Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review: LOST MISSION by Athol Dickson

Agent Rachelle Gardner recently asked her blog followers if anyone would be willing to read and review one of her client's new books. Even though I usually don't read Christian fiction, I thought this might be a great opportunity to branch out.

Disclaimer: This book was totally free, and I'm either keeping it, or donating it to someone, so yeah. Take that as you will :).

Disclaimer for my Disclaimer: Considering this book was free, I didn't feel bad about potentially disliking it and took a risk on something I usually wouldn't buy.

LOST MISSION by Athol Dickson surprised me. I've been reading a lot of faced-paced YA lately, so I'm used to prose being concise and action-packed. LOST MISSION was different. It was contemplative and wasn't afraid to build the characterization and tension layer by layer.

The book is an epic tale taking place over two centuries, chock full of magical realism and cleverly interwoven storylines. It takes place in California, and follows the story of an 18th century Spanish friar on a mission to save the native people, blending together with the modern day story of Lupe, a woman on a mission from God to cross the border illegally in order to save the gringos.

The story is about the testing of faith, the subtle lures of hypocrisy, and the question of when it's okay to break the law to follow a higher calling. The story is challenging to the reader--thought provoking. It took me a while to read it because I kept dropping it down into my lap and staring off into the distance, thinking about the questions it raised about morality. "What would I do? What is right in this situation?"

I think what I appreciated the most (even though I'm a Christian), is that Dickson didn't preach. He told a real story, and let the character's lives and emotions speak for themselves. I actually started dog-earing pages toward the end of the book because the writing was so powerful. Two of my favorite quotes:

"He heaved raw prayers up from his belly like a retching dog."

"We walk upon our past; with every step we drive it deeper."

Needless to say, I loved it.

My one warning is that when I began the book, it was a very slow starter. Dickson jumps through time and from character to character building the story and the world from the ground up. It takes time to get started, and I think if I'd borrowed the book or bought it for myself, I might have put it down in those first 30 pages.

I'm glad I didn't.

I've already recommended this book to two family members, and I recommend it to you. No matter your belief system, if you like your morals challenged, or just love a richly told story, LOST MISSION will not disappoint :).

Has anyone else read this book? Thoughts? Comments?


Kate said...

Sounds good but I lack patience for too slow starts - possible christmas present though...

Lisa and Laura said...

Interesting. I've never read any Christian lit either. I'd be interested to see how this reads. Thanks for the review!