Wednesday, June 25, 2008

CSFF Tour: Vanished

Title: Vanished

Series: Christian Chiller Book One

Author: Kathryn Mackel

Genre: Adult Supernatural Suspense

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Vanished:

The letter arrived at the police substation special delivery, signature required.

Jason Logan couldn’t bear to open it, couldn’t bear to see black lines forming letters and letters resolving into words that would destroy his life.

Subject 58RS is negative for paternity.

Five years of pretending would be for nothing once he opened the letter and let the truth out. Back then, he did the research and discovered the combination of genes that would allow a blue-eyed blonde to be born to a sable-haired woman and a part Korean, part who-knows-what guy.

Highly improbable. A million-to-one shot. But statistically possible.

Within hours of Kimmie’s birth, Logan had refused to entertain any other possibility. For in truth, wasn’t the heart far more than muscle and blood, and parenthood more than the sum—or the discrepancy—of one’s DNA?

He and Hilary had named the baby Kim Li after his biological mother, a woman he knew only as a scrawl on his adoption papers. It never mattered that Kimmie didn’t have his tawny skin or sturdy build. Logan carried her on his shoulders, kissed away her boo-boos, and chased away the monsters under her bed.

Now the monster under his own bed had reared its evil head.

When a bomb explodes, a police sergeant and a nurse practitioner must ward off a terrorist, chaos, and fear sparked by the delay of outside help.

The Writing: Vanished combines solid writing (no obvious flaws) with a winding plot full of small twists both expected and unexpected.

But the strength of this book lies in its premise—a sort of urban Lost. For reasons not understood by anyone, a bomb triggers a strange mist around the edges of this mixed community, and book one covers the first few hours as the city tried to regroup.

Unfortunately, despite the intriguing premise, getting into the story was difficult for me. I simply failed to connect with characters and therefore to be hooked to the story. It’s not that the characters weren’t well-developed. They were. Motivations, flaws, virtues, dreams, quirks—it all was there.

So why then didn’t I connect? Part, I’m sure, is me. These characters are in a different place in life than me, and so their struggles didn’t pull me in, made me say, “I understand. I ache with you and want you to survive, overcome, succeed.” But in the hands of a different reader, the story may very well hook him or her to the end and beyond.

The other reason I had a problem with connecting might be the disconnect of stakes. I’m not sure completely how to explain that, but the external and internal didn’t seem to fuel each other. While each character has something they want, the external circumstances don’t affect it—that is, put it at stake. A bomb going off doesn’t fulfill Kaya’s longing to have back the clinic, nor does it threaten to permanently separate Logan from his daughter. The outside events neither hinder nor help the attaining of the goal.

Or so it seemed to me.

The Story: Vanished spotlights choices. Little choices that seem insignificant at the moment they’re made. Big choice that might affect very little. Choices that accumulate over time.

As for areas of concern, there is some violence (deaths, explosions, gun-shooting, resulting corpses), but the blood is kept to a minimal over all, making the story accessible to adults and teens alike.

Summary: I had a difficulty getting into the story and caring about what happened to the characters. But it’s likely other will find Vanished fast-paced and heart-pounding. Are you one? Maybe, maybe not. Give it a try, and if you like it, great! Tell all your friends about it. If not, pass the book along to someone whom you think will.

Rating: 3.4 out of 5 stars


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Great review, Chawna. I knew I could count on you to have a fresh take on the story. Excellent.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the honest review, C.

When I'm done with the novel, I plan to post one. Not sure if I'll like it more or less than you. We shall see. :)

Mir of Mirathon blog