Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
UPDATE: After a consultation with our writing team, it was determined that the previous review was too harsh and overlooked some of the superior qualities of this novel. Thus, two points have been added to the overall rating.😃
Plot & Storyline Quality (3 points)
Rachelle Dekker’s latest thriller, Nine, is a well-crafted and engaging novel that gets off to a rocky start. Zoe is living an average life working as a waitress and living in a hotel room. She has finally gotten a handle on managing the dark forests of her childhood memories, and is generally content to drift through each day. One rainy day, a terrified red-headed girl with an innocent expression bursts into the diner. She says her name is Lucy and claims she can’t remember anything. Zoe is drawn to Lucy’s vulnerability and decides to help her. Little does Zoe know that the price tag for this decision could be her life. Tom Seeley is a hardened FBI agent who threw himself into his work after losing his wife. Seeley found himself deeply involved in The Grantham Project, a top-secret government operation – based out of a campus named Xerox – whose goal is to genetically engineer biological weapons to defend the U.S. on special assignments. When the powers that be begin to do things that go against the few morals Seeley has left, he finds himself torn between obeying orders and exposing criminal activity. Zoe, Lucy, and Seeley find themselves thrown together in an on-again-off-again trio who are each forced to decide between who they are and who they have been trained to be. The strongest point of the plot and storyline is the theme I just mentioned. Deciding to be who God made you to be, no matter the cost, is a vitally important message in today’s world. Dekker beautifully weaves this theme throughout her novel and makes it the defining question amid the madness. This gives her story both depth and a purpose. Another strong point in the plot and storyline are the extremely well-crafted psychological elements. These are mainly showcased in Lucy’s deep and illustrative flashbacks that unfold throughout the middle of the novel. In comparison, this area of Nine also contains weaknesses. There are a few typical thriller elements, like a crazy lady living in a bunker, and the ending of the story is somewhat choppy. On the whole, this area of the novel rounds out with an above average score that could have been perfect if the errors listed above did not exist.
Character Development (4 points)
In comparison, the strongest aspect of the overall novel is Dekker’s character development. Lucy is a very well-crafted character with a fully developed set of emotional, behavioral, social, and spiritual characteristics. Her choices are relatable and, as previously mentioned, the flashbacks Dekker uses with her character add a lot of depth. Zoe is a believable main character who changes in realistic ways as time goes forward. Seeley is a mixed bag. His identity towards the beginning is unclear, but as it unfolds he becomes a strong character. Moreover, the back and forth shift between third and first person in the novel’s dialogue is very creative and illustrates the book’s key themes very well. Additionally, Olivia and other minor characters have clear roles in the story and are well-developed. The antagonist is actually quite good and avoids the typical thriller villian pitfalls. On the whole, a job well done, which earns Dekker a perfect score in this area.
Creativity & Originality (2 points)
Finally, Dekker receives a full point in creativity for her excellent dialogue, and a full x-factor point in originality for her superbly crafted psychological elements – i.e. flashbacks, etc. This being so, we highly recommend that the content in this novel be made into a Christian TV series. By doing this, the screenwriter would have room to do an in-depth exploration of Seeley and Zoe’s pasts, and therefore make their characters as strong as Lucy’s. They would need to tone down the violent torture sequences in the latter half of the story and edit out some of the characters’ brushes with death, but it can be done. To sum up, this novel is a great read for mature audiences and would make a great Christian series in the right hands.
Wish List Rating: 9 out of 10 points