Wednesday, April 15, 2015

CSFF Tour: Storm Siren Review, Part 2

Title: Storm Siren
Series: Storm Siren Trilogy #1
Author: Mary Weber
Genre: YA Fantasy

Yesterday I discussed Storm Siren and how well it was crafted, concluding the story was phenomenally written. However, that is only one half of the equation, which brings me to . . .

The Content: There are basically two types of Christian novels on the market.

The first is what many associate with “Christian fiction.” These novels have a clear gospel message, Christian characters dealing with spiritual matters, strong allegorical parallels to the spiritual, or some other predominate Christian element that pushes Christ into the center of the story’s focus.

The second is more subtle. In these novels, God often works behind the stage, and Christ is the foundation of the story, not the focus.

Neither style is wrong, nor is one better—or more Christian—than the other. They simply approach life, story, and readers from different angels.

Storm Siren seems to lean toward the latter style, at the moment. While God’s presence is acknowledged and is even integral to the climax of the story, He remains mostly in the background, possible because the main character’s notion of Him is somewhat hazy. This means the story’s style could shift in the coming books; it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

As a result, Storm Siren raises many questions while answering only a few. The characters wrestle with issues as diverse as what makes a person good or bad, free will versus predestination, the depravity of man, how you handle a gift (especially its dark side), penance, honoring others, and forgiveness of self.

Concerning other topics of common concern, there is no graphic sexual content, but several sexual innuendos and references to rape. A fair amount of swearing/cursing occurs, but it uses a fantasy vocabulary, which most find less offensive, probably because its odd wording inhibits its use in the real world. Violence is very strong, dealing not only with typical fantasy battle violence, but also with more personal violations, such as demonic possession and especially the issue of cutting.

The supernatural elements in Storm Siren also play a major, as the premise of the story indicates. However, the supernatural seems to be handled correctly. Much of the power is genetic, and much like other natural talents, it can be augmented spiritually by either God or Satan. The other supernatural elements which go beyond this are clearly shown to be either from Satan or God, with the appropriate qualities (e.g. a gift from God is uncontrollable).

Finally, these areas of concern combine with the themes to give the book a dark cast overall. It is not excessive, nor is it inappropriate given the target audience and the topics tackled. However, it may be a difficult read for those with a heightened sensitivity to darkness in fiction or with personal connections to the topics dealt with, such as the cutting.

Summary: Storm Siren is a wonderfully written book that deals with some tough issues and asks some hard questions. It is not the type of story I would recommend for anyone, and indeed, this book is not recommended for those under thirteen. However, depending on your background, level of discernment, and personal limitations, many will find this an insightful and worthwhile read.

Ratings: Craft—5, Content­—3, Overall—4.2 out of 5 stars. 

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