Now, I like some of Frank’s work. This Present Darkness was the first properly Christian novel I (and probably many others) read, and all the business with angels and demons being characters as real as the humans – in a proper novel for grown-ups – seemed a bit, well, unusual at the time.
I didn’t so much like The Oath, which seemed a bit of a Stephen King wannabe to me. That could be because all I know about smalltown America I learnt from Stephen King novels, but still, I couldn’t help making the comparison. And with Monster, we find Peretti back in Stephen King Lite mode. That doesn’t make it a bad novel, but I did get the feeling that the Christian characters were there for the Peretti market rather than because the story required them.
There was an exception to this, and that has to do with the evils of genetic engineering, and how this suggests that the creationist in the story was right, and evolution cannot possibly happen without going horribly wrong. This appears to be a major theme of the story, which is fair enough, but it does sort of suggest that ‘Creationism’ is a core belief of all Christians – even the science professors – which is hardly representative.
And what is with the maps? At the end of every chapter, a map of the setting is updated for the attention-impared. I paid attention, and there was at least one occasion where the map just did not agree with the words. I ignored them from then on, in case I got thoroughly confused.
Maps aside though, Monster is readable enough, but not what I would consider classic Peretti.