This is the first structured Spec-Fiction review for this blog, so please recall the previously mentioned, thoroughly subjective Rating System, and note I will do my best to avoid spoilers. I will also refrain from padding my word count with a synopsis.
Let me confess straight-off I’m not a fan of most of what’s offered in today’s Christian Fiction market. That I not only purchased Mike’s book, but read it in it’s entirety is testimony to the substance of the novel and the character of the author. Mike Duran’s debut novel The Resurrection is a supernatural thriller centering around an ordinary woman named Ruby who raises a dead boy back to life, and the spiritual and physical consequences of that enormous incident.
Years ago, when Frank Peretti’s “Darkness” books were sweeping through the church world, I have to say I wasn’t nearly as impressed as most of my believing friends. Popular and ground-breaking for modern Christian fiction as they were, I found them cartoon-ish and contrived. Call me ‘crass’, an ‘ingrate’, a ‘philistine’, but I was underwhelmed. I’ll take something like Mark Frost’s “List of Seven” if I’m in that kind of mood.
That said, while Christian supernatural fiction has expanded tremendously on Mr. Peretti’s pioneer efforts, Mike Duran’s novel definitely builds on that foundation. Applying the M. I. C. E. quotient (Milieu, Ideas, Characters, Events) it’s my opinion The Resurrection is really a dramatization of a number of popular Christian-based ideas on spiritual warfare. Now that’s not a necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that I’m partial to sermons or personal testimonies if I’m considering a topic that serious.
Novel-wise, a number of the characters were quite engaging and well-developed. (Ruby, her husband, Vinyette…) Unfortunately others seemed little more than types constructed to dispense information in dialogue form. The neo-pagan (backslidden?) Professor Keen struck me as little more than an “evil liberal, anti-christ” trope, while Reverend Clark was about as sharp as a bowling ball, his lack of discernment and resolve going from baffling to painfully contrived. I wondered how he managed to graduate from high school, let alone finish Seminary or get selected for Pastoral office.
No doubt about it though, Mr. Duran can throw down some serious ninja skills when he wants: the Resurrection scene, the initial meeting with the Church Board, and several others were deftly written. The poignant struggles and sheer ‘ordinary-ness’ of the protagonist were refreshing, as were the over-arching themes of contested faith, spiritual dominion, and ultimate victory.
All in all, Mike Duran’s The Resurrection gets Three Stars for being a solidly written debut novel. I’d certainly recommend it to like-minded friends and family, and unequivocally label it safe for Christian family consumption. Available at Amazon in Trade paperback and Kindle HERE it’s worth your time and money. You can also follow the author at his excellent blog deCompose and join in the often insightful and spirited discussions.
I’m looking forward to his next book.