"Why can't you read something Christian?"It's come up a lot in my house. When I have a stack of books next to my bed containing things like Clockwork Angel, Legend, Green Rider, and others, it's kind of hard to give a straight answer when your parents ask "What are you reading? Is that clean?"
Now it's not that I don't keep a eye on the content I read, but each of the books I just mentioned has content in it that could be questionable, and my parents would really like it if I just read Christian fiction.
But I can't stand Christian fiction.
And here's why:
#1. It's all prairie romance.
No, not ALL of it. But lots of it. Don't get me wrong, I love a good pioneer/western story, but in moderation. I also like the other genre's. And there just aren't many in Christian Fiction.
#2. The men are sensitive sissies.
In no other genre will you find men that soft-hearted and considerate. Now I'm not saying that all book guys have to be baddies with tortured pasts (even though those are fun sometimes), but the men in Christian Fiction aren't realistic. They're bordering on being feminine. And I like He-men, not girly men.
#3. The Characters are perfect.
They just are. Even when they make a huge mistake, you get the whole giant confession scene within a few pages. I want the characters I read to have flaws. And bigger flaws than "A telemarketer called and I told them I wasn't home. I lied 0.o". I want real flaws. I want to be able to relate to them. I want to see them grow.
#4. Every Christian fantasy novel known to man is some kind of allegory.
I'm serious. They all have some kind of King who died for his people, or was betrayed by the fictional Judas, or some other parallel to Jesus. I love Chronicles of Narnia. But it was a diamond in the rough. Not every fantasy book can pull off a good allegory. Is there really something so wrong with just writing a clean fantasy story?
#5. The salvation scene.
Salvation is an amazing thing and books just never do it justice. If they try to make it too special it comes out sounding ridiculous and far fetched. But too little drama and it's just a boring event that can easily be skimmed over. Another thing is, after the salvation scene, the character- if they had any flaws at all before hand- suddenly becomes a choir boy. The change is instant.
#6. The long drawn out prayers on every page.
Maybe I'm reading the wrong books, but every Christian book I've ever read was full of prayers. And I love praying. It's an amazing thing. But once again, the book version of it doesn't do the actual act justice, and it just grows tiring.
#7. The Sunday Sermon.
There's one in every book. And we get to read the entire thing.
#8. Zero action.
The Christian fantasy novels I've read are a little better at this, but still, most basic fiction genre's will have way more action (not talking violence or gore- just excitement) happen in them than the Christian version will.
Now I'm not here to bash Christian fiction. I would love if every genre had a Christian version. It would save me the time of trying to decide if I'm going to get halfway through a series and suddenly get bombarded by sex scenes and language. I'd like to avoid that.
But you just don't find Christian Dystopian. Or Christian Steampunk. Or all those other genre's that are so cool. And I don't know why, because it can be done. I love the Divergent series. I know a lot of people disagree with that, but what I really loved about it besides the story was that it was clean (I don't mind kiss scenes). It was one of the few modern YA books that didn't have a sex scene in it. There was very little swearing. The violence wasn't graphic and disturbing. There weren't dark, practically satanic themes in it. But never once did it sound preachy or lame. Veronica Roth is a Christian, yet none of those annoying traits I just listed made it into her books. You know what's cool? I read the books and told my mom "I think this lady is a Christian. It just sounds like it." And then I found an interview where she did say she was a believer.
Hunger Games is another one that impressed me. While I don't know if Suzanne Collins is a Christian, she did leave out swearing and sexuality, which is something that is very rare lately.
It is possible to write a clean story without trying to force a Bible down the reader's throat.
So why aren't there more?This is a question I lament to my mom at least once a month. And she always tells me, "Well, if there aren't any, write them yourself."
And on one hand that's helpful, because I do want to try and write stories that are clean, but still totally exciting to read. But on the other hand, I don't have time to do all of that writing. And I would like to read plot twists that I didn't come up with thank you. I like being surprised and having my feels ripped out by someone other than me. I want to fall in love with characters that I didn't create- because that's just awkward.
One thing that has been awesome is my discovery of Blink YA, and Playlist Fiction. They're subdivisions of the big publishers (Zondervan I think), and they have lots of books they've been cranking out. I own several of them and they've been amazing. Clean stories, with Christian themes, that didn't read like a sermon. I'm so glad I was able to discover them because I had literally about given up on ever liking Christian fiction again.
Are you guys looking for a good read this summer? Here's some of my favorites.
Starlighter by Bryan Davis. Awesome fantasy stories with boys that are to die for.
And there's a whole series of it, plus some tie-in series'.
Legends of Karac Tor: The book of names, by D. Barkley Briggs. It's been a while since I read this one, and I think it might have had some allegoric qualities, but they weren't cheesy, and it was a really cool story. It's the first book in the series.
The Healers Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson. Great old England story with awesome characters and huge plot twists. She's also written several other books that I have, but haven't read yet.
Running Lean by Diana L. Sharples. A modern story with a realistic problem that still managed to read like a story and not a self-help book.
Solitary by Travis Thrasher. This one was creepy. It's in the Christian horror category. And it as oh so creepy. But oh so amazing. There's a whole series for it too.
Captives by Jill Williamson. A dystopia from a boys point of view that's wrote in second person. Yay!!
By Darkness Hid, also by Jill Williamson. the first book in an awesome fantasy series. No allegories included. And a very cool story world.
The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill. This one is a fun read. And it has a sequel.
Halflings by Heather Burch. I haven't finished this one yet, but it seems like it would cater to people who like the whole idea of angels living on earth, (so like the Infernal Devices) and supernatural creatures. Mace is awesome.
There you are! Enjoy your reading. If you guys know any awesome Christian books, feel free to leave them in the comments.