Plot & Storyline Quality (3.5 points)
Rachelle Dekker’s first standalone novel is a bittersweet adventure with brilliant underlying themes that hides life lessons in unlikely places. While the story discusses some very gritty topics, it does so with taste and class. Alicen is prosperous by the world’s standards, but spiritually, she is suffering. On the outside, she is a wealthy socialite who doesn’t have a care int he world, but on the inside, she is very unhappy. Alicen married a man she does not love, had a daughter with him she doesn’t have time for, and lives constantly under the fear of what her mother thinks. When her young daughter Jane dies in a sudden drowning accident when Alicen is not watching her, Alicen goes over the edge and tries to take her own life. When this doesn’t work, her best friend from childhood invites her to come stay in their hometown and consider checking herself into a mental health program. Alicen refuses at first, but when she begins seeing Jane and other children that no one else can see, having severe emotional breakdowns, and becoming so lost in her own mind that she loses track of her whereabouts, she reluctantly agrees out of fear. (spoiler) Unfortunately, the mental facility is not entirely reputable, and the path to healing is not as simple as Alicen may think. She will find that she must face her deepest fears and darkest moments to experience the healing light of God’s love. To find out what happens to Alicen, read the book!:) On the whole this storyline is very well constructed – from the intricate plot details to the excellent flashbacks Alicen experiences, Dekker spares no expense when it comes to quality over quantity. Her extremely realistic portrayal of strained and or unhealthy relationships across generations adds depth and relatability to the story, and the time she spent on giving each character a unique personality makes the novel very meaningful. I could continue to praise the novel’s strengths, but it would be best for you to read it yourself. In comparison, the weaknesses here are very minor. First, Victoria (the antagonist) is somewhat unrelatable until her backstory is explained, so Dekker probably needed to give us a few more hints about her past earlier on in the novel. Lastly, some of the fantastical elements are hard to believe, (spoiler) but thankfully these are balanced out by the ending, which depicts Alicen as not being able to enter an alternate reality after being healed. In summary, this is an excellent Christian thriller that I would recommend to a non-Christian – and that’s saying a lot.
Character Development (3.5 points)
In contrast, Alicen is a nearly perfect protagonist because she has realistic perceptions of herself, others, and the world, and her past experiences are inseparably intertwined with her present. Additionally, it is highly realistic that Alicen must face her past in order to move on with her life. Louise is an excellent minor character who has a clear role in the story that goes beyond being simply a best friend to Alicen. It is clearly established that she is someone God uses to help Alicen through her life storm. Furthermore, Alicen’s grandmother is a excellent minor character. Even though she is only in the flashbacks, her personality and role in the story are clearly defined as important by the author. In comparison, although the antagonist is not perfect, her character is rounded out with an unfortunately realistic backstory. It is my opinion that there could have been a greater emphasis on Victoria than her uncle, for her character has a rather hasty development and conclusion. In spite of this, character development is Dekker’s strongest suit. Therefore, she earns just shy of a perfect score in this section as well.
Creativity & Originality (1.5 points)
Finally, Dekker earns a full point in originality for writing an excellent psychological thriller that stands apart from it’s genre and communicates a unique Christian message. Moreover, she earns a half an x-factor point for her excellent characters and movie-worthy storyline. As such, we here at BOR think that this novel would make an excellent Christian series as it is. Some of the gritty factors, like Victoria’s past, would need to be subtle on screen, but it should be included in the film. Additionally, the screenwriter would need to be experienced with creating excellent flashback scenes, as this is vital to the plot continuity and depth. This would be a great project for a filmmaker who has made a few things before and is looking for something that will get them on the map.
Wish List Rating: 8.5 out of 10 points