After I finished my last manuscript I put it on a flash drive and let it simmer for three weeks. Maybe I should say I let myself ‘simmer’ for a period of time because after I’m done writing the first draft of a story I’m mentally exhausted. During the writing break I take a very low cost vacation:
I read for pleasure
It was during one of these breaks that I agreed to read an advanced reading copy (ARC) of a novel listed by an author blog I follow. I love to read and agree to do reviews if the novel is in a genre I enjoy. This was the first time I read a suspense thriller with Christian themes. I like suspense and appreciate fiction without gratuitous sex, gore, and excessive profanity. So when author Nikki Arana announced that an ARC for her novel, The Next Target, was available to her blog followers, I requested a copy.
Here is my review*:
Award winning author, Nikki Arana, shows a depth of knowledge about radical Islam, the clash of Muslim culture in American communities, and the risk to Christian outreach workers in this fiction novel, The Next Target.
The backdrop of an ‘honor’ killing of a young Muslim woman begins an engrossing chain of events that takes the reader into another culture, religion, and perspective that is both horrifying and illuminating. Austria Donatelli is a young and recently widowed ESL teacher who runs a Career Center to help immigrants find jobs and learn English. She also ministers to those who want to know about Christianity. The victim of the honor killing was a young woman whose conversion was the cause of her death. This places Austria and those dear to her in the crosshairs of radical Islamists.
Austria is the main character but there are several viewpoint characters with their own story arc, which keeps the reader in the head of each character’s motivations and allows us to see the different and often incompatible perspectives on Islam, Muslim culture, American society and Christianity. The deceit and conflict that surround Austria, the Career Center, her family, and the Muslim community test their resolve, their character, and their faith.
This fast paced suspense story grabs the reader and takes them through the twist and turns of a race between Austria and another convert, an undercover FBI agent, and a terrorist cell intent on killing Austria and initiating an attack on America. These cross-purposes quickly spiral into one of self-doubt and self-preservation. Can Austria and the ones who love her withstand this challenge? Can she continue her work or will she die trying, as others have, including her husband? No character remains the same by the end of this novel.
Readers will find themselves turning the pages as fast as they can because of the quick pace, action, and suspense. The storyline and characters will keep readers captivated until the end because we come to care about the characters and their outcomes.
Nikki Arana’s respectful and non-judgmental treatment of other cultures comes through in her writing, which makes for a quality story. She shows an accuracy of details that is evident of a person who has intimate knowledge of Muslim communities in America, their culture, language, and the challenges of Christian outreach. This novel debuts in June 2012 and you will want to pick up a copy of what is sure to become another best-seller.
Does this sound like a book you’d enjoy? Are there any other Christian suspense/thriller novels you can recommend?
If you’re a writer, what do you do to relax after writing a piece?
*Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review.