Monday, November 12, 2012

Double Blind, by Bradilyn Collins

I have the say the following things before I get started:

1. I'm not really a fan of Christian fiction as a general rule. I tend to think it's poorly written and unbelievable.

2. I have never read a Brandilyn Collins book but I have heard so many awesome things about her that I felt I couldn't pass up the opportunity to read Double Blind when offered the chance at a review copy.

3. I haven't looked up any information about Ms. Collins or her other books before writing this post. I want to write my thoughts out without any bias from other reviewers or additional information.

After finishing up Uncle Tom's Cabin, I really wanted to read an adventure type of book that would move at a fast pace and help me move beyond UTC - which I was spending a lot of time thinking about. (By the way, thinking about UTC is not a bad thing. But I needed a kick in the pants to get reading in another direction.) I confess that what I really wanted to do was pull a Du Maurier off my bookshelf but I have a stack of review copies that I really need to get to. Collins offered the best shot of mystery and adventure so I whipped this one off the stack and settled in for the read. I finished it about an hour and a half later and am writing out my thoughts immediately so that I can work this book out of my system. (In part, because at the time I am writing this Jonathan is working late and it's dark outside and I have this story on my brain. Bad combo.) I like mysteries and intrigue but when I'm going to indulge in such stories, I like having Jonathan around.

My favorite job I ever had out "in the work force" was working in a District Attorney's office. Day after day I worked with victims of felonies and stared at dozens of crime scene photos in capital murder cases. Then I left that job and eventually married and had children and I don't like to think about murder much anymore. I haven't the stomach for it and the idea of it is disturbing. Unfortunately for me, Double Blind features a murder scene which is described in detail over and over again throughout the book. It's bloody and gross and because I've seen photos with murdered victims in them, these descriptions bothered me. (And Collins' descriptions, for what they were, were rather clean. But still. I've seen enough of such things in real life.)

The story itself is intense for me because of the murder scene which is being described. (I skimmed whenever and wherever possible.) The murder is only part of the story and I'll be careful not to give spoilers here because I don't want to ruin the book for you, should you decide to read it.

The plot is as follows:

Twenty-nine year old Lisa Newberry has recently been widowed and is not handling the situation very well. Before her husband's surprising death (in a car accident) she had suffered several miscarriages so she is feeling rather depressed lately which is understandable. She hears of a company who is looking for test subjects who are willing to have an "Empowerment chip" placed on their brain which is designed to help the person deal with depression or stress in their lives. This chip, which Lisa very much wants to have implanted, if it works correctly, will help her to remember her husband and the life they shared together without being overcome by the sorrow of his loss. She submits to this procedure only to discover that there is something dreadfully wrong with the chip that has been implanted on her brain. As soon as she wakes up from surgery she begins seeing flashbacks of a murder.

I'll not say anything more about the plot. Except that it is about Empowerment Chips. Being implanted on brains. *Carrie wiggles her eyebrows up and down.*

As for the writing style . . . well, it didn't make me love Christian fiction any more than I already don't. Collins uses strange phrasing which jarred me from the story a time or two. She is very descriptive in places where I thought she could have more subtly described the scene. For example, I thought this opening paragraph to the book was a bit much:

"In my kitchen I took one look at the envelope in the stack of mail and dropped it like burning metal. It landed askew on the counter, the gold Cognoscenti logo pulsing up at me.
If I had known, I would have trashed it right then and there.
Nine months before The Letter had arrived, my husband had been killed in a car accident. Ryan, with his lanky body and loving touch, that dimple in his right cheek. His quirky smile and teasing way."

These descriptive passages were scattered throughout the book, although I quickly began to ignore them in the thrill of the story about Empowerment Chips being implanted on one's brain.

The book can be labeled Christian fiction because the character Lisa Newberry does pray to God for help several times in this tale. She reminds herself that God is faithful and will take care of her, even in her desperate circumstances which involve an Empowerment Chip being implanted on her brain.

I will say that it is a clean tale - minus the blood and gore. There is no language, nor are there any sex scenes. If you want a clean but rather intense (to be determined based on your tolerance level for a gross murder scenes) story, and can get into the futuristic twist, then there's no reason to assume that you would not like this story. I can certainly see why Collins has appeal to fans of Christian fiction who don't want to be stuck in the Romance aisle of their local Christian book store forever. If you are looking for variety, then you would find it with Collins. Personally, I'd recommend Stephen Lawhead over Collins because I think he tells a better story and is a better writer. But I really have no issues with Collins and I'm honestly glad for the opportunity to have read her to know who she is and what her style is like.

Of course, I'm not going to get over the concept of the Empowerment Chip anytime soon . . .

A copy of this book was sent to me by B&H Publishing Group in exchange for my honest opinion.

Because I'm not likely to re-read this title, I thought I might pass my review copy on to one of you to enjoy. (I know that some of you really love Collins and others are also curious to give her a try.) Would you care to win my copy? Simply leave a comment below including a valid e-mail address for me to contact you should your name be selected as the winner. This contest is open to US and Canadian residents and will be open through Sunday, November 18th. Best to you!

