Friday, January 16, 2009

A Lever Long Enough

Title: A Lever Long Enough

Author: Amy Deardon

Genre: Adult Time Travel

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of A Lever Long Enough:

The ancient Qumran Mountains were hard and dusty, fists of rock pushing upwards to strike the face of the sky. As the helicopter trailing the two paragliders banked to the left, Benjamin watched the lead figure closely. Sara soared between two peaks, smooth, so smooth, as she dodged a cliff and spun another turn in her ascent.

Benjamin shook his head. “She flies that thing like it was a part of her.” He saw his pilot, Caleb Mendel, glance over at him.

“They’re looking good,” Mendel said. The earphone in Benjamin’s helmet crackled, the voice tinny and mechanical from the transmitter.

“I’m pleased.”

The two paragliders dangled about twenty feet below the arched cloth wings, the fanned lines passing in a spread to their hands, but Sara flew far ahead—silhouetted against the next cliff now, too close to it. Even as he watched, she executed another sharp turn and dove down, circling out of it and up again as the giant fan strapped to her back pushed the wing’s edge forward. Benjamin let out his breath.

“She sure likes to cut it fine,” Mendel said. “That gust of wind almost knocked her against the rock.”

“She’s all right,” Benjamin replied.

There were three and a half days until FlashBack

An Israeli military team travels back in time to disprove the resurrection of Christ.

The Craft: If you seek perfection in the art of writing, A Lever Long Enough is not for you. While there are many commendable spots, several small flaws and problems bury them, detracting from the reading experience, especially at the beginning.

The first thing that pops out is the number of characters introduced in rapid succession. While Ms. Deardon works very hard to keep clear who is who, it still can be daunting at first to remember all of them and their relationship to each other. Yet if the reader is willing to hang on, the major players become clear by a third of the way through the book.

Another daunting aspect is the handful of info dumps—large blocks of text intended to inform the reader. That amount of information is usually unnecessary to the story, much less necessary in such a large chunk one chunk. So such passages can easily pull the reader out of the story, if not outright bore them, and I know that my eyes tend to jump over this kind of description in books.

Beyond this, there are a couple other minor problems. Some redundancies and excessive verbiage could have been eliminated for a tighter, faster-paced story. A few character motivations, especially those related to the underlying themes and purpose of the book, could have used some tweaking toward the subtle.

That all said, this book is quite a ride. While I guessed some of the twists, I did not foresee how the story would resolve itself. At one point I was so fearful that the outcome would be less than desirable (would evil really triumph in the end), I was tempted to put the book down. That kind of unpredictability has not happened to me in a long time. But the ending, though slightly abrupt, satisfies, making the journey worth the while.

The Content: The overriding question of A Lever Long Enough is “Did Jesus Christ rise from the dead?” This single question—and the author’s wish to prove that He did indeed—so propels the story that the novel is on the verge of being agenda-driven—i.e. a story obviously written to make a point.

While I applaud Ms. Dardon’s desire to put forth plainly the truth and facts concerning Christ’s resurrection, I cannot help wondering if a slightly lighter touch might have been more effective. No one likes being preached at, much less in a medium intended to entertain first and foremost. So preaching within a story often feels like the author is hitting you over the head with a frying pan, all the while asking, “Do you get it? Do you get it?”

A Lever Long Enough doesn’t take its agenda quite to that extreme, but there are definitely moments where the story loses some of its potency because of the drive to make a point.

Summary: A Lever Long Enough is a book that could apply a heavier dependency on the old rule, “Show, don’t tell,” both in craft and content. So this book is not for the extreme critic of the resurrection, who will be quickly put off by the content.

Nonetheless, this story has some good character, unexpected plot twists, and some important content. Thus it is an enjoyable read for teens and adults and especially worthwhile for the open seeker looking for the facts behind Christ’s resurrection or the Christian wanting to reaffirm what they already believe.

Rating: Craft—2, Content—4, Overall—3.5 out of 5 stars

Order A Lever Long Enough here.

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