As a writer of Christian sci-fi writer, I’m naturally interested in other Christian sci-fi books. Not that there are very many. In fact, I think I’ve read half a dozen. So when my dad brought home a copy of The Only Way, written by a family friend, I was eager to read it. Upon finishing it, I wrote the following review for Into the Book, and decided to share it here as well.
When a deadly disease threatens to wipe out all of Hexus II, the Galactic Prime decides it’s time for desperate measures. Their answer is to give grants to Dr. Dmitri Timberlane, a scientist who’s been searching for mankind’s Home Planet his whole life. While grudging the government’s reasons, Dmitri assembles a team of five experts to help him evaluate the five most likely planets.
Dmitri, David, Lennika, Kittermarand, Hayden and his wife Rhianna set out on their quest determined to discover the truth about mankind’s original home, no matter what the politics of each planet and the Galactic Prime pressure on them. Along the way, they add to their team Elijah — an expert in ancient languages who happens to have a passionate believe in Christ that causes a stir among the team members.
Along the way, the team must deal with bribery, terrorists, racism, and an exhausting schedule. Through it all, they marvel at how Elijah’s faith shines brightly and firm through all their adventures, leading them to begin to wonder — is their journey and the history of mankind as random and chance-driven as they’d always believed, or could the hand of God be guiding their quest?
In the end, the quest for the Home Planet stretches them all to their limits and tests them to their very core, leading them in directions they never would have imagined.
I read this book because it was written by the son-in-law of some friends of ours, and was immediately intrigued by the premise. It was a take on sci-fi I hadn’t seen before — no aliens, but dozens or hundreds of planets colonized by mankind through habitatualization, a process that makes uninhabitable planets fit for human living. But through all this complicated and corrupted past, mankind no longer knows which planet was their original home.
Moore’s use of science is very well done and believable for a sci-fi fan like myself, and his culture creation on each planet is well-thought out and vivid. Each culture is different and internally consistent, and each presents realistic challenges to the team as they continue their search. The plot is moderately interesting, though in some places a bit too slow while it rushes in other places. It’s overall logical and very interesting.
The major downfall of the book that kept me from enjoying the brilliant premise as much as I’d hoped was the characters. While they had a lot of potential, they never quite felt like real people to me, they didn’t seem internally motivated, but rather pawns of the author’s plans. The Christianity is a little on the preachy side, though not as bad as in many Christian books I’d read. The conversions seem forced, and characters often act inconsistently. While they were moderately interesting at times, they never really grabbed me or made me care very much about them.
The prose is moderate, with perhaps a too heavy emphasis on summary, but often an excellent metaphor or a strong bit of insight pops out of the narrative, which kept me reading on without getting bored. The story is written in the manner of the book of Acts, being in first person until Elijah, the narrator, joins in the story. While this was a brilliant idea, it was not executed quite as well as it could have been, and made the story at times confusing. I’m not sure why this was, unless it was the heavy use of summary and the lack of character realism and definition making it hard to be drawn into the story enough to quite keep track of it.
On the content side of things, the story is entirely clean. No swearing, not even a hint of sexuality, and Christian through and through. There are a couple of potentially disturbing parts, where a store is bombed and a woman hit with acid that eats away her arm, part of her leg and some of her internal organs. Some others are harmed by the bomb as well. The disease on Hexus II involves a great deal of mucus, which is described a couple times. Other than that, there is no violence or goriness.
While I wasn’t as impressed with this book as I’d hoped, there was enough promise in it to make me interested in Moore’s future work. If he creates more realistically motivated and human characters, his writing promises to be very good indeed, and I’d be interested in seeing more. While the book didn’t grab me, it kept me interested, and that’s a very good sign.