My rating: 1 of 5 stars
This is likely to be an awkward review for more reasons than one. How many people can say they’ve read a book beginning to end and felt absolutely nothing for any of the characters within a story, down to the point that many of them you don’t even remember their names they were so unremarkable in an utterly dully story, despite its intentions? (Actually the latter point for me isn’t true, but it did feel like the characters blended together and I couldn’t feel for any of them.)
*sighs* Let me address a few things directly going into my review of “Past Darkness.” First, this has been marketed as Christian fiction, but to be honest, I think this is more inspirational fiction. The two are not one and the same. The error in classification didn’t bother me, and I really didn’t think the content was offensive at all in the content of the story with respect to the context of each situation.
Yet, my single star on this review is primarily for the fact that I had no investment in this story whatsoever. It was a forgettable read, mostly for the lifeless, meandering prose and dull characterization. There was no dimensionality in this book despite the events. You would think a young woman (Gabrielle) losing her parents in a devastating accident and disassociating herself with music while lashing out at her family in her anguish before coming to terms with the events and her faith would have more weight. Yet, this narrative suffers from a “tell not show” format. There’s an emotional disconnect with many of the scenes, and mentally – as I was combing through the prose – I saw many cases where phrases could’ve been omitted, the descriptors were overstated, and it jumped in time so far (sometimes years!) that it was difficult to rebound and gain bearings.
I can’t really say much about it. I couldn’t connect to Gabrielle – there were many times when I thought her reactions didn’t match the situation. When a horse was noted to be put down, Gabrielle’s assertion of “It’s not fair” and jerking away from the hand that touched her didn’t seem enough with the gravity of the situation. There was also the scene where her parents were killed that was so bogged down in the prose that it was hard to really feel the weight of the situation from a narrative perspective. And as for Gabrielle’s relationship with Ian – I just didn’t feel anything at all, really. I wish I could say otherwise, but there was a significant disconnect with the telling versus showing, and it never added up all that well.
I think this book probably needed much more thorough editing on the drawing board, more rounded characterization, and more vetting of the emotional weight for the subject matter. It just didn’t pull me in.
Overall score: 1/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Crossway.