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April 15, 2005

Book Review: The Jordon Tracks by Steven Wise

The following is a review done on behalf of Mind & Media. The copy of the book I reviewed was donated by the publisher, through Mind & Media for the purpose of this review.

I struggled with how to do this review and was torn between conflicting desires. As a writer myself I want people to give my stuff the benefit of the doubt and not be overly harsh. But as an avid reader I know how important an honest review can be in determining how best to use that oh-so-precious and increasingly rare time one allows for reading. Hopefully I will have struck the right balance.

While it's set in rural Missouri of the 1960's, very little of that era peeks through Steven Wise's fifth novel, The Jordan Tracks, other than the fact that the Vietnam War is still going on. But then very little of quite a bit of what a novel should have peeks through. The story begins with an overly dramatic introduction, that is left unexplained until well into the novel, and even then seems anti-climactic given its initial intensity.

The essence of the novel focuses on the worries of Ernie and Christa Bates as their son Aaron serves in Vietnam. Christa is a Christian as is Aaron, but Ernie isn't. The dynamics of facing the trauma of a loved one in constant danger mixed with the conflicting ways Christians and non-Christians handle such worries, makes for a good setting. And ultimately the novel provides an adequate vehicle for those elements.

The plot, however, is fairly weak with a barely noticable climax. The story becomes pedestrian within the first chapter and stays that way for most of the book, picking up only occasionally.

The character developement was seriously lacking, most never rising beyond a two-dimensional feel. Even the main characters never really came alive. It was a bit annoying that all of the characters, even those from other states, seemed to speak with the same, presumably Missourian, drawl. Obviously that contributed to the dreariness of the writing.

I've read much more tedious writing before (some of Jane Austen's work comes to mind) but generally there is a pay off in the atmosphere or plot developement. Not so with this one. Mind you, it was never tedious to the point of making me want to put down the book, but if you're used to stuff that grabs you hard at the beginning and won't let you go -- this won't be one of them.

Of course the big question for me always is: When I closed the book at the end of that last chapter -- did I feel the time spent was worth it?

That's a somewhat subjective question, depending on how much you value your time, but in the end, I did enjoy the story, and there were several really good spots that tweaked my emotions. I considered it a nice, pleasurable use of my time, in spite of the frustration that it could have been better.

Posted by Danny Carlton at April 15, 2005 05:06 AM

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» The Jordan Tracks: Book Review from Questions and Answers
*disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publishers through Mind and Media in exchange for my services as a reviewer. The Jordan Tracks By Steven W. Wise I have a confession to make. Actually, I [Read More]

Tracked on May 23, 2005 03:09 PM

» BOOK REVIEW - "The Jordan Tracks" by Stephen Wise from The Sheep's Crib
Genre should have everything to do with the review of another's work. In the case of The Jordan Tracks it is doubly important, since the genre is Christian fiction with an underlying evangelistic message. I gathered from that message that Wise was mo... [Read More]

Tracked on June 23, 2005 08:57 PM

Comments

This sounds like an interesting book. I wanted to invite you to our live chat tonight where we will discuss our ideas on how to fight the ACLU. It starts at 8 p.m. EST and last till whenever. Hope you can make it! And thanks for the support!

http://www.stoptheaclu.blogspot.com

Posted by: Jay at April 15, 2005 08:14 AM

Jack,
Good honest review. Hey, not every review is all smiles and sunshine. I thought I had a few comments in my review that would help Steve Wise as a writer without being to harsh. You can find my review here.

Keep up the good work!
Wayne M

Posted by: Wayne M at May 23, 2005 02:54 PM

I'd already read your review. I agree about the cover, but when you self publish, that's what you have to expect.

If you get a chance, check out my novel

Posted by: Danny Carlton at May 24, 2005 10:54 AM

Hey Jack and Danny,
Sorry about the link confusion. My old Jordan tracks review did not let me update it and put links to your reviews. So I just created a new one. You can find the links here...

Review

Danny,
Thanks for the link to your novel. I will check it out.
Wayne M

Posted by: Wayne M at May 24, 2005 11:05 AM

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