Wow, what an explosive start to the series! Given this is a dystopian book, you’re bound to have all kinds of action and suspenseful situations, but this book went beyond just mere suspense. It got to the level of tearing my heart out and making me want to scream at certain characters. (Which is a good thing.)
Characters: What a great cast of characters, and there was hardly any romance! (Merri and Drew’s relationship didn’t really register on my radar because Drew didn’t have a POV. And I have thoughts about Drew, but I shall refrain.) But anyway … let’s start with Tony. I loved that he was just a normal guy, and he made wrong decisions and said the wrong things. He didn’t always know what to do, and he struggled with forgiveness and kindness just like anyone would. But he was also so stalwart and firm in what he believed, and his gentle, yet insistent, love for his sister was so sweet! (Sibling relationships need to be in books more.) And speaking of Merri … though she was an agnostic, I could still relate to her quest to find answers to her questions. And she didn’t come off as this crazy agnostic who just hated Christians and lived a terrible life – she was written quite realistically and fairly. And of course, her arc was amazing to see. Then there was Craig. I’m going to say one thing – I loved the dude. Yep, that’s where I’m leaving that for now. We’ll see how I feel about him in the next book in the series. And Amanda was absolutely amazing (such a sweetheart), and then there was Wes and Matilda, Brent, and Rick. (Rick is one of my favorite side characters – I mean, a naturopath ex-atheist who now loves the Lord and serves Him? Yes!)
Setting/Writing Style: This wasn’t an apocalyptic dystopian novel, but rather a fictional rendering of what could soon be coming to our own world. Yeah, this one hit close to home, because many of the situations the characters found themselves in aren’t inconceivable. Their government didn’t care for life (poisoning the food and water, condoning abortion and euthanasia, etc.), and freedoms were severely limited. And all of that is scarily close to our own situation. So the setting was very powerful even though it was set in an average town in the US during these bad times. The writing style was very clean, giving plenty of details but not too many. The dialogue was really nice, too, giving a natural feel for the conversations.
Plot: Intense! Though there wasn’t a ton of action (like shootouts and running from badguys), there was plenty of suspense going on. The constant dread of what would happen with the government hung over the first half of the book, and then the second half involved some betrayal from characters far closer. (Lots of betrayal, actually.) Definitely very engaging and powerful.
Moral/Theme: There is so much here to talk about. The themes of faithfulness and trust really rang through this book, both focusing on the affects of broken trust and the surety of God’s faithfulness to us in the midst of horrible situations. Unlike man’s faithfulness, God stays the same. He isn’t fickle. He remains sure and certain, a Refuge in times of trouble. The Gospel was clearly presented, and isn’t that just the most beautiful expression of finding Refuge in the Savior!
Fled for Refuge is one of those books that will push you to think and to wonder what you would do in the same situation the characters are placed into. And above all, this book reminds us that even in the worst of moments, we can flee to God to be our Refuge, no matter the storms that assail us. In my mind, those are the best types of books – the ones that remind you of eternal truths. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series!
Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher/author. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.