Saffire: Intriguing Historical Mystery (but with a Number of Critical Flaws)

And here I am, faithfully bringing to you another book review. Go me. Also, does anyone else notice how this isn't actually at the end of the month and is instead towards the beginning? (of course you did) MAYBE I'M ACTUALLY STARTING TO GET ON A SEMI-SCHEDULE? (instead of frantically pumping out a book review at the end of the month in order to meet my goal of one review a month.) Don't get your hopes up though.

plot summary

I reminded myself that once you start to defend someone, it's difficult to find a place to stop. But I went ahead and took that first step anyway. 

Image resultFor President Teddy Roosevelt, controlling the east-west passage between two oceans mattered so much that he orchestrated a revolution to control it. His command was to 'let the dirt fly' and for years, the American Zone of the Panama Canal mesmerized the world, working in uneasy co-existence with the Panamanian aristocrats. 

It's in this buffered Zone where, in 1909, James Holt takes that first step to protect a mulatto girl named Saffire, expecting a short and simple search for her mother. Instead it draws him away from safety, into a land haunted by a history of pirates, gold runners, and plantation owners, all leaving behind ghosts of their interwoven desires sins and ambitions, ghosts that create the web of deceit and intrigue of a new generation of revolutionary politics. It will also bring him together with a woman who will change his course or bring an end to it. 

A love story set within a historical mystery, Saffire brings to vibrant life the most impressive and embattled engineering achievement of the twentieth-century.


my review



I AM VERY DISAPPOINTED RIGHT NOW. Because to be honest, this book had a lot of potential. But, in the end, this was a definite no for me. 

For one, that synopsis? It doesn't represent the book very well at all. It labels this as a 'love story' (psshttt it's 95% mystery/historical and 5% romance). Also it kinda overemphasizes Saffire's influence in the book. She's honestly really not even in that much of the book. It also doesn't capture most of the main events of the book, which revolve more around James' being hired as a private investigator of sorts instead of his search for Saffire's mother. (which is prominent at first, but quickly fades away) 

Also, the pacing in the book was uneven. I can take a slow or a fast-paced book, but I can't stand those books that inevitably drag in the middle. It starts off fairly fast paced, gets super slow in the middle, and finishes off with a bit of a bang. 

Another issue I had was the romance. Like I said, there wasn't very much at all (which is a good thing), but the little bit of romance that was present was utterly ridiculous, based ENTIRELY off externals. It wasn't an accurate depiction of a relationship that would actually work. 

[SPOILER ALERT] I think I can safely say there's probably less than six or seven scenes together between the guy and the girl, and at the end, they're getting married. Excuse me, what? [SPOILER OVER] 

It was super aggravating to see this, especially in a 'Christian' (more on the quotation marks later) book. 

On the bright side, the plot was really well done. It was thick, filled with an intricate web of names, faces, locations, and events, and the author obviously did a lot of plotting. I think the setting was one of the book's biggest strengths, a rich historical setting that I knew nothing about, which was interesting. But unfortunately, I felt almost completely lost towards the end of the book. I'm sure the events all tied together perfectly, but it's just super hard to follow, and extremely confusing at times.

Although another bright spot is that the author writes amazing prose, crafting beautiful sentences and descriptions of the setting that made me feel like I was really there. However, the lack of character development alone was enough to nullify the benefits of the setting. I didn't notice any changes in any of the characters.

And speaking of characters, the main one (James) wasn't particularly likable, and I couldn't relate to him at all. (actually when I think about it that applies to most of the characters) He's... hard to describe. Not quite cynical, but overly sarcastic. 

On top of all this, there was a number of other things that were just plain unnecessary and had me raising my eyebrow going "Really?" Not the least of which was when one of the characters makes a joke about homosexuality. Just to clarify, none of the characters are homosexual, and it's definitely not promoted, but still. I was shocked to find a 'Christian' author (now you know where the quotation marks come in) who would make a joke about such a serious issue. Excuse me, sir, but that's just not okay. 

And because of that, I'm basically 95% confused as to why this book is considered 'Christian.' There was pretty much nothing that held even a close resemblance to a Christian theme of some sort. I'm sorry, but this is kinda a pet peeve for me. 

If you're truly a Christian, WHY DOES YOUR BOOK NOT REPRESENT CHRIST? The world is looking at books like this by authors like Mr. Bruower, and what are they seeing? They're seeing fiction that's nearly indistinguishable from secular fiction. That's not okay. As Christians, we are ambassadors for Christ, and you're not being a very good one when you write something like this that hardly mentions God at all or doesn't even include Christian themes. 

So yeah. This one's getting 2 stars for those reasons. XP I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. 


Weellll I think we can all honestly agree that THAT WAS A RATHER DEPRESSING REVIEW. *throws glitter everywhere and passes out sour patch* And if you feel like commenting, feel free because I've got no questions today.  XD

~ Jonathan 

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12 comments:

  1. That sucks. :( it's pretty much how i felt when i read "Risen" by Angela Hunt.

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    1. Yeah :( Oh really? That's funny I read that one also and felt similarly lol XP

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  2. Wow! You were very thorough in your review, which I really liked. Most book review sites don't get as detailed. Great job on this!
    "If you're truly a Christian, WHY DOES YOUR BOOK NOT REPRESENT CHRIST? The world is looking at books like this by authors like Mr. Bruower, and what are they seeing? They're seeing fiction that's nearly indistinguishable from secular fiction. That's not okay. As Christians, we are ambassadors for Christ, and you're not being a very good one when you write something like this that hardly mentions God at all or doesn't even include Christian themes." <<Yes, yes, that right there, sir, is so true!

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    1. Haha, well thanks, I like to be thorough! :D

      Yes (not to pat myself on the back lol) but it totally is. XD Thanks for commenting, Clara!

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  3. *nods* okay yeah, basically there are way too many "christian" books out there..

    that's one thing that makes me determined to write a REAL Christian book

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    1. *nods and actually agrees with you*

      SAME

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  4. Actually, this was good to know because I had this on my to-read shelf. XD It's disappointing when you read a book under the Christian genre and it's just...not. And like you said above, CHRISTIAN BOOKS NEED TO REPRESENT CHRIST. Definitely something I want to strive for in my own writing.

    Thanks for the review!

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    1. Ah, well glad you found it helpful! Yes it definitely is and I totally agree. *nods* I want to strive for the same thing. :)

      No problem, thanks for commenting! :D

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  5. Hello I'm Marrok. Very nice review. Don't you just hate it when books don't make good on their synopsis?

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    1. Hey Marrok! Thanks, glad you enjoyed :D yeeEESSSSS definitely

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  6. Doesn't that happen too often in books, they are allegedly a romance novel but are basically not? You did a very good job summarizing the book, I wait to see if you do one on a book I have already read, so I know how accurate you are! (I doubt I need it though)
    Is it ok if I borrow this idea?

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    1. YEESSSSS IKR IT TOTALLY DOES or it's allegedly an action novel and it ends up being 84% ROMANCE. XD Well thanks, glad you enjoyed it! :D Haha well my last review was for The Mysterious Benedict Society, so if you've read that you can compare. :D
      Sure thing!

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