Monday, February 27, 2012

Review: Firethorn by Ronie Kendig

Title: Firethorn (Discarded Heroes #4)
Author: Ronie Kendig
Genre: Contemporary Christian
Heat Index: 1 out of 5
Release Date: 1/2012
Word/Page Count: 350 pp
Format: Netgalley

Former Marine Griffin Riddell had found purpose working with Nightshade—until he’s falsely convicted of a murder that plants him in a federal penitentiary. Is there anyone he can trust? Amid explosive confusion, covert operative Kazi Faron breaks Griffin out of a maximum-security prison. Then she delivers the death-blow—-the Nightshade team has been dismantled. Together Kazi and Griffin must rescue the others and figure out who’s behind the sabotage. Can two people overcome their mistrust of each other in time to save Nightshade?

Former Marine Griffin Riddell, framed for murder and sent to prison, trusts no one but his Nightshade brothers. When treachery dismantles the team, the only person Griffin can rely on is the super efficient, icy spy, Kazi Faron. But she has her own agenda and it might cost the lives of his teammates.

I must admit, I requested this book based on the cover and the blurb. I expected an exciting action-adventure romance. I had no idea it was the fourth book in the series and that it's under the label of Christian fiction/romance. Unfair as it is, my expectations immediately decreased when I saw the Christian label.

Color me convinced. This book is no preachy vanilla story. Kudos to Ms. Kendig for going the distance and making the resolution to the conflict truly unexpected. Despite being a little disoriented in the beginning with all of the characters, I truly enjoyed the various POVs and connections to the previous books, even without reading them. This story is exciting, tense, spiritual, heartbreaking...

And utterly ruined to me because of the frustrating, jerky, ridiculously jarring and ultimately disingenuous method of heightening the tension. Writing suspense is incredibly tricky. A writer has to build up tension and oftentimes distract the reader with murky tangents that only become clear in the end. It should be a roller-coaster ride. Heart stopping action should only be interrupted sparingly, otherwise it loses the impact of a ‘cliffhanger’.

That’s what happened here. The constant fake interruptions of the action didn’t increase tension for me. The suspense went from heart stopping, to frustrating, to annoying, to predictable, repetitive and utterly boring. Ever sit next to a ‘channel surfer’? Every time something piques your interest, it gets changed regardless of whether it was heading for a commercial or not? This is the literary version of that and it completely ruined the plot, suspense, characters, romance, and adventure of the story. It was the deal breaker for me making this read go from a probable B to a D.

As for the romantic angle, it’s there. I had no problem with the ‘sweet’ tilt instead of a graphic representation of affections, but ultimately I felt cheated out of the emotional connection between the lead characters that came at the cost of extra POVs that in many cases did little to enhance the story. 

Fans of Nightshade will probably appreciate this story and the apparent resolution of the series more than I did. I simply could not get past of the herky-jerky pace. Kudos to Ms. Kendig, however, for taking the pariah out of Christian fiction for me.


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