Monday, September 13, 2010

Monster - Frank Peretti

By: Frank Peretti
Published: 2005
Audiobook Read by: Frank Peretti
My rating: Good

I am a big fan of Frank's earlier books such as Piercing the Darkness and The Oath but this one just didn't quite live up to my hopes. I felt that it lacked the spine tingling thrills that I found in his other books.

Beck Shelton as the main character was an interesting woman, although Frank somewhat over-wrote her. Her struggle against bitterness and anger with God over her terrible situation was inspiring though, and I found myself wondering how often I let disappointment in my own trials cause me to be less than thankful towards God. Frank portrays her as a woman who prefers the background and would choose being left alone over joining a crowd. However, she is forced to join into her new family and take a stand. In the end she finally realizes that her self pity isn't helping her any and she begins to trust God, who protects her and brings her out of her trouble a changed woman.

Reed Shelton starts out as that overbearing kind of husband that lords it over his wife unmindful of her feelings and desires. He demands that she participate in an activity that she is definitely not interested in and tells her it is for her own good. He quickly becomes a very different character as he tries to rescue her from the situation he unintentionally brought upon her. Frank started him out as somewhat arrogant and then drops that entirely for a completely different personality. However, he does a pretty good job describing the fear, panic, and despair that would follow a man's loss, or feared loss, of his wife. Reed ends up being a loving husband that would gladly sacrifice himself to save his wife.

The plot itself is an emotional roller coaster for the characters, and the reader, as at every turn, new hope is found just to be dashed again in the next moment. There are so many twists and turns to the plot that it is sometimes difficult to keep track of the storyline. There are actually two distinct stories here, one following the dilemma that the Shelton's find themselves in and the other an attack on evolution. Both are interesting but for the most part unconnected. It is obvious that Frank is using this book as a platform to debate the validity of the evolution theory. I fully agree with his attack on evolutionism but the story fell short of being good enough to drive it home. The evolution angle wasn't integrated well enough with the main story line to give it the attention that it deserved and in the end it actually detracted from the quality of the story.

I was looking forward to more of a supernatural thriller but this is an earthly story with supernatural influence. There are several surprises here but overall it's somewhat predictable. The plot is kind of a rehash of some other plots I've seen over the years but fresh enough to have kept my interest. There seemed to be an awful lot of killing that wasn't at the claws of the monster and I felt that Frank went a little overboard in that respect. Even thought this was a thriller, it seemed like a lot of people died, most of them without adding to the plot.

The Christian content of the book is not overwhelming but could have been integrated with the story a little better. I like the way God brings the Sheltons to their knees, at the end of all hope, to get them to realize that they need to put all their trust in Him. After He gets them to that point, you can see the way the tide turns in their favor. God uses horrendous situations to show them His power and His ability to keep them safe no matter how grim the outlook might be. The most obvious Christian angle is the Creationism vs. Evolution discussion.

I listened the audiobook version which was read by Frank Peretti himself. I was not impressed with his reading abilities on this one. His style was a little over the top with his extreme expressiveness. He over emphasizes Beck's stutter and his portrayal of her emotions are just a little too much. I'm not sure if it is his reading or the way the audiobook was produced, but quite often I was confused when the story jumped from one character to the next because there was no pause to indicate a change. The performance wasn't unbearable though, and I don't think it influenced my opinion of the book itself.

Overall, I did enjoy the book and would not discourage anyone from reading it. Frank is a great author but this just isn't one of his best works. I will most assuredly keep him on my list of favorite authors!

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