Hidden in the tall grasses along a shore littered with the rusted metal remnants of a once-great city, a hunter crouches. It is the eve of her eighteenth Birth Remembrance and high time she proves to herself and her brothers that she can stand on her own two feet. Selah Rishon Chavez waits not for game but for one of the small boats that occasionally crash against the desolate shoreline. Because inside one of these boats she will find her quarry—a Lander.
These people from an unknown land across the ocean are highly prized by the Company and bring a good price—especially if they keep the markings they arrive with.
Everything falls to pieces when the Lander whom Selah catches is stolen by her brothers, and Selah wakes the next morning to find the Lander’s distinctive mark has appeared on her own flesh. Once the hunter, Selah is now one of the hunted, and she knows only one person who can help her—Bodhi Locke, the Lander her brothers hope to sell in the Mountain.
I am really trying to stretch myself this year by sampling a number different authors and genres within Christian fiction. This week I had the pleasure of reading Thunder the first title in Bonnie S. Calhoun’s Stone Braide Chronicles. Thunder is a young adult (YA) title in the speculative fiction genre. I chose to read this particular book after being so pleasantly surprised by Mary Weber’s 2014 title Storm Siren. This book is in the same speculative fiction vein as Storm Siren but instead of being set in a fantasy world it is set in post apocalyptic America – Norfolk, VA to be exact.
Speculative fiction lends itself to a good deal of descriptive writing. Bonnie Calhoun successfully captures her readers’ attention and imagination as she draws them into her imagined world. Her characters use an interesting blend of primitive and new technology…picture horse drawn hovercrafts. I felt she was a little heavy handed in describing the use and development of the technology and weapons; however, I’m sure the young adult audience this book was written for won’t give it a second thought. Calhoun instantly made the reader-character connection for me. We meet the main character, Selah, just before her 18th birthday. Like a lot of young adults I’ve known, she is learning who she is and developing her own sense of self-worth. She is brave, intelligent, resourceful, and caring towards others.
Thunder touts a lot of Christian speak: Bohdi is from “The Kingdom” across the sea, he was banished for self-centered rebellion and lack of repentance. Landers can feel “The Presence,” and Selah’s father was always watching over her even when he wasn’t with her. I didn’t find any predominant Christian themes or feel that the characters demonstrated any spiritual growth. As I read, it became clear to me that the author was setting the stage for future titles in this series. While the reader is given everything they need to follow this story, I was left with many unanswered questions.
For parents who are screening YA titles for their teens I will share a few observations. There is an attraction that develops between the main character Selah and the Lander named Bodhi. Beyond a tingly feeling Selah when she sees Bodhi without a shirt, a few brief embraces meant to provide comfort, and a kiss, the book is devoid of sexual overtures. From the moment Bohdi is captured through the end of the book it reads like an action packed tale of escape and evasion. There is enough violence, in my opinion, to hold off recommending the title to anyone under the age of 15 or who especially sensitive. One particular scene (6 sentences) describes a man being burned alive, was a little graphic even for me. If your teen is into dystopian novels they will enjoy Thunder.
I give Thunder 3.5/5 stars due to the touch of graphic violence and the burning questions that remained unanswered.
**I received this book free as a member of the Family Christian Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
About the Author
Bonnie S. Calhoun teaches workshops on Facebook, Twitter, HTML, and social media at writers conferences. In her everyday life she is a seamstress and clothing designer. Bonnie and her husband live in a log home in upstate New York with a dog and two cats who think she’s wait staff. Thunder is her first YA novel.