pinterest-7bf66.html Reviews by Peter: Better Things Ahead (The Faceless Future Trilogy Book 2) by Nate Allen

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Better Things Ahead (The Faceless Future Trilogy Book 2) by Nate Allen

Better Things Ahead

Better things ahead? If you ever want to reach heights where you can fish disease from family members—if you ever want to step into the next stage of evolution, we must be united. United in how we think. United in what we believe. And united in cultivating a future that our closed-minded ancestors never could have dreamed of. 

A tragic trinity of losses weighing heavily on Ken, he has only just begun to trudge through his endless field of grief. But, time stops for no man. In less than six months, the Credit Chip will be the only form of currency accepted. He can either prepare for what’s to come or suffer the consequences of having the rug pulled out from beneath him.

Pastor John and the Matthews girls have more than enough money to prepare for the coming cashless society. But, life has a tendency to throw curveballs. In order to be prepared for what’s to come, they will have to decide what they are willing to lose. 

Successful in a business she never wanted, fishing cancer from animals with her mind was always supposed to just be a stepping stone to President Pummel’s heart; instead, Margaret is stuck in a niche, her popularity never higher. But, it isn’t high enough. Time to move onto the next stage…

A man in the middle of an infuriating infestation of Christians, The President needs to take some anger out on the stragglers as he works to dismantle them from the inside out. Able to kill from a distance and in secret, he finds that the high from it fades too quickly. With a new and far more volatile power branching forth, he has found a way to have his cake and eat it too. 

The Guru's Review: 

I was asked by the author to review this new episode. Like the previous one, it is just over 100 pages. And like the previous one, it is action-packed and Allen has packed a lot in this page length.

This episode is definitely darker than its predecessor. Not surprisingly seeing the first one set the stage for what is to come, introducing the characters, the spiritual themes, spiritual warfare and the evil scheme behind the Chip and the demonic control it exposes the recipient to.

This novella revves up everything on all levels. It will definitely be the springboard for more plot and characterisation and darker elements that Allen has in store. Readers of the initial episode will love this one.

You hit the ground running from page one. The cliffhanger plot arc from the previous continues where this left off. We are introduced to a new plot arc that of The Holy Army who is comprised of Christians who exist to resist the efforts and effects of the Chip and the President who has set up this demonic dominion while parading as an angel of light. We don't hear much of this group until the very end which sets up as another cliffhanger for two characters from the previous instalment. It seems this group will be dominant in the next instalment from the involvement of these two characters.

The spiritual journey of Ken continues as he strives to know God and Jesus more. I love the honesty he shows to God in admitting that he does not know Him and how does he apply Him to his life. Just as in real life, God will answer questions like this when they are based on an earnest and honest heart. This reminded me of the verse in Hebrews 11:6, 
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
We may not get a tangible answer like Ken received, with a direct answer such as "Know Me", but He does answer us in many other ways that we know are directly from Him. I appreciated Ken standing up to another character who tried to encourage him to accept the Chip and rather than give in, stood firm in his conviction that the Chip was not for the good of mankind but is of demonic origin leading to eternal damnation. This plot point raises a confronting question for us Christians. Will we be prepared to do the same as Ken here? Taken to the worst case scenario are we going to be prepared to be tortured/killed/murdered if we refuse to accept this Mark of the Beast as outlined in this novel and representative of the same as described in Revelation? Will we stand firm in our faith, knowing that God will be on the other side to accept us into His Kingdom or will we give into the pressure put on us by society and the ruling authorities to accept this? Are we certain that this Mark is demonic and lead to Hell?

I do like the plot arc concerning him at the end of the novella. It will good to read what happens to him from this in the next episode. The same can be said for his mother, Deborah.

Allen develops further the previous plot arcs from the previous novella. Margaret Still's desire to secure the affections of the President lead her more into the demonic as she deceives the masses into healing that comes at a price, that of demonic bondage but for one person, he pays the ultimate price. I found that the consequences of what she has allowed are all too real. These consequences begin to take us over and change us. In this novella, it is a combination of the effects of the Chip but it is also due to the effects of the sin that so easily ensnares us, as the Bible puts it. This also happens to another main character that leaves the novel on yet another cliffhanger and an even more dramatic one than the last. I can see readers cheering at what happens to this character but if the reader knows anything about demonic possession, it does not end the way Allen has depicted it for this character. I can only say that Allen had not left this next novella too long with this cliffhanger the way it is!

