Review of Karis by R.M. Strong

We all need heroes, and some of us even need to be heroes. The vigilante seeking justice is certainly not a new or original idea, but R.M. Strong has put, for me, a highly desirable twist on it with the story teenaged Tamara Weatherby. I’ll talk about the twist shortly. Tamara’s family and scores of others fall victim to a deranged bad-guy, Nothos, who uses gasses to force his victims to fear him but normally does not kill. He takes hostages, makes demands, and releases them. This time, however, when costumed crimefighters Krino and Krisis do not make an appearance (the police commissioner forbids them), Nothos uncharacteristically shoots everyone in the art museum. Tamara ends up being the only survivor.

I have to state that I believe this story is handled clumsily and the whys and wherefores of the plot elements are sometimes not explained at all. Sometimes the explanations just don’t satisfy. The book includes a lot of social commentary, about the rich and how people treat (but should not treat) them, but it doesn’t give the right answers for change. It also gives its heroine too much power and “attitude” for my taste.

Several times the point is made that Tamara should have a “female figure” in her life but it’s made weakly and shouted down. It shouldn’t have been. Questions about her new living arrangements and threats against her purity are dealt with too lightly for my taste. I wish the character Kuria had been developed more and put into that “female figure” role. I think that would have been a great help. Even her “disability” would have been an intriguing plot element.

The book ends at an odd place, even understanding that it begins a series. There was a potentially great climax point and though it wasn’t handled as well as it could have, it would have made a better ending.

The twist Strong puts on this is to add Christianity into the mix. Karis, the title character, goes through the same struggles all budding crimefighters do: the sense of loss, the realization that her ordinary friends can’t offer her the sympathy and understanding she wants, the rage and thirst for revenge. But over and over she is forced to examine her feelings, her actions, her decisions, and those of others, in the light of God’s Word and her upbringing in a Christian home with active church involvement. Christian readers need to know that there is some profanity, but a pleasing evangelistic and Christian growth emphasis balanced that out for me. There are also two pretty strong instances of attempted rape, clearly presented as evil and wrong.

R.M. Strong as an author and Karis as a character don’t always make the right decisions in this book. We all fail, and can learn from our failures to turn them into opportunities for growth. I am certainly not saying this book is a complete failure. It is an opportunity for growth, and a hopeful sign in a world, and a writing genre, where Christianity is so marginalized. The author seems to have promise of growth as a writer, and here’s hoping Karis will grow along with her.

I give it three stars

Also, here is a link to a blogger interview for our writing:

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