From Sky to Sky by Amanda G. Stevens (BTSNBM)

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Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Plot & Storyline Quality (1 point)

Stevens’ sequel to No Less Days makes a good attempt at humanizing brokenness and mental health disorders, but falls short when it comes to continuity and a well-constructed plot and storyline. While the novel contains many spiritual truths and fairly good characters, it is hard to understand what the point of this tale is – more on this later. Zac Wilson is having a hard time dealing with the execution he and his fellow longevites were forced to carry out on the previous novel’s antagonist, Colm. The incident has resurfaced all his old trauma flashbacks and is threatening to send him over the edge. However, he is trying his best to keep his inner turmoil buried away so he will not be a bother to his friends. When Zac and his friend David come across two other longevites who need their help, Finn and Cady, they decide to do the honorable thing even though they are suspicious of Finn. When their new relationship with Cady and Finn leads to news of what seems to be a terrible crime, they are thrown headlong into an investigation of the same. Little do they know that this case will not be easy to solve, and that the people they will meet along the way carry information that affects longevites everywhere. To find out what happens, read the book! Or don’t, your choice – this one is an entirely optional read. As I said earlier, the weakest areas of this novel are it’s plot and storyline. The plot limps along on Zac’s panic attacks and references to the previous novel, and unfortunately offers little else besides a few moments of interesting dialogue. In comparison, the storyline follows a lot of rabbit trails that coincide in a choppy conclusion which is both dissapointing and confusing for the reader. (spoiler) Furthermore, the only way to make the longevite concept believable would be to create a plausible explanation for how these characters are still alive, which has not happened thus far. In contrast, the only strength in this area of the novel is Zac’s spiritual journey, but this meaningful sub-plot is buried under a lot of sensationalism when it should have been the driving force behind the story. In summary, this novel had the potential to be better than it is, but sadly it is not.

Character Development (1.5 points)

Comparatively, the characters in From Sky to Sky are an improvement over the plot and storyline. Zac is a somewhat relatable character who makes realistic choices throughout the story, but his development and that of the other characters are continually hampered by the author’s seemingly morbid fixation on Colm’s execution. David is also a good character who displays a great relationship with God and a genuine care and concern for other people, however, his character offers the reader no more than it did in the previous novel. Finn and Cady are good additions to the story, as is Rachel, but all three of these minor characters are left unfinished. The main strength here is the atypical antagonist who has a realistic motive and relatable personal weaknesses, but we are not introduced to her until the story is nearly over. In short, the character development is this novel is sadly lacking as well.

Creativity & Originality (.5 point)

Finally, Stevens earns earns a half point in originality for her dialogue between Zac and Jesus. This brief bright spot is the strongest point of the novel, but unfortunately it is too little, too late. Needless to say, we do not recommend that anyone make this novel into a Christian film or series. Christian movie-makers should look to the novels rated seven points and above on this column for ample content that would make a great screenplay. Books like these exemplify the desparate need for Christian authors to let Jesus dictate their writing process. If God does not want you to write a book, please don’t write it. The world does not need more sensation, it needs what is real and true and eternal.

Wish List Rating: 3 out of 10 points

No Less Days by Amanda Stevens

Plot & Storyline Quality (2 points)

Amanda G. Stevens latest book, No Less Days, is both riveting and dissapointing. The novel has much untapped potential, and could have been so much better than it is. It feels like the author stopped short of all she has to offer. No Less Days tells the story of David Galloway – a 167 year old man who lost his ability to die in his thirties. Oh, he has had more than one opportunity, but each injury – no matter how serious – remedies itself after a brief amount of time. David leads a simple life. He owns and operates a bookstore in a small, isolated town whose residents live mostly in the past. David hates fire, loves books and his pet turtle, and questions many facets of his existence. He has only one true friend – his sole employee Tiana – and keeps mostly to himself. David follows nearly the same routine every day, and asks God why he is still alive every night. Then…everything changes. During a typical day at work Tiana tells David about a viral video she just saw in which a popular celeb named Zachary Wilson attempted to walk a tightrope at a great height and fell to his death – only to appear alive soon after. David doesn’t believe it at first, but curiosity soon probes him to examine the facts for himself. He too watches the video, and cannot believe his eyes. In a flash of comprehension he dares to ask the question: “Are there others like me?” After a brief inner battle with himself, he travels by car to Nevada in hopes of discovering whether the man is a fraud or genuine. He discovers that the latter is true, and he and Zachary become fast friends. Zachary introduces David to three other ‘longevites’, and the group quickly forms a bond. Little does David know that these new friendships will lead to danger, adventure, and perhaps the hardest decision of his life. Overall, the plot is engaging because it holds the attention from cover to cover. However, there are some continuity errors. At times the plot meanders in multiple directions without a clear objective, and some of the reasoning behind the characters’ longevity feels forced and simplistic. (spoiler) For instance, the only reason these five people are still alive is because they all had a fatal injury/health condition in the same era and were treated by the same doctor who discovered a magical healing serum in a body of water. In contrast, David’s role in the story begins and ends well because the beginning is enticing and the conclusion open-ended. In spite of this, it would seem that Stevens tried to include too many sub-plots that tend to clash with David’s purpose at times throughout the story. However, the moral questions asked in this novel are very creative, and it has much potential as a Christian film. These facts round out to an average score for Stevens in this section.

Character Development (2 points)

David is the best character in the story because he has a steady but powerful character arc that drives the plot. Tiana is also an above average character because she is a non-typical female lead and adds humor and life to a slow-to-develop story. Zachary is a good start, but not quite there. He has a developed personality and his character is consistent, but left unfinished. The other longevites drop abruptly into the story and are also left unfinished. These facts earn Stevens an average score in this section. We here at BOR believe that these character and plot errors could have been remedied through breaking up the vast amount of plot content into a series. For example, this could be a three to five book series that contains a book for each longevite. In this way, the reader would come full circle in knowing each of the characters equally, and the publisher would likely see greater revenue as a result. This idea may still be in the cards for this author, but if it is not, this book could be made into a TV series that applied the suggestions listed above.

Creativity & Originality (1 point)

Finally, Stevens earns half a point in creativity and half a point in originality for crafting a book that contains fresh plot ideas and a well-constructed conclusion. This author’s strength is that she is not afraid to ask and answer the hard questions in life. Additionally, Stevens is obviously committed to changing the world of Christian fiction by daring to be different. I commend this author for her big ideas, and believe that she shows much promise for the future – with a little guidance, she could create an entirely new genre. This is why we believe that a Christian filmmaker should work with Stevens to bring this novel to the big screen in the form of a TV series that has a season or several episodes for each character. To conclude, well done Ms. Stevens, I believe that you are capable of more than you think.:)

Wish List Rating: 5 out of 10 points