No, this isn’t going to become a blog celebrating all things Robin Parrish, but I do want to highlight Offworld once again. One of the things I thought Robin did well in this story was the gradual development of faith in the characters. It wasn’t heavy handed, it wasn’t preachy — it was organic. If you came home and found everyone gone, you’d have questions, too! If events so bizarre and unexplainable were happening around you, and to you, you’d wonder where God was in all of the chaos. A couple of weeks ago, Robin commented on his facebook page that some Christians complained that the book wasn’t Christian enough, but to non-Christians it was too Christian. I think that’s a good dilemma for a writer to have — it suggests that the writer is telling the truth and it’s making people uncomfortable.
Of course, a lot of people just want to read a good story. And that’s another way that this novel succeeds. It’s a rousing good tale that keeps the reader hooked from the first page. Robin does a good job of weaving the elements of the story together so the reader learns new things along the way, but not too many new things at once. This is the kind of story that depends a lot on the author’s ability to engage the reader — if the reader can’t buy into the premise of the story, then the author has lost him. Robin never lost me, even at points where I was afraid the story might be headed off the rails a bit. But the story world held together and I rode the roller coaster to the end.
One of Robin’s strengths is that ability to tell a fast-paced, wildly imaginitive story. The flip side of that, though, is that the breakneck pace can leave a reader feeling out of breath. And sometimes the characters can be somewhat less than fully realized. I prefer character-driven stories, so if I don’t like the characters in a book, it won’t hold me, no matter how thrilling the tale. I would say that for the most part, Robin did a good job of pacing in Offworld and the characters developed as the story progressed. I was intrigued by them and wanted to know more about them. I cared about what happened to them.
So, if you’re looking for a good read that doesn’t shy away from the spiritual development of the characters, Offworld is for you. If you don’t normally read Christian fiction, give this one a try — and then find Robin’s Dominion Trilogy and read that, too. Then you’ll understand that good Christian speculative fiction is not an oxymoron.
And if you’re interested in joining the discussion about Christian speculative fiction, visit the other fine blogs listed below.
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Todd Michael Greene
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen (posting later in the week)
John W. Otte
Rachel Starr Thomson