Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Fire Watcher by Chip Hill

I received a copy from the author - from a giveaway of sorts it seems!
First Impression: Nuclear power plant story about alcoholism and redemption through Jesus – sounds interesting. Also the haunting cover image is perfect. Let’s face it, we all judge books by their covers, at least initially.

Characters: Most of the cast has biblical first names, which correlate throughout with the message from the Bible. Jacob Adams is down on his luck, half in the bag, and hard to watch. The Fire Watcher follows Jacob through the worst days of his life, the best days, and all the little decisions leading to both. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Jacob develop as a person, and cried for all his moments of disappointment. Each character, from Jacob’s boss and coworkers to his family, stands true and feels real. I genuinely cared what happened to each of them. I believe creating people I could meet on the street or live next to is one of the most challenging aspects of writing. Well done and a pat on the back to author Chip Hill for this aspect.
Setting: As a plausible reality fiction book, the setting is just the good-old U.S.A. The time jumps from multiple stories in the present - to past situations and back again. This was handled wonderfully with clearly headed section breaks giving the setting and date changes.
Writing Style: Hill writes with the ease and familiarity of a seasoned pro, so it’s surprising this is his first published work. If there were any errors in proofreading, they didn’t stand out enough to remember. I was never confused, which is quite an accomplishment with all the storylines and time shifts throughout. Setting up for the story is slow for a while, but well worth the wait. Once The Fire Watcher picks up, you don’t want to stop reading.
What I liked: I have read a few reviews chastising the author for not researching the finer points of nuclear power stations. Unless you actually worked for one of these places, you wouldn’t have any doubts. The story is plausible and tangible, and it stays with you long past the epilogue **WHICH YOU NEED TO MAKE SURE YOU READ**. I really enjoyed the ending, as it wasn’t predictable or Hollywood – that’s all I’m going to say about it!
The Christian/Catholic aspects of The Fire Watcher make for a heart-warming and cautionary tale. The entire story is built around redemption and the love God has waiting for us all. I didn’t feel preached at – I felt I was observing real people coming to realizations about their choices.
Deal Benders: There was a few times where the story dragged out a bit as a way to build suspension. I don’t particularly disagree with doing this, but think the story would benefit from a bit more action. The thing is there were enough events to create action scenes, but they were more so quietly described instead.
Overall Rating: I would give 4.5 stars if it were allowed – Goodreads and other sites have done away with half-star ratings.
For Fans Of: The Shack

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