Review: Children of Grace #1: End of Faith: A Novel by Rena Willemin

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars, Genre: Apocalyptic Fiction, Pages: 336, Reading level: Easy

Book Description from Barnes & Noble:

“Ninety-five percent of the world’s population perishes in the worst pandemic since the Black Plague and Valentina’s about to find out that surviving means enduring the wrath of a prophet determined to see her dead.

At the onset of the pandemic, Valentina deals with an absent husband, a self-absorbed mother, and grief over another miscarriage. As the death toll rises, the plague claims the lives of everyone she loves. Alongside a coalition of survivors, she fights for diminishing resources and navigates a society where uterus renting is a guaranteed meal ticket. When she rescues a pregnant woman from an attacker, she unknowingly helps the woman escape from her husband, a prophet who has amassed a legion of followers.

With a price on her head, Valentina’s on the run and grappling with feelings of guilt, isolation, and hopelessness. She’s just about given up all faith in humanity until she happens upon a girl left alone to fend for herself. The girl fulfills Valentina’s yearning to be a mother and she vows to protect her. Before she can live up to that promise, she comes face to face with the prophet who gives her a choice: carry his child, or die.”

The flu kills off most of the population and Valentina is a survivor. Not only does she endure many trials while trying to survive, but she also ends up the number one target of a crazy, weirdo, religious cult.

That pretty much sums up the book, but I promise it is not boring. It broke my heart to give this book only three stars because the story was really good. I LOVE crazy, weirdo, religious cult stories. I liked the vampire killing priests in the movie Priest. I loved the weirdo religious nuts who referred to zombies as the children of Lazarus in the Benny Imura book series. End of Faith definitely delivers when it comes to this topic. Which brings me to my favorite quote:

“Religion itself is a control too,” he said. “Perhaps it’s the original control tool with government coming in a close second. Although one could argue that governments have long enacted laws derived from one religion or another. Point is I don’t think anyone needs a book or an entity to tell them the difference between right and wrong…” p178

You may think that the whole pandemic thing has been completely overdone and I agree to a point. The first part was typical of other books and movies about civilization being wiped out due to illness, but it just doesn’t seem to get old for me. Part of it may be that I don’t read very similar books back to back. I keep a collection of them and grab one when I am in the mood. So while the first half of the book was not quite as intriguing for me as the second, it still captured and held my attention.

One of the things I loved about the book is that I had all these practical questions. Well if A, B and C are the case, then how could X, Y and Z possibly happen? Trust me, it will be explained. All the doubt about storylines will disappear by the end of the book. For example, I was a little disappointed by the whole cheating husband bit. It sounded too cliché to me. However, it does fit in there nicely once you finish the book. And this is not a spoiler in any way. You know pretty much from the beginning about the cheating husband, so I am not ruining anything there.

Now to the three star rating… I rate books based on how much I enjoy them. Usually, I do not rate down due to typos, grammatical errors, awkward syntax, etc., UNLESS it impedes my enjoyment of the book. Unfortunately, they did in this instance. After about 100 pages, I was focusing so much on the errors that I started bookmarking them. I would be totally in the flow of things and then bam, a misspelled word stopped me in my tracks. This is not an every page problem, but for me, it was enough to slow me down. Maybe it is just one of my pet peeves, but I think it deserves mentioning. Otherwise, this would have been a four star review.

I suspect there will be a sequel at some point even though this could be a standalone book. The fact that it is so open-ended kind of makes the whole thing more creepy. It leaves the future up to the reader’s imagination. But I won’t complain if Willemin opts for a sequel. The story really was that good.

Reviewed by Christina

One thought on “Review: Children of Grace #1: End of Faith: A Novel by Rena Willemin

  1. Christina, you make such a good point about the grammatical errors, etc. I’m reading a book right now in which it is beginning to become a distration. Your point rings particularly true with me because I just published my own book, “Truth’s Blood.” The editing part of finishing the book was driven home to me by my publisher and those around me. Now that it is done I am glad I took the time to get it right and the points you make here significantly reinforce that feeling. If you get the chance, you might be interested in checking out my book, in fact I would love a critique. Regardless, I will continue to follow.

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