Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hangman's Curse, by Frank Peretti

This is a title from the "Christian Fiction" shelf.  It is my first venture into Christian fiction and it gave rise to some concern on my part.  Reviewers give quite positive reviews to the book.  They call Peretti the "Stephen King" of Christian fiction.  I have a less positive review.

I'm very concerned about some of the plot elements in the book.  The "Veritas Project team" a family traveling the country as trouble shooters of "strange mysteries, crimes, and unusual occurrences" do a number of things that fall well outside of scientific safety.  In this book, as they investigate the sighting of ghosts at a school and the resultant serious illnesses of students, there are several instances in which seriously unsafe scientific procedures are followed.  At one point the mother (who has a science lab in the back of the RV the family travels in) takes a suspicious straw back to the family home and actually sniffs it.  This after four students are in the hospital and on the way to death.  I don't think any well informed scientist would keep a lab in the living/travel quarters with their families.  They certainly wouldn't sniff evidence that they thought might contain dangerous pathogens or chemicals. 

I can accept some of the insertions of conservative Evangelical Christian doctrine in the book.  Although the reviewers claim they think the material wasn't intrusive, I did find it a bit "gratuitous."

As a series book I would be willing to recommend this to students whose families prefer that they read Christian fiction.  The story itself is adequately developed and does carry an important message about bullying.  However, in doing so I would also warn them that I have concerns about scientific safety in the plot.  I want students to be aware of just how dangerous/serious some substances can be.  It is not a title I would recommend to general audiences.  The plot and characters were just not compelling enough to make me want to read more.

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