Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Review #1 - Tandem, by Tracey Bateman

Yay!  A book review!  In our house, we love to read.  In fact, if you've seen some of our previous posts regarding (ahem!) some new bookshelves or if you've been to my house, you know we have too many books for the space we have.  We even check books out of the library to minimize what we have, but nevertheless, we have a lot of books.  So, because of my love for reading here we are....a book review!

Have you enjoyed any of the recent vampire fiction available?  To be honest, I love good books.  Books that inspire and fictional works that are also social commentary.  I love for my thoughts and opinions to be challenged and to come away from a book with something.  Also, I don't like reading things out of my comfort zone...I know, I know.  But I just don't read things about paranormal things. And vampires are paranormal and vampire fiction is definitely out of my comfort zone.  As soon as I realized (as I was reading) that this book had several vampires as main characters, I was curious as to how these characters would be woven into a Christian novel.  So I begin as both a book reviewer and vampire fiction neophyte.  And since this is my first, I'm going to structure it into a few parts for my own sake.  I'll give a quick synopsis of the story and then, what I thought was good and what was bad about it.  And then a few finishing comments.  Sound good?

Tandem, by Missouri author Tracey Bateman, is a departure from the traditional Christian fiction I have previously read.   There are two strong female characters introduced to the reader, Amede and Lauryn.  The reader is taken through the story from their perspectives alternately.  Lauryn McBride is a young woman struggling to find peace in her life as she is busy taking care of her ailing father and run their family estate management and auction business, McBride Auctions.  Her father has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and is rapidly declining, leaving Lauryn to sort through the estate of the mysterious Markus Chisom on her own.  Markus was a mysterious character to many of the people in the small town of Abbey Hills and his Victorian home is being auctioned off by McBride Auctions following his fiery death.

Many of the spine-tingling and intense moments of the book take place at the unnerving Chisom home as Lauryn is sorting through the owner's belongings alone.  Lauryn has a unique relationship with one of the local deputies and childhood friend, Charley.  Lauryn and Charley depend on each other for friendship as they both deal with tragedies in their lives.  Lauryn clearly struggles with her family relationship shift as a result of her dad's illness and Charley needs a friend after his sister was mysteriously and viciously murdered the previous year.  Lauryn is thrown off-kilter when childhood flame, Billy returns to town. Lauryn is the catalyst for bringing the other main character, Amede, to Abbey Hills.

Amede Dastillion, of New Orleans, is the main vampire character in this novel.  She has received a letter from Lauryn regarding some possessions that indicate her long-lost (vampire) sister, Eden, is possibly in Abbey Hills.  Upon receiving this news, she leaves the comfort of her home in the Big Easy for a trip to the Ozarks.  While staying at the only hotel in Abbey Hills, owned by Charley, Amede's hunger for blood reaches almost intolerable levels because of the presence of her sister Eden.  Amede is careful to only hunt for animals, not humans, to satisfy her hunger.  She also takes pride in covering her tracks very carefully.  Despite her prudence, recent bloody events draw suspicion to her presence in town.

Throw in a nosy paranormal blogger and a handsome out-of-town writer along with the already-mentioned characters and you're in for a good little mystery.  I should mention that the lives of all these characters are inextricably tangled.  Will Amede be able to find her long-lost sister?  What connection do Amede and Eden have to the Chisom house?  How in the world can vampires exist in Christian fiction?  Read to find out! (I've always wanted to say that)

  • The characters and their struggles are relatable to real life. Especially Lauryn.  Her struggle with the shift of the parent-child relationship as a result of her father's illness compels the reader to react with compassion and mercy.
  • It turns into a real page-turner about halfway through.  The story is great and really draws the reader in.  
  • There are elements of redemption woven throughout the novel.  As a non-Christian, Lauryn experiences redemption firsthand through one of her relationships.  One of the vampire characters performs a redemptive act - but you must read to see who it was!
  • I felt that this book could be useful in opening up a dialog about Christianity with those that do not profess to be believers.
And what I found to be NOT-SO-GOOD:
  • I am still unsure how I feel about vampires residing in the Christian fiction genre.  And I don't know why.   I'm comfortable with the fictional idea of vampires - I'm just unsure how they relate to Christianity.  I guess I can see that it is a tool to entertain the reader, but... I will chalk this up to something that is something I don't prefer as opposed to something to which I really object. 
  • I felt some of the characters were just caricatures of a person to serve a purpose instead of a fully developed character. 
  • Just to be aware, there are suggestions of alcohol use and cohabitation without marriage (to be fair, these are neither glorified nor vilified)
  • If you are looking for a book with a strong Christian message, then don't read this book.  I would say that compared to other Christian novels I've read, the Christian message of salvation was minimal.  While there were elements of the Christian life included, there was none to little mention about the purpose of the salvific acts of Jesus Christ. 

So - to SUM IT ALL UP:

If you are interested in vampire lit and are looking for an intriguing mystery, definitely pick this up!  While it isn't the best supernatural or paranormal Christian fiction I have ever read, it was a good read (well, once I got about halfway through).  When deciding if a book is great, good, or just okay I typically depend on my internal meter of how much the literature provoked my thoughts or inspired me.  Some books just don't inspire but they definitely entertain.  I would classify this book as one of those that entertains and is not particularly inspiring or life-changing.  So, if you are looking for a quick read (think 1 week or less) that provides some entertainment, you should look no further and pick this book up. 

To be in compliance with the FCC -  I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

      1 comment:

      1. Very good review Erin! I enjoyed your balanced view of the good and not-so-good. I know this book was a stretch for you to read, so it was good to get your perspective!
        I do want to read this book now. Thanks for not spoiling the story line!!! =)