Friday, September 18, 2009

Book Review #4: The Unseen

Wait. #4? What happened to #3?

If you read the post titled "Book Review #2", you'll see it was actually review Number 3, therefore this is Number 4. You are Number 6.

Don't go there.

Okay, okay.

And you said you weren't going to turn this into a book review blog.

Hey, four reviews out of over 135 posts does not make this a review blog.

Fine, then, get on with it.

Thank you, I shall.

The Unseen by T.L. Hines

It's pretty rare that I'll read a book that grabs my attention on the first page and won't let go until I've finished it, and this book joins those ranks. Have you ever read a book where you could predict the outcome after reading the first fifty pages? This book does not fall into that category.

The Unseen is about a young man named Lucas who makes his living washing dishes and spends his free time being an Infiltrator. He finds his way into buildings (office buildings, primarily), finds their hidden spots, and watches people. He's essentially homeless, living in the boiler room at Howard University, but very content with his life. He is Unseen by those around him, until the night another Infiltrator finds his home base. This chance encounter will lead Lucas into meeting other Infiltrators, or "Creepers" as they're better known, and as he learns about their activities, he can't help but get involved.

Unlike Lucas, the Creepers sneak into homes--something Lucas considers off limits to himself--and they record the activities going on in the homes. But they're not interested in the mundane, everyday activities of the homeowners (like blogging), they're interested in the violence that goes on behind closed doors. Spousal abuse, murder plots, they record it all and play it back for the others in the group. When Lucas discovers that the Creepers are only interested in recording and not preventing the violence they witness, he decides to do something about it.

The events that follow take Lucas on a journey that will make him question who he is, where he came from and will bring him face to face...with himself.

I started reading this yesterday around 8:00 p.m. and finished it around 11:40 p.m. I tried several times to stop, but within a minute or two, I was right back into it. I just could not stop reading it. I guess it's a good thing I'm not working right now and staying up that late didn't bother me.

I initially picked up this book at the Green Valley Book Fair because the plot, as described on the flyleaf, was different. A lot of the writing advice I read tells me that to become a better writer, you need to read, read, read, and not just within your preferred genre. I've heard of urban explorers, or Infiltrators, before but never really read anything about them, so that peaked my interest. Another bit of advice is to come up with your own unique twist on things to make the story stand out from all the others. The writer definitely did that with The Unseen. Plus, another bit of writing advice is that you should constantly ramp up the tension as the story progresses, putting your protagonist into more and more peril, so that the reader keeps turning those pages so they can find out how the hero triumphs in the end. Oh, my goodness does that ever happen here!

I will admit I found the character of "Swarm" to be a, and a little sci-fi'ish, which doesn't really fit the atmosphere of the story. As a plot device, it works, but it kinda threw the story a little off kilter to me. And a few times, Lucas looks back on his childhood, but it's always to one specific memory from when he was 10 years old, and nothing else which, in retrospect, is odd, but I didn't think so as I was reading. It's only until "Swarm" reveals all that I realized this.

Another odd thing is that this book was published by Thomas Nelson, a Christian publishing firm, but the story does not have an overall Christian theme. A salvation message? Eh, maybe. A moment of revelation? Yes, but Lucas did not turn his life over to Christ, as you might expect in a Christian story. So I find the choice in publisher odd, but that's really not something for me to judge.

I don't grade my reviews, but if I did, this one would get 7 stars out of 5. It truly is an awesome book, despite the one or two oddities. It's going on my Shelfari list (I read it so fast, I never had a chance to update it) with a great review and I hope to pick up some of T.L. Hines' other works very soon.

EDIT: In accordance with "new" FCC rules, I purchased this book.

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