Saturday, February 17, 2007

Relentless--Does it live up to its name?

I knew Robin Parrish was an author to watch for quite some time. His serialized novels, which have appeared on his hip, artistic website Infuze Magazine displayed excellent fiction writing and a flair for sci-fi. So I'm thrilled to say I finally got my grubby hands on a copy of his debut novel from Bethany House Publishers.

Colin Boyd lives a solitary existence. Boring job, normal clothing. All of this changes in an instant when Colin sees himself walking across the street. Only when he passes by a shop window does he notice his outward features have changed dramatically. It’s like he has switched bodies with someone else, but his thoughts are still his own. The novel explores the “why” of this Shift.

His new persona is Grant Borrows, a man with unique talents and abilities that seem all too natural after a while. We find later that many others have experienced the same Shift Grant has. Some have secluded themselves from the world to find out the meaning of it all. They bring Grant into their confidence, thinking he is the answer to some sort of ancient prophecy. Regardless, Grant has to find out who he really is. Is he destined to be more than a mediocre man? He is no longer who he thinks he is, but is he who others think he is?

Yes, the plot turned and hid and revealed and mystified more times than I could count. Yes, I became engrossed in Colin/Grant's search for answers to life's meaning. But was it relentless? Hmm. Well, the fight/bomb/fleeing scenes were, without doubt. Still, some things niggled at me and took me out of that "fictive bubble" or "suspension of disbelief" that the reader is supposed to stay in. I kept thinking, “This part is just like Lord of the Rings/Alias and the Rimbaldi mystery/X-Men, etc.” I often couldn’t focus on the story because sections of it sounded so much like something else.

Another detractor for me: Parrish used italics to set off words he wanted emphasized, usually in dialogue. Since the rule in writing is to only use italics for thought, I was distracted many, many times by the proliferation of italics in the text. It’s fine to break a rule, but I feel it was over-broken, if that makes any sense.

If I had to compare Relentless to other works, I’d have to say it’s more like Koontz than Dekker. But really, Parrish has his own style. I’ve heard people compare him to Ingermanson, but I don’t see that at all. However, I don’t read much sci-fi, so perhaps I’m not the best one to comment.

All in all, I enjoyed the book and felt it was well-written. The book’s end definitely set the stage for something else, namely the second in the Dominion series—Fearless—due out July of this year. I look forward to the continuation of this saga.

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