Friday, March 9, 2012

My Review of TEMPTATION by Travis Thrasher

Photo Credit: David C. Cook


The town of Solitary is gripped by something sinister, powerful, and mysterious, and Chris Buckley, who once believed he was merely being caught up in the creepy things that have been happening in Solitary, soon finds out that he's at the center of it all. Still reeling from the loss of the girl he loved, Chris begins summer school determined to leave the past school year with all of its heartbreak and disappointment behind and start over. As he falls for the beautiful new girl Lily, life begins to feel normal for the first time in a long time. But nothing in Solitary is normal. There's a reason Chris has been experiencing everything he has, and when he finds out how he's intimately connected to Solitary's history, he's forced into a situation more disturbing than any he's faced. TEMPTATION is the third book in Travis Thrasher's Solitary Tales, and it deepens the mythology behind Solitary and continues Chris Buckley's struggle to uncover Solitary's secrets.

I first discovered Travis Thrasher's books when I picked up a copy of ISOLATION in a bin of random books in a Christian bookstore a couple years ago. After reading it, I immediately ordered three other Thrasher novels, and I've been following his stories ever since. I love stories that develop a rich mythology behind them. It's what I loved about the TV shows LOST and SMALLVILLE, and it's what I love about The Solitary Tales. TEMPTATION felt like a build-up to a breathtaking finale as we discover that this story is bigger than we could have imagined.

By the third novel in the series, Chris Buckley seems very familiar, and Thrasher has developed a very distinct voice for him through the first-person POV. We experience how he feels, and it all makes sense in light of everything the town of Solitary has put him through. I love the spiritual journey Chris travels as he wrestles with his doubts about God and yet the clear existence of the supernatural in Solitary. Chris seems real, and I want him to come out victorious in the end. Jeremiah Marsh, the creepy pastor of a church that has little to do with Jesus, makes more of an appearance in TEMPTATION than the first two novels, and somehow he seems less creepy up close. Chris surprisingly lets down his guard with Marsh, and it's interesting to see that play out. Lily is a girl with a carefree spirit who helps Chris forget, but she's also an enigma that Chris can't quite understand. She's definitely a different character from Jocelyn, Poe, and Kelsey (Chris' other romantic interests in the previous books), which shows Thrasher's ability to craft unique and memorable characters. Other characters such as Staunch and Chris' mom are just as memorable and make TEMPTATION the story that it is.

The preface at the beginning, which gives us a taste of a moment near the end of the story, was brilliant. Thrasher does a great job developing presuppositions in the reader's mind near the beginning that causes them to read the story probably through a certain perspective.

When it comes to Young Adult fiction, The Twilight Saga easily comes to mind, and really for good reason because it is admittedly a compelling story. But it would be great if more readers could discover The Solitary Tales because it also is a truly gripping YA series of stories that explores the deepest issues of life. TEMPTATION only makes me wish I didn't have to wait until January 2013 for the final book HURT. Make sure to check out TEMPTATION when it comes out next month.

I received an advanced copy of this book for free for review from David C. Cook. The opinions in this review are completely my own.

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