That’s all Parvin Blackwater has left.
Then she dies.
Author Nadine Brandes’s debut novel, A Time to Die, pulls its readers into a Dystopian world in which all citizens are assigned a clock at birth, showing each person exactly how long the have to live. To the second.
Parvin’s time is almost up…and she’s determined not to waste it.
A review I saw described A Time to Die as “dystopian fiction…with hope”. And this is the critical component that makes this book more than just a good read. Parvin’s journey illustrates that even when we are come face to face with death, our lives still matter and that those moments are often the time when God chooses to use us in the most powerful ways.
Granted, Parvin’s journey is hardly a stroll through the park. In the race against her own clock, Parvin is harassed by cruel government agents and ultimately leaves her home, left alone against wolves, assassins, the raw elements of nature, and learns the ropes in the trader city of Ivanhoe, which feels like a re-imagination of Bartertown from “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.”
To use a phrase that the cool kids are using these days, “the struggle is real” for Parvin. Very real. So much so in some sections, that I probably wouldn’t recommend the book for reader’s younger than 12 depending on the sensitivity of the child (parents should make their own judgments). But Parvin’s resilience and the story’s strong faith elements help balance the narrative, guiding it away from the “doom and gloom” of many of Young Adult novels.
Central to this hopeful atmosphere for the book, is Parvin’s own faith in God, which is excellently shown throughout the book. Brandes lets us in on Parvin’s prayer life as she endures her trials. And the best part is that a lot of Parvin’s prayers sound like my own. Fear prayers. Whining prayers. Sarcastic prayers. A Time to Die handles its faith elements better than nearly any other Faith based book I’ve ever read.
The story itself is magnificently crafted, with complex, well developed characters. Several tropes common to the dystopian genre are implored (the brave young heroine, the brooding but handsome hero, the twisted calculating government official), but the story leads these tropes into new and exciting territory.
The only complaints I have toward the book come mostly near the end, where several abrupt plot twists happen right before the last pages, leaving the reader with a knot of unresolved emotion in their chest and a slew of nagging questions which go unresolved until the second book.
Maybe that’s a valid complaint. Maybe not. In either case, the story takes its reader on a fantastic ride which leaving them itching for the next book in the trilogy.
Fortunately for you, book two just so happens to come out next week. Be on the look out for my review of A Time to Speak here in the next few weeks.
If this looks like your kind of book, you should saunter on over to EnclavePublishing.com for more awesome Faith based SciFi/Fantasy titles.