integral to the plot.
***** Major Spoiler Alert! ***** Highlight with cursor in order to read *****
Fourth, how does Howard, a human being in a comatose state in the living realm, become Death, the keeper of the gateway between worlds? Maybe that's explained in the sequel.
Despite my questions about a couple of matters in the plot, the book is overall a solid entry into the speculative fiction family, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a gripping, thought-provoking, and entertaining read.
For other views, check out the list of bloggers in the sidebar under the CSFF Blog Tour heading.