Firelands is The Hunger Games meets the Book of Mormon with a side of the Salem witch trials. It’s a serious page burner.
Premise: The apocalypse has come and gone and in its wake food is scarce. A despotic man, Joseph, creates his own religion to control the people by controlling their food. Archer, a girl who protects herself from the Josephites (who like to burn women to atone for the people’s sins) by dressing as a man, hunts game to supplement the meager rations provided to her village. The only thing her meadow is allowed to grow is hemp, and only enough to keep them from complete starvation. When Archer’s cousin, a Josephite, escapes the city, the Josephites are sent to hunt her down. Archer is forced to hide her cousin to prevent her whole village from being killed in the Josephites’ Godfire. But the secret Bunny escaped the city with might be the key to saving them all.
Theology: Mixed bag
This is one of the theologically most interesting books I have read in a while. Archer, the protagonist, is an atheist. She doesn’t believe in God because of the way the Josephites have perverted Christianty. Her friend Quinn prays to a goddess instead of God. I’m not sure how else goddess worship differs from God worship. Her cousin, Bunny, is part of the underground church and is a true Christian. She prays, she has faith, and she lives what she believes in a beautiful witness of Christ, complete with Bible knowledge and correct theology. The book is not labeled as Christian fiction, and for good reason. If it were Christian fiction, it would be the edgiest Christian fiction out there. (Keep reading).
Language—the full spectrum of profanity lies in this book. It fits the characters, so it’s not out of place but it is there and it’s about what you’d expect if you watched an R-rated movie. Sex—before marriage, without qualms but not described. A bordello is one of the book’s settings and a broad range of deviant sex acts are implied. Violence—yes, lots of violence. It’s war and both sides fight dirty.
Once you get past the first chapter which reads like a cheap Hunger Games knock-off, Firelands is magnificent for a debut book or any book. I couldn’t put it down and I can’t stop thinking about the story. Fantastic job, Piper Bayard!
Star rating: *****
What is the edgiest Christian fiction you have read? What do you think—should Christian fiction be edgy or safe?