After a steroid-charged Chapter One, the story slows down just a tad as we get to know the characters a bit more and as they try to figure out what is going on and where everyone has gone.
In Chapter Two to the end of the book, the Offworld story line extends over a seven-day period and is filled with enough crashes, collapsing buildings, near misses and explosions to keep most people turning one page after another. In spite of the short time frame, the story moves along at a rapid pace as the reader is taken from one disaster to another.
But the story involves more than just action. It would have been easy for the author to reveal the characters’ flaws and secrets early on, but he does not, preferring to keep the reader guessing, in some instances, clear to the end of the book. On one hand, I found this almost infuriating, but on the other hand, the mystery was intriguing.The author takes us into the minds of the characters and shows us their hurts, which (being good astronauts with phenomenal abilities to compartmentalize their emotions) they mostly try to hide from each other, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. As the reader, we get to see inside their heads, a point of view that allowed Parrish the opportunity to explore themes of strength in spite of physical disability, disappointment, grief, and uncertainty.
Published by the mostly evangelical Bethany House, I found it a bit surprising that Offworld did not contain more overt references to the Christian faith. Granted the book did not espouse views contrary to Christian faith, but I think some readers might be disappointed, thinking they have purchased a suspense novel with strong Christian themes, only to find out the book is more like what one would find in the general market.
Let me go on the record as saying that I don’t have any objections to that, but I do find it interesting in that it reflects a trend among some faith-based publishers to include more books into their book lists that are not written solely for a Christian audience.
(Side note: If the publishers are interested in changing gears a bit, maybe we could talk them into including more science fiction and fantasy in their book lists? How cool would that be! I think Offworld is definitely a step in the right direction.)
As a writer myself, the topic comes up in my circles how writers need to assume their readers are intelligent and to write accordingly. I thought Parrish accomplished this goal well, as best evidenced by his willingness to tease the reader and not spell everything out in the beginning. This definitely made the book more enjoyable for me.
Tomorrow I’ll talk a bit about a couple of issues I had with the book as well as a couple of themes running through the book.
(To see Part 1 of my review, click here.)
To see what others have to say here are links to their blogs:
Brandon Barr, Jim Black, Justin Boyer, Keanan Brand, Gina Burgess, Canadianladybug, Melissa Carswell, Valerie Comer, Karri Compton, Amy Cruson, CSFF Blog Tour, Stacey Dale, D. G. D. Davidson, Jeff Draper, April Erwin, Karina Fabian, Linda Gilmore, Beth Goddard, Todd Michael Greene, Katie Hart, Ryan Heart, Becky Jesse, Cris Jesse, Jason Joyner, Julie, Carol Keen, Krystine Kercher, Dawn King, Melissa Meeks, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Mirtika, Eve Nielsen (posting later in the week), Nissa, John W. Otte, Lyn Perry, Steve Rice, Chawna Schroeder, James Somers, Speculative Faith, Stephanie, Rachel Starr Thomson, Steve Trower, Fred Warren, Elizabeth Williams