2 out of 4 stars
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The Order by Lynn Chase is a fictional narrative based on Christian beliefs. When Detective Mike Cornell investigates the death of a homeless man, he learns that the victim is Blake Adams; they had served together in the military. Among Blake's possessions were a pocket Bible and an old photograph of his wife and daughter. Mike believes that "Religion just causes more pain and suffering." However, as he continues to investigate, Mike's beliefs are challenged, and he learns more about himself and God.
The 270-page book traverses themes of faith, forgiveness, redemption, salvation, anger, revenge, and good versus evil. Chase blends humor, fantasy, and adventure to illustrate God's love for his creations, both human and angelic. His story celebrates individuality, compares similarities between humans and angels, and includes epic supernatural battles. Throughout the book, God is referred to as "Father" or "Yahweh." His physical image depends on the perception of each individual in a manner that is somewhat reminiscent of the best-seller, The Shack.
The plot is propelled through strong character development. Although there are many angels to keep track of, Chase develops unique personalities to create memorable characters. Likewise, Mike is flawed and relatable; readers will relate to his transformation as the story unfolds.
The book's strength and my favorite aspect is the creative premise of the story. Although battles between angels and demons aren't a new concept, Chase elevates the story through the personalities of feisty Reapers and the larger-than-life egos of the Arches and the Fallen. He also provides distinct visuals to describe his characters: "Aowyn, unable to change her pink hair color, had on clothes that made her look like a regular teen dressed in punk clothes while looking bored and listening to music on an iPod."
Given the flamboyant personalities of the angels and demons, the use of minor profanity is believable. While it is likely intended to be amusing, the constant bickering between a few of the angels is less believable and slightly annoying. I dislike that the story is peppered with implied nonborderline profanity. Although noncommital comments like "It's not like I said fu--" and "You're such a bas--" do not spell out profane words in their entirety, they may as well.
Additionally, the book is poorly executed and needs a thorough round of editing. Many of the dialogues lack proper paragraph breaks to indicate new speakers. I found myself constantly rereading to clarify who was speaking. There are numerous punctuation and grammatical errors, as well as a formatting issue causing the first letter of every chapter to be on a line by itself. New characters are introduced late in the story, as are complicated portions of the plot. Based on the ending's unanswered questions, a sequel seems likely, but unfortunately, Chase tries to cram too much into one book, which ends up detracting from the story rather than enhancing it.
For all of the above reasons, I rate The Order 2 out of 4 stars. I recommend the book to fans of The Shack and Christian readers who aren't offended by irreverent humor. It will also appeal to those who enjoy reading about good versus evil.
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