Allen likes to depict flawed characters and this includes his Christian ones as well. Even more so for these! One example is the crisis of faith Pastor John has when someone close to him has a life-threatening event. He nearly journeys down the wrong path but like Ken, God looks after His own and restores John to Him. I panicked with this plot arc as I did not want to see John make the wrong decision based on an easy, tempting solution that has a hidden price tag with eternal negative outcome. The turmoil that John goes through shows how easy it is, even with a deeply grounded faith in God, to be tempted for other solutions that are not in the perfect will of God when the situation gets dire, any immediate action from God is not forthcoming but we feel something must be done immediately. But what peace and security occur when we realise that God will intervene in His timing and His outcome that is the best for the situation we are in and that the battle belongs to the Lord and not us!. I rejoiced when John found this peace and security again albeit when God spoke directly to him. But John's answer was one of obedience and submission. That is the important thing when we respond to God. Obedience and submission. Such a hard lesson for us to learn when we fight against our fallen nature which pulls us in the opposite direction to this. 

Getting back to Ken in his flawed state, I was a little concerned as to why Allen had depicted him falling so easily into sexual sin when he seemed to be seeking God and even recognised Him as Lord and Saviour. I spoke to the author about this, as I could see that this could be a stumbling block for both Christian and non-Christian readers. Allen replied, 
Even though he is technically saved, I tried to convey that it was more done out of obligation. His whole arc, along with Willow's, is finding a point of entrance with Jesus. In many ways he was trying to return to the Ken before he came to Christ. I appreciate you pointing that out for me. I like writing characters that are flawed and I'll keep that in mind when finishing off the series. 
His spiritual growth has only just started......Do you think Ken's situation, having lost three people pretty suddenly, will help readers understand his distraction with Katie? (into sexual sin?) 
I also have found that we don't always ask for forgiveness until convicted by the Holy Spirit. I will definitely address this in part three. The pacing didn't really allow for it in book 2 (Better Things Ahead), considering how much information comes to light in Ken's final part.
An author's insight into a character's motive and behaviour is always beneficial and feedback can help them clarify issues in future works and help them to become better authors. When this is achieved, readers know exactly where the author is going with a plot arc and can better understand and relate to the character(s) and their situation. It also shows why the author included this issue in the plot. In this case, it was not to show sex for entertainment or promote society's attitude towards this and there are no graphic accounts or titillation. I understood to a point why Ken acted as he did, it was just not as clear as it could have been depicted. 

Allen has also shown more of the spiritual journeys of Willow, Lily and Deborah since Book 1. All of these plot arcs show more of the redemptive power of God and how some Christians will submit themselves to God as the events leading up to His Second Coming draw close and how some of those who do not believe will come to know Him. This is absorbing reading and is an essential element of Christian/Evangelistic fiction. 

All these plot arcs are contrasted with the darker elements of the spiritual deception that affects Margaret and President Pummel. Both reach new heights of darkness and demonic possession and I must say, I found some of it difficult reading. Of note is that of the President. Allen shows the conflict he has as his own desires for domination and control of the world conflicts with that of the demonic spirit that possesses him. The consequences are not just dramatic but far-reaching and Allen leaves the reader with a cliffhanger that is swaying in the wind. 

If there is one thing that Allen has succeeded in depicting in these books (that will make up this full-length novel) is that the Chip, Mark of the Beast, or whatever it is being called worldwide, or will be called, is not just a physical addition to control whether we buy or sell, but one that will control every aspect of our lives on every level, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically. Total control and submission to the controlling power that is behind this Chip/Mark. This will connect mankind to satan in a way that those deceived and who take this Mark will not be able to return from it. God makes that very clear in the Bible. Allen shows why this is so through the demise of Ken's brother, Kyle, who was not just deceived by the promises of what the Chip/Mark offered but was totally taken over by it on every level so described resulting in demon possession and death.  

All the events in this novella set the stage for more action-packed plot arcs and deepening character developments. This is gearing up to be one explosive good versus evil story but if Allen continues to expand on the redemptive elements and adherence to biblical principles, he will be on a winner with this series. 

Highly Recommended. 

World Building 5/5

Characterisation 5/5

Story 5/5

Spiritual Level 5/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 4/5 

Overall Rating 4.8/5 Stars

To buy or preview this novella, click on the BUY/PREVIEW icon on the image below:

No comments:

Post a comment

Thank you for your comment. It is awaiting moderation.