“If We Survive” by Andrew Klavan

This novel is a parent’s worst nightmare.Well, not the novel itself, but rather the tale that Klavan weaves within its pages. This book is about missions team (picture this: youth group saving money to go on a missions trip during Spring Break) overseas that get caught in the cross-fire of a revolution that had Americans in the eyesights of the revolutionaries. Perhaps the best way to describe this Christian thrill-ride is to share how the publisher describes the book:

High schooler Will Peterson and three friends journeyed to Central America to help rebuild a school. In a poor, secluded mountain village, they won the hearts of the local people with their energy and kindness.

But in one sudden moment, everything went horribly wrong. A revolution swept the country. Now, guns and terror are everywhere—and Americans are being targeted as the first to die.

Will and his friends have got to get out fast. But streets full of killers . . . hills patrolled by armies . . . and a jungle rife with danger stand between them and the border. Their one hope of escape lies with a veteran warrior who has lost his faith and may betray them at any moment. Their one dream is to reach freedom and safety and home.

This book adds to the successful debut of novels by Andrew Klavan, and receives high praise by other reviews. At the time of this writing, every posted review on Amazon gives it a score of 5 out of 5, and I can see why. The book opens with a solid burst of action, and manages to keep a fair pace – at least a fair enough pace to keep most readers at bay. Perhaps it is from reviewing so many books recently, or perhaps I like a quicker pace than most, but I did find myself forcing to keep focused on the text instead of skipping descriptions to get to the next action scene or plot twist.

Overall, Klavan did a fair job, one that I would rate as 4 out of 5, or 9 out of 10 if I went off that scale. His imagery is superb, and the narration of a high schooler felt authentic, but it just felt like it was missing the extra push to hit the mark of perfection instead of excellence. But then again, perhaps I’m spending too much time defending 4 stars, instead of defending not selecting a lesser score. In the end, Klavan delivered, as he tends to do with his works. I’ve had the opportunity to review a couple of his titles before, so I have a fair grasp of his voice, and it’s not one to miss in the realm of Christian fiction…

Disclosure: I have received a reviewer copy and/or payment in exchange for an honest review of the product mentioned in this post.