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. THE WINNER, as selected by, IS #12 - Karen


Shonya said...

Your review makes me giggle. "Empowerment chips. on her brain"

I'm torn--it sounds intriguing and murder scenes don't freak me out, but the cheesy description. . .

I may have to try one of her books sometime, however, as I *love* a good murder mystery but don't appreciate the frequent copulation in which the investigators engage. sigh

(choosing not to step onto my "inferiority of christian fiction writing" soapbox)

Diary of an Autodidact said...

I have a du Maurier that I want to read one of these days. I know her more through Hitchcock than from, actually reading her books, which is completely backwards for me.

I don't know which is more disturbing, the idea of the Empowerment Chip, or the awful writing. Seriously, authors these days really need to spend less time writing, and more time reading well-written books...

B said...

Wow. That paragraph just might take the prize for one of the worst I've read.

Barbara H. said...

You know, I do cringe whenever I see you say that about Christian fiction -- I have been enjoying it for 30+ years, and while I can't think of any of them who lives up to the classic authors, I've only found a handful whose writing I would characterize as bad. I'm not even getting what's so bad about that paragraph except the last two sentences (er, sentence fragments. THAT is a pet peeve, and one very popular Christian fiction author sprinkles them throughout her writing). But to each her own...

I have heard of but haven't read Collins and don't want to -- I have heard that she is much more descriptive and scary than what I would be comfortable with. I like figuring out the "whodunit" aspects of a mystery, but a few years ago when my husband was traveling a lot and one author I was reading was making me afraid to be alone -- I figured I just didn't need that.

I've been wanting to read Lawhead but especially now that I have listened to C. S. Lewis's Space Trilogy (review coming hopefully this week) and learned that in one of Lawhead's series he has a character named Lewis and several references to this series.

Annette Whipple said...

I will agree with Barbara on this...
Christian fiction definitely has a place on my bookshelves, though most of them I will not reread, as I would a classic.

The intro paragraph did seem a bit much...but I've seen worse.

I have read a handful of Collins. Some I liked better than others. I'm not sure where this one would fall, but I'd be willing to read it and pass it along to my church library. :)

Alison said...

I am the same way about Christian authors. I think it is sad that Christian authors don't seem to write to the standard of everything else. I wonder if part of this is because the "Christian" part usually feels just thrown in to make a book fit the label.

I have VERY few Christian authors I will read. (Maybe it's just one now! lol) I just finished reading Dee Henderson's latest mystery. It was good for Christian fiction, but not great. She seems like an author who is similar to Collins. I have never read anything by Collins so it would be interesting to see if I like her work.

Unknown said...

I don't need to win, but I wanted to post my review here in case you didn't see it (or now you can read it if you ignored it before)

It was my 3rd title by her, I think, and this was seemed much more intense and also gory.

Queen of Carrots said...

I don't want this book. I just want to say that it is not only Christian authors that suffer from this affliction (though perhaps the percentages are higher). I think a lot of authors learn to write by opening a modern book on writing, read the first paragraph which says, "Show, don't tell," and figure that's enough to get to work.

Anonymous said...

This sounds interesting... sign me up!

Anonymous said...

Also, I am a HUGE Lawhead fan, so Barbara H you should definitely check out those books. I suggest starting with the King Raven trilogy. I have yet to read a book by him that I don't adore.

Beckie B. said...

Thanks so much for your thoughts on this book and the giveaway too!


karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this novel :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Susanne said...

I read one series by Collins and enjoyed it. Didn't see the ending coming at all, which I liked. While not my favorite genre, I do like reading a story here and there in it. Thanks for the giveaway and letting us Canadians enter into it. I know that is difficult sometimes.

Susanne said...

And by genre, I meant mystery and suspense (not Christian fiction because I do like my Christian fiction). Sorry, thought I'd add that because my thought wasn't very clear in the previous comment. Discard this comment from your entries so that I only have one. :v)

BerlinerinPoet said...

Heh...DuMaurier is often my strategy to get my reading going again too.
I loved this, "it didn't make me love Christian fiction any more than I already don't." I had to read it a few times, but I giggled quite a bit. Christian fiction is generally lacking. I'm sad to agree with you.
I could see how seeing ACTUAL crime scene photos would deter you from something like this. I really love intriguing mysteries because I haven't really come into very close contact with that. So, I'd like to win it.

Unknown said...

I would love to read her books. They sound very good. Please enter me in contest.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I was a fairly avid reader of Christian fiction in my teens and early twenties. I cut my adolescent teeth on the likes of Janette Oke and Gilbert Morris! However, I haven't read in the genre, excepting a Jamie Langston Turner novel when I can get my hands on one, in years. That leaves a void for me--I'd like to read more adult fiction, but I don't want the gratuitous sex, violence, and the bad language that often permeate modern fiction. I prefer more literary than popular fiction, so the likes of City of Tranquil Light and the books of Leif Enger really stand out as favorites over the past few years. I'd like more suggestions of books like those--books on which a spiritual message is more deftly woven into the story.

I said all that to say don't enter me for the giveaway. I don't like to watch or read about violence.

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