CSFF Blog Tour Wrap – Storm by Evan Angler


CSFFTopBloggerJune2013Despite our coming into a series on book three, the CSFF Blog Tour turned in a good number of favorable posts discussing Storm by Evan Angler. This middle grade end times, apocalyptic dystopian fantasy proved to be a surprise to many of us.

In all, nineteen of us posted thirty-five articles! The one I would have loved to read was an interview with the elusive Mr. Angler, but perhaps another day.

But this brings us to the hardest part of the tour (from my perspective)–choosing a top tour blogger. Hard, yes, but still worthwhile. Bloggers that put in the extra effort to post throughout the tour and to write interesting, meaningful copy deserve to be recognized. And those participants eligible this month are

(Each check mark links directly to a blog tour article).

And now, it is time to vote.

Published in: on July 2, 2013 at 5:27 pm  Comments Off on CSFF Blog Tour Wrap – Storm by Evan Angler  
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CSFF Blog Tour – Storm by Evan Angler, Day 3


Storm_coverStorm, book three of the Swipe series, featured this month by the CSFF Blog Tour, is a credible apocalyptic dystopian tale written by the elusive Mr. Evan Angler. It’s the story of the Revelation of John recorded in Scripture as the last book of the New Testament.

And yet you’d hardly know it. Before it is an end times novel, Storm is a middle grade novel peopled with interesting characters trying to survive as best they can.

The Story. Before I get started, let me say that I recommend you read the first two books in the Swipe series–Swipe and Sneak, then pick up Storm. I actually thought the author did a masterful job acquainting new readers with what happened before. It didn’t feel forced, and I thought the review might be considered helpful for readers who had been away from this world for six months. Still, I didn’t feel as if I got as much out of the book as I would have, if I’d read the first two offerings first.

But back to the story–or rather the backstory. After a horrific war, the leader of the united America initiates a system requiring all citizens to receive an identification mark when they turn thirteen. Logan Langly reports to receive his mark, though he is filled with doubt. His sister had reported to receive her mark on her birthday and had not been seen since.

Logan has completed the preliminaries, but before he receives the mark, he changes his mind and becomes one of the many Markless who are not considered citizens. They can’t use transportation systems, get jobs, buy or sell goods, and more.

When Storm begins, Logan has been recently freed from prison, having been betrayed by his sister in his attempt to rescue her. In so doing, he exposed the government’s underground prison system and the security force known as the IMPS.

One of those who helped Logan is Erin, a Marked citizen who has contracted a manufactured virus intended to be released as a weapon against the Markless. But obviously something has gone wrong. Logan and his friends set out to do what they can to save Erin, but Logan becomes embroiled in political intrigue as a United Europe joins with America to create the Global Union. What can Logan do to help his friend, save his sister, and protect the Markless who are at the mercy of the government-controlled weather?

Strengths. The most notable strength, I thought, was that Storm didn’t feel as if it was an end-time novel, with all the predictability that contains for anyone familiar with Revelation. The story was clearly about Logan and his friends, though there were cataclysmic stakes.

I also thought the futuristic elements were credible–the development of, and technology in, cities; the creation of a controlling government under the leadership of a charismatic or revered head; the change in modes of transportation; the development of a government-controlled system to manipulate the weather; and so on.

Another strength was the appearance of “good” and “bad” characters on both sides. Some Marked citizens awoke to the realization that the government was going in the wrong direction. Some Markless seemed less concerned about doing what was right than doing what was good for their friends.

In all, I thought the plot moved crisply and there was intrigue and suspense that kept my interest. I wanted to know the answers to the many questions that popped up along the way. I liked the unexpected twists that kept me second guessing what appeared to be happening.

Weaknesses. While there were some minor issues–an omniscient point of view that seemed to shift from one person’s thoughts to another’s within a scene, for instance–they did not significantly pull me out of the story. One thing did, however.

Perhaps half way or two-thirds of the way through the story, one of the characters finds a copy of Swipe, the first book in this series, and one that supposedly chronicles the events of the characters we’re reading about. On the surface that might sound like a clever device, but in actuality it pulled me from the story completely.

I mean, I was lost in a world that had no cars because there was little to no gasoline, and highways were falling apart. The cities were all filled with buildings twice as high as today’s skyscrapers, and citizens were tattooed with a mark that allowed them to enjoy the privileges of place. It was a believable world that I could conceive of fifty, a hundred years from now. And suddenly I was reading about a book that came into existence in my real past.

I felt like someone woke me up by dumping a bucket of ice water on my head. No, I was no longer in New Chicago or Beacon or Spokie. There was no DOME or IMPS or Global Union or weather mill. I was reading fiction, and fiction that was calling attention to itself in the process of pretending to be someone’s documentation of real events.

It was really the only disappointing part of the book, but alas, it was repeated several times, and Storm itself comes into play in the end.

Recommendation. If someone is looking for a Left Behind type book or a story filled with references to God’s judgment or the need for salvation, they should bypass Storm and the Swipe series.

