Book Review: Driven

My first ever book review on this blog!

Today I’m reviewing the Young Adult novel Driven by Shellie Neumeier, published by Risen Books.

In this fast-paced story, the teenaged protagonist, Robyn, is a likeable, lifelike character. She endures school, is flustered around good-looking boys, enjoys hanging with her friends, and is particularly tight with her BFF, Em.

But Robyn’s not the typical teen; she’s a Christian, active in her youth group, and with a desire to see others come to know Christ. She and a few of her friends take it to the streets (or at least, the school flagpole), meeting each morning to pray before classes begin. This activity not only draws the ire of a local news reporter and makes school officials uncomfortable, but it also arouses the attention of the powers of darkness. These unseen entities have a mission to stop Robyn’s spiritual progress, and they don’t pull their punches.

There’s a lot to like about this story. The human characters, both kids and adults, are realistic. In an era when the focus is on fractured and dysfunctional families, Robyn’s healthy relationship with her parents is refreshing. Relevant topics are brought up and honestly explored from a scriptural perspective. Believers are neither ashamed of their faith, nor blatantly persecuted for it. The opposition is real, but it comes from the spiritual realm.

That last is the part that gives me pause. Yes, absolutely, our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the powers of darkness. But the way those entities are depicted seems cartoonish and fantastical, and, in my opinion, it clashes with the honest realism of Robyn’s story. It almost seems as if one is superimposed upon another, like a movie that combines live action and animation. Personally, I’d rather see this story told through live action and the cartoons kept in fantasyland. Nevertheless, Ms. Neumeier weaves a good tale.

At this stage in my life I’m not familiar with this age group and their reading habits, but I’d think kids would like this book, and I’d expect Christian parents would endorse it.

Driven contains 278 pages. Available in both print and e-book, the Kindle edition was released December 1, 2010 the  paperback on March 1, 2011.

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