Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Witnesses by Stephanie Black

SPOILER ALERT! If you have not read The Believer, and would like to, don’t read this blurb. It contains spoilers for Believer).

Welcome to New America, where patriots are traitors and religion is a crime. After government agent Daniel Lansbury fakes the executions of three believers on national television, he and the fugitives Alisa Kent, Ian Roshek, and Ian's sister, Jill face the perilous task of outwitting President Amanda Ryce and her power-hungry Council long enough to escape to freedom. While a government reformer is on their side, rigorous new security measures thwart any chance of aid. And Daniel's estranged father, Marcus, an underground terrorist leader, is hatching plans to sabotage the breakable trust between Daniel and Ian and put himself in power at the head of the nation. As faith and loyalties come under fire, the fugitives struggle to stop Marcus and his zealous terrorists and bring to light the wrongs committed against the citizens of this fragile, fledgling nation.

I told Stephanie a long time ago that I would do a review of this book.  In fact, she sent me a book so I could do a review.  I got it, read it and prepared to do a review and then life got in my way.  I am so sorry, Stephanie, that it has taken me so long to put this up.

I read The Believer quit a few years ago so I needed to try and remember what happened in that book before I read this one, but I didn't have time in my busy back to school/daughter has soccer/after school counselor meetings to re read.  I didn't have to worry, Stephanie did enough catch up that I could remember what happened.  But the catch up she did was not a big info dump like sequels so often contain.  The catch up was done in conversations between characters or a short memory that a character would have.  And I mean short, not long drawn out info dumps, just enough to help her readers remember.  And I love that, because if I am going to get an info dump I just as well go get the other book out and reread it.

What I liked about The Witnesses- even though this book is about the punishment for someone believing in a religion that has been banned that religion is not rammed down the reader's throat so if one is not of that religion it would be easy to insert whatever belief the reader has into the story. 

When I read The Believer I thought living in an America that banned religious beliefs was in the far, far distant future.  Things and times have changed and while reading The Witnesses I can see the possibility of this book becoming a reality in a closer future than I imagined and that worries me.  Most of the books I read by Stephanie Black are books that I won't read at night or with my back to a window, The Believer was not one of those but The Witnesses had those moments that I thought about going somewhere with more light as I read. 

There is a scene in a family's mountain home. During this scene I thought I had figured out something, a major plot line and how it would all play out.  But in true Stephanie Black form, I was wrong and things were not what I thought. And then, and then it all changes again.  And then once again.  And then it isn't what I thought. Again. And people aren't who I thought they were.  And that is what I love about reading books by Stephanie Black, she is so good, so expert at letting her readers think she is leading you down one path when in reality you are headed somewhere else entirely and it isn't until you reach your destination that you can see the how the twists and turns got you there.  And even if you do figure it out before you get there, the ride is amazing.  But while she is leading you down the path, it is never so confusing that you give up caring or trying.  That is why she is so good. You care and you are invested in what you are reading and you want to keep following her down the path.  And when the book ends you are sad because you want it to continue forever.


I also read Shadowed a week after I read the Witnesses.

Gifted musician Catherine Clayton was born into a life of wealth and privilege. Following the death of her father, she makes a bold decision she hopes would make him proud: she’s using the family money to establish a music school and offer free lessons to the underprivileged. A providential suggestion from an old college friend leads Catherine to select Riley, New York, as the perfect location for her new school. Hit hard by the economic downturn, Riley personifies economic hardship: peeling paint, overgrown landscapes, and damaged buildings. But the damage runs much deeper than Catherine first realizes.

Two years ago, Riley was rocked by weeks of vandalism, followed by the brutal murder of beautiful elementary school secretary Olivia Perry. Everyone in town loved Olivia—but especially the two men with whom she was caught in a love triangle. Though the murder remains unsolved, Catherine receives ominous warnings that one of these men, Adam Becket, is responsible for the girl’s death. Unimpressed by the lack of evidence against him, Catherine is drawn to the shy but endearing Adam. Could he really have been involved in Olivia’s murder?

Just as Catherine is settling in and getting to know Adam, a vandal strikes again, and it’s eerily reminiscent of the events surrounding Olivia’s murder. The death threats splashed on the walls prove that the killer is back—and this time, it’s Catherine who wonders if she’s come to the wrong place at the wrong time.

To read a sample of Shadowed on Amazon.com, click here.

To purchase from Deseret Book, click here

This is one of the don't read at night or with your back to the window books. And I did figure this one out early on.  Kidding!  I only thought I did and there was a scene that helped further my believing that I had figured it out, but I was wrong.  And our path twisted around and surprise! not what you thought.

I love it.


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