NOTICE: We were given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, which reads as follows:
Title: Soft on the Devil
Author: Robert Lampros
Release Date: December 8th, 2016
Genre: Christian, Murder Mystery, Suspense
Synopsis: When Cindy Myran doesn’t return home one night, within days everyone in her neighborhood assumes she’s dead, but Ian Phillips isn’t so pessimistic. She shows up at his door a week later, in need of help and running for her life. What happens next draws him into a labyrinth of murder, corruption, and danger, where nothing is clear and sinister secrets lurk in the shadows. Only Ian’s courage, faith, and determination can uncover the mystery and deliver him and those he loves out of darkness and into the peaceful light of safety.
My First Thoughts:
After reading the synopsis of this book and doing a little bit of research about the author I was excited to read it, but rather apprehensive. I’ve found in the past that Christian fiction can go one of two ways: either Christianity is mentioned and used as an effective tool to further the development of characters or the book smacks the reader in the face with ineffectively used bible phrases and unnatural levels of piousness. However, the synopsis was good and drew me in. Plus, this book is only 134 pages, which I can normally finish in about a day.
I am devastated to say that I found this book incredibly disappointing. This book is narrated by the main character, Ian Phillips, who is a 24-year-old, independent, and pious man but is written in a style that is quite juvenile. Sentences were all similar in length, making the writing boring and choppy in my head. Nothing seemed to flow, and references to adult topics like relationships, sex, drugs, and alcohol all felt like a teenager trying to sound like an adult. The choices that the characters made throughout the story also made very little sense, which pulled me further out of the story. I was just frustrated that I couldn’t understand any of the motivations for the characters.
In addition to the juvenile vocabulary and sentence structure, the author also commits one of (in my opinion) the worst crimes an author can commit: every piece of information I was given in the story was told to me. The entire time I was reading this story, I found myself actively begging the author to, for once, just let me see what was going on. I find it hard to call to mind any defining traits about the other characters in the story, or any of the events, or even how the story was semi (not really) resolved in the end because it felt as though every piece of information was put into a list for me, and that was the entire book. The last two sentences of the book are “End of story. Good-bye,” which is not only telling me the end instead of just concluding, it’s doing so in a way that is both lazy and borderline offensive as an avid reader. At one point, rather than letting me read an article that the narrator was reading in the book, he summarized it and added it to the list of things that he was telling me. However, the summary didn’t seem like it was any shorter or clearer than just writing the fake newspaper article would have been. If you’re going to summarize something, it needs to make the material clearer, not more confusing. Plus, reading the article would have been a nice break from the monotony of Ian Phillips thoughts and would have been an opportunity for the author to show me some of the world he had created.
I also found that the dialogue in this story was handled very poorly. Several times the conversations were unnatural and made no sense, and the author would just have a chunk of short dialogue with no attributes, leaving the reader to try to interpret which characters are saying what. There was even a point where an entire argument was written in a summary style, but it wasn’t summarized (once again, if you aren’t going to make something shorter and clearer by summarizing, just put the entire event in. Show the reader and allow them to make their own inferences and form their own thoughts about the material they have been presented with!).
Now, I knew before I started reading that this book was a Christian novel. As I said in my initial thoughts, I knew it could go one of two ways: either Christianity is mentioned and used as an effective tool to further the development of characters or the book smacks the reader in the face with ineffectively used bible phrases and unnatural levels of piousness. Unfortunately, I feel as though this book attempted to beat me into submission with Christianity, but fell apart before it could even give me a paper-cut. Anytime a character would mention God it seemed forced and unnatural. Additionally, there were several times where the main character would mention a specific verse of the bible and think about how truly it applied to his situation, but I always found that the verses themselves were quite irrelevant, or taken out of context to try to make a connection.
I genuinely found this book to be upsetting, and it is so upsetting to me that my very first author-requested review is so negative, but I honestly don’t think I have anything positive to say. This book was only 134 pages long, something that should only have taken a couple of hours for me to read, took me two weeks to finish. I kept avoiding the book with anything and everything else that I had on hand to read because I found it so distressing to read. I was intrigued by the synopsis, and there were times where I thought the plot was about to get somewhat exciting, but that storyline ended up being completely ignored.
I genuinely wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. Maybe as an example of why it is so important to show your readers what is happening in your stories rather than telling them, but I don’t personally know anyone who would enjoy it. I found it boring, confusing, and overall just disappointing. It’s possible that this book could entertain someone, somewhere, but that person is not me.