Saturday, May 10

Persecuted by Robin Parrish

After being framed for murder, popular evangelist John Luther is on the run. Even worse, he is being tracked by a mysterious assassin who will not hesitate to kill anyone who gets in the way. But what led to Luther’s current condition? He refused to support a proposed piece of legislation which could eventually lead to religious persecution across the country. Now, not only must he survive, he must also stop this bill from becoming law.

Persecuted is a fast paced novel, based on the movie of the same name which comes out later this year. I can’t speak to the accuracy in which it follows the film, as I have not seen it, but Persecuted came off as being written cinematically. At times this was great, as it helped set up the scene, and could give a better understanding of the action going on. Other times it seemed distracting as Parrish would draw our attention that was likely referenced in the screenplay, but not meant to be focused on, such as strange details given about the type of handset someone is using for the phone.

Despite the fast paced nature, I never found myself interested in the story. All of the characters are flat, never changing throughout the book. Even Luther is pretty much the same man at the end of the book as he was at the beginning (unless you count the flashbacks which detail his backstory as showing a character arc). I never really connected with any characters, and often found their actions unbelievable or over the top. A subplot involving a couple of FBI agents was mildly interesting (more so than the main story), but it was given very little time in the story.

Glancing at the cover and reading the blurb on the back of the book, I assumed the story was going involve an attempt to begin persecuting Christians in a way that is seen in countries such as Nigeria, Syria, or Somalia. Instead, the book largely focuses on a bill titled, “Faith and Fairness.” What would this bill do? It would do something with religion and fairness, public expressions of faith, the word ‘equality’ was thrown around a lot, and there were discussions on different religions working together. There also is mention of beliefs receiving equal time and of respecting other religions, though it’s not mentioned what they mean by allowing equal time. Oh yeah, and someone the government would have some level of oversight or interest in this….

Get it? Yeah, I don’t either. At best I could make some guesses as to what exactly this bill would do, but I could not find a single time that the bill was clearly explained. I get that Robin Parrish and the movie’s screenwriter/director, Daniel Lusko, probably aren’t trained in writing legislative material, but it would’ve been helpful to have a summary of the bill instead of a brief portion being referenced in the first chapter and vague references after that. They could've put it on the page of quotes that precedes the prologue! If it wasn’t for Luther constantly worrying about how bad this bill would be, I wouldn’t have thought it dangerous, just unnecessary.

There were also some disconcerting moments in the story as well. Very early on, Luther is interviewed for a news show and is asked his opinion on the bill. He responds, “Freedom is fragile and costly. It must be constantly protected and defended by work and by faith…Even by blood.” He then contemplates how the other leaders of his ministry will take those words and that they might be taken out of context. The problem is there are no clarifying remarks or thoughts. It sounded to me like Luther was saying that persecution and/or action against freedom of religion may require that blood be shed. I believe that people should take a stand against persecution, but given that the ambiguity of the bill being presented, I have a problem with such a firm statement. I really wish Parrish had examined that statement more throughout the book, especially since it’s presented in a way that make it sound important to the story, but it wasn’t.

Persecution is real and is dangerous. Unfortunately, I don’t this book understands persecution. But even if it had gotten that part down, it was still filled with dull characters and unbelievable choices. Perhaps fans of Parrish will enjoy more than I, but I’m not sure.

1/5 Stars

I received this book free from Bethany House Publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

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