Shatterworld by Lela Rose Foreman
I was given this book for free in exchange for an honest review. I was pretty excited about that because it was the first time that had happened for me. J I’d seen other bloggers get books for free to review, but I’d never gotten one before. Exciting.
Shatterworld is Christian science-fiction. It is the perfect example of good writing taking something that probably sounded odd/dumb/crazy and making it engaging. I think anything well-written and developed will be enjoyable regardless of how silly or cliché it might be. This book is proof that I’m right. J
This is the story of a young girl who’s is part of a fundamentalist, theonomist religious group who flees persecution on Earth to form their own society on a new planet. Yes, my brain kept thinking Amish in space. The book begins just as they select a planet and details out the establishment of their colony. Conflict comes when Rejoice’s love of astronomy goes against the rural and agriculturally focused life the Elders have planned. How does star-gazing help grow crops?
Now, before some of you give up on this story based on the ‘Amish in space’ part, hear me out.
This book has hexacrabs.
It is amazing the way Foreman makes everything feel logical, real, and well-developed. But, the beauty comes in her alien race, because *Spoilers* the humans aren’t alone. The hexacrabs are fascinating. Their culture, language, and characteristics are appealing even as they are foreign. I relished every interaction with them. They are the element that keeps this story from being preachy or underdeveloped. Foreman has a gift with cultures, a real gift.
Without spoiling the story for you, I also loved how Rejoice is challenge throughout the story to be herself and yet weigh her own selfishness in that. I love how not only does Rejoice grow and change, but everyone does: parents, teachers, elders, siblings, friends, and hexacrabs. The world feels very rich because no one is static. They are all affected by what they believe, why they came here, the choices they made, and the world around them. This book, while simple in many ways, was a great example of the idea that side characters should all think they’re the main character.
I enjoyed the moment when disaster strikes and Rejoice waits to hear from God to see how she should proceed. At first, I worried she might actually hear God, instead she applies her God-given gifts to the situation and heroically save the day with the help of her autistic brother Makepeace. A perfect example of God using means within his sovereignty.
While I obviously don’t agree with all the theology because it’s a story about a fundamentalist/theonomist space travelers, the story never becomes preachy and the flaws within that belief system are easily seen. I think some good conversations could be had with your children as they read this book about the nature of sin, selfishness, gifts, family, church authority, and so much more.
If I was to nitpick this book, my only complaint would be the huge amount of characters to keep up with complicated by the names of some of them. This wasn’t a big deal to me, but I can see it being a minor hang up for some people.
Overall, this book is a wonderful adventure for both boys and girls, clean, with a strong family structure and plenty of opportunities for discussion. Plus, as an adult, I thoroughly enjoyed it.