Thursday, May 3, 2012

Book Review: "Swipe" by Evan Angler

This is a post-post-apocalyptic novel (really the beginning of a series; [sigh] doesn't anyone write stand-alone sci-fi anymore?) set in a world that has been torn apart by war and now is being rebuilt by the "American Union" and its European Counterpart under the leadership of two charismatic generals. The foundation of this rebuilt world is the "mark", which everyone receives on the arm at their coming of age, and which enables one to enter into civic life (getting a job, voting, owning property, etc). Logan Langly is nearly ready to be marked himself, when he receives a message from a mysterious subversive group known as "the Dust", who want Logan to join their markless ranks. With the help of the new girl at school, the book is about Logan's attempt to figure out just what the heck is going on, anyway.

This book is... not nearly as terrible as I'd thought it would be. In fact, it was fun in its own way. Having grown up during the pinnacle of the bad eschatology craze within American Christianity (and I don't mean just Left Behind, though I do mean at least that), I was fully expecting this to be yet another poor interpretation of the book of Revelation exploded out into a poorly written political thriller. And to be fair, given that there are to be at least two books in this series, it may very well end up being that.
Yet, this book really didn't meet my expectations, and I mean that in a very good way. It follows through with its claim to be sci-fi, focusing on the technological marvels and new living conditions of the near-ish future. Everyone has a "tablet", through which information and communication are facilitated; almost all of life is automated (facilitating the saturation of the "mark" into all of society- you have to have a mark to activate everything from bank accounts to doors); and the whole world seems to be digitized. Books are a thing of the past (shudder), except where they moulder forgotten in warehouses. While some of the ideas are somewhat simple, fulls marks to the author for keeping the focus on the sci-fi and mystery aspects of the work and leaving the theological stuff in the background. (In fact, there are only a few specifically religious references throughout, and the closest thing to a Biblical statement is the nature of the mark, which according to the picture on the cover is composed of sets of three numbers which all add up to six...)
I note this not because I don't like theology- I happen to like it quite a lot. I don't, however, like it when people write books with the intention of  forcing their theology down my throat. Evan Angler does an excellent job of telling a story, and letting his theology express itself through characters and actions, not through thinly veiled credos and screeds.

So, long review short: this book is interesting and accessible. I'd highly recommend it to lower-level readers looking for an interesting (if simple) read. It's not great literature by any stretch, but it's certainly not trash either.

This book was provided free by Thomas Nelson publishers on the condition that I write a review. I was neither requested nor required to write a positive one.

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