Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Courageous (Book Review)

By: Dina Sleiman
Rating: 2 stars (It was okay)
Age range: 16 and up

For starters, I'll just say I haven't read the first two books in the series! (I heard that person in the back gasping...) I think it probably detracted from my enjoyment slightly, just because I didn't have the backstory of the characters. I mean, I could piece together the characters simply because I've read the synopsis of the first two novels in this series, and because there are some slight explanations, but it most likely would've been more fun if I knew the characters already and could say 'Hey! There they are!'. However, that's completely my own fault, and hopefully doesn't appear very negative. I simply would recommend reading them in order.

Okay! So we've got that down, now to the actual review...

The first 200 pages were a bit rough for me. Not because I wasn't really interested, but because some circumstances felt a tad inappropriate and uncomfortable. I did think it read more as a Christian Romance for older readers, instead of Teen Fiction. There was quite a bit of mentioning of things like girl's curves, women's virtue, Saracen harems, and then there's Rumsford and Jocelyn and what happened in Rosalind's past. Now, I know that's one of the main points of the story, because she must come to accept God's grace and stop trying to earn it, but it just isn't what I'm used to reading and it made me kinda uncomfortable. These above-mentioned points were my biggest struggle with the book, but it improved, and I ended up enjoying it more. Something shifted around page 200, and I felt more comfortable. However, those points lessened my enjoyment of the book quite a bit.

Though I didn't love the characters, I did like them. Rosalind and Randel made a cute couple, and I liked their relationship. It had a depth that sometimes doesn't make it into romances. They were in no way shallow, and I especially liked how they were good friends first, and then they started to fall in love. That they were there for each other when it mattered most and that they could share their deepest hurts with each other - because that's completely how it is supposed to be. That is one of my favorite parts of the book! I was pleasantly surprised by their relationship. It was sweet, and they genuinely cared for each other in a really special way. And the epilogue was cute.

The other thing I liked about this book was the accurate and deep portrayal of faith and trust in God. The prayer, the singing, the character that came to Christ, the visions, the small voice of the Holy Spirit leading the way, Sapphira's amazingly in-tune relationship with Jesus - it all had a surprising (in a good way!) amount of deepness and reality to it. Dina Sleiman did not shy away from the faith message, which is definitely worth an applaud from my corner.

Another thing is the history. The Crusades are an interesting time in history, and this book felt well-researched and realistic - realistic not just in the historical aspect, but the character's emotions and the trials they went through and the redemption in the end.

AND I ACTUALLY FIGURED OUT WHO THAT BAD GUY WAS. YES. I was kinda happy. I mean, at first I thought it was this person, and then OH! maybe that person, and then maybe that third person over there, and then things started becoming clearer and I was just like YUP. It's them. But, on that note, part of the villainous character's previous attitude toward Randel didn't necessarily add up for me, but, hey, maybe it was a facade the whole time.

Overall, I somewhat enjoyed it at times, it just felt significantly uncomfortable and inappropriate at points, maybe even dark, the writing was a bit dry, and definitely seemed like more of an adult romance than a teen romance. I probably wouldn't recommend it for people under the age of 16, or possibly even 17 or 18. It really depends on the person.

Big thanks to Bethany House for sending me this for my honest review!

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