Wow … okay, I need to take some deep breaths after that one. This entire series has been thick with suspense and danger, but this final book in the series takes everything to the highest level!
Characters: Having read the first two books already, it was great to come back to familiar characters. My poor Tony … that man really deserves a break. But as he was in the first two books, he’s that flawed yet steady character that everyone needs in their lives. Yeah, he made mistakes, but he was a very loyal and committed person, both to his friends and family and to God. Definitely a great guy right there. And then Merri, sweet Merri. I really identified with her problems and struggles with trusting God in the face of so much. Her thoughts and reactions were so realistic – there was no sugar-coating things here. And all the side characters were pretty great – Wes and Matilda were always such voices of faith and reason! They were amazing. Rick was his normal epic self, though I will say he kinda went on a power trip. (But I forgive him, because he was stressed.) And Brent … standout character right there. He brought some much-needed comic relief. Love that guy! The rest of the side characters were also interesting and added to the story.
Plot/Writing Style/Setting: Oh my word, this plot. This was so suspenseful and fast-paced. Mix a survival book with a dystopian book, and this is what you get. Pretty engaging stuff right there. Although the plot was fairly straightforward, there were also some curveballs thrown in there. The writing style worked really well with this type of book – clean and simple while giving the reader plenty of insight into the characters’ thoughts and feelings. And for the setting … yeah, this wasn’t as dystopian as some books I’ve read, but that element of the book was definitely there, and it upped the plot to another level!
Moral/Themes: Okay, where do I even start here? This book truly presented one of the hardest questions that a Christian would answer. (At least in my opinion.) (view spoiler)[ When Eastman gave Merri the option to deny Christ or watch Tony be killed, I had to turn that question around on myself. That’s a horrible question to have to think of, but it’s so good for us to ask ourselves things like that. Would we stand strong? Would we cling to the Lord, or would we fall in the face of watching our loved ones suffer? (hide spoiler)] So that was a really powerful and scary part of the book. But even in the midst of this very threatening environment, the characters found refuge in the Lord and His faithfulness. That’s a very applicable truth for all Christians, and though we might not ever be in the position Tony and Merri were in, God is still our Refuge throughout all of our lives. We change, we falter, we stumble … yet He is faithful.
Overall, wow … this series in thought-provoking, terrifying, entertaining, but most of all, edifying. Books that teach truth and exalt the Lord above all are so needed, and Place of Refuge is one of these books.