I could be wrong about this, but one line made me think this story is supposed to have happened after the rapture (I think there was a passing comment about thousands of people who went missing). If I’m right, then I think these people–Marked and Markless–are acting in perfectly believable ways. They didn’t know about the prophecies in Scripture, about God’s love, redemption, or the coming judgment. Consequently it’s no surprise that they aren’t praying, worshiping, witnessing, or commenting on the hand of God and the fulfillment of prophecy before their eyes.

They’re mostly surviving, but they’ve found a Bible, and spiritual things are dribbling into their lives in a natural, believable way. So if a reader is looking for a story that is intriguing and credible in its approach to the future, then Storm is the book–after reading Swipe and Sneak.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

CSFF Blog Tour – Storm by Evan Angler, Day 2


BadBeginning-coverI like blog tours that give me lots to think about–such as the current one for Storm by Evan Angler. The downside, of course, is that I have to decide between a variety of topics, and today, I’m having a hard time choosing.

I thought I’d delve a little more into the political intrigue that plays a significant part of the Swipe series, but instead I want to talk a little about the author, or the character, Evan Angler.

One reviewer remarked about how unusual this book was that the author was a character in the book. Ah, I realized, it may be unusual, but it’s not unique. It has been done before.

Most famously, the middle grade books known as A Series of Unfortunate Events (Book one, The Bad Beginning) were written by Lemony Snicket, a pen name for American novelist Daniel Handler, as well as the name of the character in the books who narrates the story.

To my knowledge, this technique has not been copied widely, if at all.

I do know of another short series that used a similar device, though I don’t know if the Lemony Snicket books were influential at all. I’m referring to Matt Mikalatos’s two Christian speculative humor novels–My Imaginary Jesus and Night of the Living Dead Christian (see my reviews here and here). In both books Matt appears as a central character–either as the protagonist or a secondary-character narrator.

What does all this have to do with Storm and the Swipe series and Evan Angler? The author has used the same device, though I suspect there is an intentional borrowing or overt influence from the Lemony Snicket books.

Part of me thinks, it’s about time. I mean, The Bad Beginning first appeared back in 1999. And no one else has used this author/character device in all this time?

Another part of me wonders if readers familiar with the Lemony Snicket books will think the Swipe books are derivative. It’s hard to think so, though, because the tone of the two series is vastly different as is the subject matter. The only commonality I can detect is this author/character device.

The question, then, is whether or not the device works. I think there’s a lot of intrigue created with the use of this kind of pen name. The pretend writer has his own persona and history and interaction with the story events. But in the case of the Swipe books, it appears that the real author is determined to remain behind the curtain. At least I have yet to locate any information about the person behind the pen name.

So yes, I’d say, for me, the device worked to spike my interest. There’s an accompanying tactic that I think may have backfired, however, but I’ll address that in my review tomorrow.

For now I suggest you check out the various posts from blog tour participants discussing and reviewing the Swipe books.

Shannon McDermott posted a review of book one, Swipe yesterday, and book two, Sneak, today. Chawna Schroeder has a two-part review of the series as a whole (see Part 1 and Part 2). Emma and Audrey Engel have a giveaway for Storm over on their blog. And don’t forget to check out the ever delightful Tuesday Tunes put together by Steve Trower.

You can find the entire list of participants at the end of my Day 1 post, and I suggest you take a few moments to check out a couple of these articles. Why not leave a comment as well? Tell them Becky sent you. 😉

CSFF Blog Tour – Storm by Evan Angler, Day 1


SWIPE_coverThis week the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring a middle grade apocalyptic dystopian Storm, third in the Swipe series by Evan Angler. Except . . . Evan Angler is a fictitious character and actually a part time character in the book. In fact, the books are also part of the story. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

When I read the blurb about the first book in the series, Swipe, I have to admit I pigeonholed the story as “typical end times fiction.” As innovative and intriguing and popular as Jerry Jenkins Left Behind series was in the beginning, the sheer length of his story wore people out, I think. At any rate, even I, who never read the Left Behind books, have some end-times weariness. I wasn’t looking to read someone else’s idea of what the end times will be like.

Well, surprise. The Swipe books are not your last generation end times stories.

They are, first of all, featuring young people, not adults. Most noticeably, however, is the fact that the cataclysmic events central to the story are handled as part of a natural chain of circumstances. No one is pointing to Scriptural parallels or calling for repentance. Spiritual things are a part of the story, to be sure, but primarily the characters are concerned with how to survive.

Add in the recent news events surrounding identity theft, government surveillance (also called “spying programs” by some), national security leaks and the global manhunt for Edward Snowden, the Benghazi incident with the government’s release of false information and what appears to be a positional reward for the ambassador who took the heat, and the story of Swipe suddenly seems more plausible than fictitious.

Here’s a part of the description of Swipe that explains the key element in the book:

Set in a future North America that is struggling to recover after famine and global war, Swipe follows the lives of three kids caught in the middle of a conflict they didn’t even know existed. United under a charismatic leader, every citizen of the American Union is required to get the Mark on their 13th birthday in order to gain the benefits of citizenship.

The Mark is a tattoo that must be swiped by special scanners for everything from employment to transportation to shopping.

For more about this intriguing series, I encourage you to stop by Evan Angler’s site and view the trailers for all three books. Also be sure to visit the blogs of the other CSFFers participating in this tour (reminder, check marks link you to articles I have found):

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