Author: Sharon Carter Rogers
Publisher: River Oak (December 20, 2006)
ISBN-10: 1589190971 ISBN-13: 978-1589190979
My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
I have mixed feelings about this book. First I’d like to say the opening scene is one of the best I’ve read in recent times. Awesome! And while I found the plotline and mystery at the core of the book to be very enthralling, I also experienced a strange detachment throughout the ride.
I’m used to multi-viewpoint novels, but this one I found jarring. It quickly skips from one view to another, and I knew all these threads would tie together–so it didn’t bother me, but with most of the POVs having strange names and very little physical description given, it’s difficult to remember who’s who. I had to keep flipping back, which is annoying. If you set the book down, forget it. You have to remember who’s who, who’s where and what predicament they’re in. Regarding the strange names, Lincoln, CK, Junebug, Keena, Cyril, Maria Eliza Garces, Rebel, Chance or maybe it’s Chase–not sure without the book in front of me, Galway, James Dandy, it seemed as though the author thought using her list of favorite baby names would be cool, along with her favorite letters: k, j, c, l, and r, which causes a lot of confusion. I cringed every time a new character came on the scene with their clunky, funky name. The overuse of last names also, seems like a tiny detail, a preference thing really, but CK Ivors, CK Ivors, CK Ivors ushers formality throughout the book.
The author did a FABULOUS job at revealing little idiosyncrasies of the main characters, which were cute and fascinating, but there wasn’t much beyond that. The dialogue, which could have been used to reveal more character depth was pretty blah and generic, with the exception of a few key scenes. I hoped to feel CK’s passions, hurt, anger, frustration or something somewhere along the line, and I never got that satisfaction. I don’t mean the author’s characters weren’t interesting or that they came across flat. It’s just that I didn’t experience the book, feel like I lived in that world, which I expect to happen when I read a book. While the intriguing story-question in this novel kept me riveted, there was so much about it that held me at arms-length and jerked me out of the story. With so many POVs, the protagonist in the story is not showcased enough. I don’t feel like I know her well. Only the Sinner feels well-developed. If that was her point, than she was successful.
Also, I’m not one who needs a lot of character description to enjoy a story, but the author withholds facts about some of her characters until the end. Galway, for instance, is said to be old. So I adopted a certain mental image of him, thinking that’s where the description ends. But three-quarters of the way through readers learn he’s a chubby, Irish-looking guy with reddish wisps of hair around his balding head. And the MC’s description isn’t given until almost the very end. Also, journal entries from a Beverly Scott Thomas, who I assumed was a woman, were written by a guy. Beverly? Another weird name. Maybe it’s a nineteenth century thing.
While the story served to answer the questions, SINNER didn’t really have a converging climax like you’d expect from a book in the thriller genre. All the forces didn’t come together, although the threads did, it just kind of ended after a violent episode, a story and a nap.
The story of SINNER is good, in spite of my negative comments. I enjoyed how the mystery unfolded. The piecemeal effect would have been more enjoyable for me with a wilder ending, more identifiable and pronounced characters–minus some of the crazy names. This book differs a great deal from most Christian fiction, which usually highlights at least one strong Christian main character. SINNER simply carries the message of God’s grace, which I believe speaks louder than a sermonized chapter would. I do give the author applause for that, as it gives the book a broad-spectrum appeal in both secular and Christian markets. I’m just a reader who values character development and story pull as much as plot.
I do anticipate spectacular works from Rogers in the future. She has an entertaining narrative voice, a creative mind and a heart for God.