In this sequel to The First Principle, Marissa Shrock writes one of the best Christian speculative novels I’ve read in a long time.
Shrock keeps us right with her heroine, Vivica Wilkins, from page one to the climax. We are with Vivica as she enters a new world of being a member of the rebellion. These are a group of fighters dedicated to restoring freedom, especially religious freedom, to a world of dictatorial powers seeking to dominate all of Earth.
Christians are persecuted, made into slaves, or executed for their beliefs. Vivica is a reluctant hero as she seeks her place in this society of warriors in a world seeking to exterminate them. She has to learn who to trust while at the same time demonstrating her own trustworthiness.
Shrock has filled her story with intricate twists and turns, with betrayals that may not be betrayals, with loyalty that is not at all loyal. Vivica must weave her way through relationships with people she cannot be sure about while she’s also learning about herself and her new identity as a Christian.
A major strength of this novel is Shrock’s ability to have her characters express their faith in ways that are natural and believable. None of it feels forced or contrived. There is no sense the author shoehorned faith just to get into the story. Never does she stop the story to preach at the reader.
Another strength is well-developed characters. Even minor characters are presented with depth and subtle agendas and quirks.
This all serves to keep the tension and suspense high throughout the novel.
Along the way, Vivica reunites with her father. But is he all he seems to be? Why did he abandon her? Her mother is a politician seeking to change the system from within. Or is she? Her arrest propels Vivica deeper into the maelstrom of the rebellion. Her boyfriend, the father of the baby she gave up for adoption, also sends her confusing messages.
Vivica must sort all this out even as she infiltrates a secret project and tries to sabotage it. But betrayals assault her here as well until we reach the climax which I will not share because of spoiler alerts.
Read the book to find out. It is well worth the investment of your time.
I give this outstanding effort 4.5 stars.
I don’t think it’s necessary to read the first book before this one. Shrock does an excellent job of entwining material from the first novel into this one so the reader doesn’t feel lost or confused. But read the first novel anyway because it is an equally good story.
I was given a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.