Friday, July 13, 2007

Dominion Trilogy, Part I

Title: Relentless

Series: Dominion Trilogy #1

Author: Robin Parrish

Genre: Adult Supernatural Suspense

Chapter 1 of Relentless:

Los Angeles, California

Collin Boyd stepped off the Metro bus on his way to work, and across the street he saw himself strolling down the sidewalk.

A stubborn but warm February rain was pouring hard across the concrete canyons of downtown. His foot had landed ankle-deep in a drainage puddle, and his half-broken umbrella wasn’t extending as it should. But the umbrella, which had rarely seen use, quickly fell out of his hands and he no longer noticed the rain. His eyes were fixed, his head turning slowly to follow the other man down the opposite side of the street.

It wasn’t until someone shouted from behind that he finally got his legs moving again.

The man he watched with rapt attention weaved his way casually through the crowd, headed in the direction of Collin’s workplace. He wasn’t a man who merely
resembled Collin. He was him. The same face, the same body, the same walk. He wore the clothes and raincoat Collin had put on that morning. He carried Collin’s briefcase.

A man unexpectedly switches bodies with another, acquiring supernatural abilities and blurring the lines of identity.

The Writing: Relentless is exactly what the title suggests—relentless. From the first sentence to the last, Mr. Parrish draws you further and further into the story until you are helplessly entangled, not that you want release. Okay, maybe some release is wanted, since breathing is rather desirable. But in short, Relentless implements a faster pace and higher tension than any other book I’ve reviewed thus far, and is probably faster and tenser than anything I’ve read this year.

And while the plot is the stronger point of this book, the characters are hardly a weak link. They aren’t perhaps the kind of characters you can’t help falling in love with, but they’re real, colorful, and three-dimensional—you could probably spot them on the street. More than that, you connect with the characters’ problems, even though on the surface it’s like nothing anyone has gone through, and you genuinely care what happens to them.

The one flaw of Relentless might be the point of view (POV). You enter the perspectives of many of the characters, who are numerous, and this can make it difficult to keep all the characters straight, although Mr. Parrish does an excellent job of helping the reader along. But the bigger concern is the head-hopping—seeing the action from one character’s POV with their thoughts about what’s going on and then switching in the next paragraph (within the same scene) to seeing everything from another character’s POV. This story is disorienting enough without trying to track whose eyes you’re seeing through.

The Story: Relentless is a story of gray areas, lacking the clear-cut good vs. evil that’s prevalent in these kinds of books. That isn’t all bad—that means there is no preachiness in this story whatsoever, and I could give this book to a non-Christian without hesitation.

However, this also makes the spiritual aspect very difficult to judge in accordance with Scripture or even according to personal boundaries. While I don’t think there is much to be concerned about as a whole, I feel slightly uneasy about the rings. In Relentless, the rings appear in coordination with the supernatural power and are implied to be evil, depending on how you interpret some of the passages. For me, using evil supernatural power for good approaches the dangerous concept of “white magic": using occult practices, power, and magic for “good” intentions.

Concerning other sensitive topics, there’s no explicit sex or swearing, although plenty of hacking and slashing. However, that last part seems necessary to the story.

Summary: Relentless strikes me a great book for guys, readable for teens up, and if I was writing this review solely based on the quality of the writing, I would recommend it highly, without reservation. However, the current blurred line between good and evil, combined with concerns over potential white magic concepts, causes me to hesitate. Therefore, I’m reserving final judgment until the 2008 release of the final book in the Dominion Trilogy, Merciless, when I might see how Mr. Parrish resolves some of these tensions. Until then, I’m recommending a cautious approach.

Rating: TBD

Still interested in Relentless? Click here to order today!

For more information concerning my standards and methods in forming a book reviews, check out my blog, "The Standard of Book Reviews."

(Book 2 reviewed here and book 3 reviewed here.)

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