Book Review: Ted Dekker/Erin Healy Kiss

I must admit that I signed on to review Ted Dekker and Erin Healy's novel Kiss simply because I wanted a new novel to tackle, and didn't want to buy one. So, I figured I'd take a free one. Now, some of this will get trimmed in an actual review of this book, but Christian fiction takes a bad rap. People tend to mock Christian fiction books because the characters seem cookie cutter, the plots formulaic, and the spiritual context too blatant. To those who mock Christian-written fiction for these things, I say: read some Clive Cussler. Any one of his books. They have nothing to do with anything Christian, and, based on general conclusion jumping, Cussler has no desire to communicate anything Christian. But his characters are cookie-cutter, the plots formulaic, and the worldly lifestyle is entirely blatant. As is the case with much 'mainstream' fiction. I think that we are too often expecting every author of fiction to turn out world-changing novels. You know what? I like a good world-changing novel every now and then. Other times, I like nice, mid-level entertainment. Just like not every TV show I watch is a moving drama or deeply educational, not every book has to be deeply moving. Nice, semi-predictable plot, characters who are as bland as most people I know, makes for a nice book to read, pass on, or shelve and read again later. That type of book is ok.

Then you have Dekker and Healy's book Kiss. This is not a book with a predictable plot. Did I suspect some of the plot twists before they were revealed? Yes, but suspicion makes me turn pages until I know. That's what Kiss did for me. I kept turning pages, and trying to figure out what was coming next. I will say that this collaboration has done well to provide some romance, some action, and plenty of suspense. It's not a book that will keep you up at night worried, but it will get you to delay bedtime by 15 minutes, oh, maybe 30, to finish, well just one more chapter.

Characters? Fairly well-written. Certain characters rely more on the reader to figure them out then is revealed. The Senator is one of these. Not a lot of his character is revealed, at least through the first 3/4 of the book, allowing the reader to fill in the blanks based on what we know of Senators. It's a good way for us to dislike him. Our own experience with politicians is more disturbing than anyone could write. The romantic elements are well interwoven, with people not quite always in love with who they should be, very much like reality. Also, the closing of the book leaves enough unsaid that you realize the story continues, but it is not a sequel set-up. Which is good, because it's generally annoying when a book does that (movies too). Finish up the story, don't assume I'll buy another of your books.

One thing that may draw Kiss some criticism is the faith component. Certain of the characters are certainly driven to say and do things because of a faith in God. However, nobody preaches, and I wouldn't call the book a slam-dunk of evangelism. What is it? It's a good, suspenseful read that I enjoyed, didn't require a language filter, and that I would be comfortable with on my shelf. When my kids are ready for suspense novels, I'll gladly hand this one over. At the same time, there should be no concern with stocking this one in a public library, mixed in with other fiction offerings, or even allowing it as a school reading option.

I only put stars on these reviews when I paste them into bookseller websites, and am thinking about automatically giving everything 1-star, since those are usually the reviews I read. You can often learn a lot more from the negative comments than the positive. So, I won't star Kiss here. I will say this: If I have some money in the book budget or an Amazon gift certificate, I'll pick up the next work that Dekker and Healy put out. It will be worth the spend and the later bedtimes...

http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/custom/top_titles/Kiss_Ted_Dekker_Erin_Healy.asp

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