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The Sky Chronicles: When the Sky Fell Review by Josiah Wright, son of Dr. Anne Margaret Wright

By Mike Lynch and Brandon Barr
Silver Leaf Books
PO Box 6460
Holliston, MA, 01746

If you're like most people, you enjoy stories about the end of the world. Come on, admit it! I'm not a psychologist (only the son of two shrinks!), so I won't pretend to know why, but there seems to be something in the human mind that is utterly fascinated with the circumstances of our demise! Most of the time, apocalyptic stories are nothing more than excuses for gratuitous destruction on-screen (or on-the-page). Imagine my surprise and delight to find When the Sky Fell, an apocalyptic military/science-fiction thriller written (by two Christians) as an allegory of the life of Paul! The book begins in the year 2217, when Earth has just fought and won a long and costly war against the extraterrestrial Antarens. The book opens to the discovery of an unknown object controlled by a mysterious race of beings who call themselves the Deravans. As the story progresses, the Deravans are revealed to be a demonic species that destroys other civilizations coldly and methodically. And guess what? Earth is next on the hit list.

The hero of the story, Commander Frank Yamane, is one of only a handful of survivors from the first devastating assault upon humanity, an assault that culminated in the near-total destruction of Earth and the decimation of the Star Force armada. The obvious solution? Go beg a couple of starships from the aliens Earth just defeated! What makes it worse? Those same aliens were responsible for the death of Yamane's wife. If this book sounds like it tangles with some weighty philosophical dilemmas, it does. Throughout the book, Yamane and his close friend Stan Kershaw debate each other on issues like conquest versus survival, and ultimately Yamane is asked to make a decision to place his faith in the Antarens' "High Son." Sound familiar? But not to worry--this book is definitely NOT an excuse-for-a-moral. (If that's what interests you, read Plato's Republic.) The story, while at times slightly difficult to follow, is extremely interesting. And oddly enough, the fact that the ending is practically given away in the opening pages of the book doesn't detract from the "edge-of-your-seat" element throughout. While the descriptions of space battles are very well written (such that even the sci-fi "uninitiated" can visualize what's going on), the descriptions of some technological and military procedures might fly like a starship right over most mortals' heads--like mine. However, the story has elements of many other genres, and there should be enough here to keep most anyone reading for a long time.

Without giving away too much of the plot, I can safely say that the Antarens are (in general) quasi-allegorical representations of the early Christian church. Why then do some Antarens do some very un-Christian things? This is one major flaw in the allegorical structure, but it is easily overcome by noting that the allegory (so far) is very loose. In fact, it's difficult to find anything specifically symbolic until about halfway through the book, when there's one of those great "a-HA!" moments. I say "so far" in order to point out the other major con to this book: WHERE'S THE SEQUEL?!? This book ends on a very undecided note that will leave readers hanging. Fortunately, this appears to be only the first book in the series.

On the whole, I feel that When the Sky Fell would be best suited for high-schoolers or adults. A very confident reader of, say, middle-school age might also enjoy this book but will likely need some assistance. I can therefore wholeheartedly recommend this excellent faith-building book to you with only one complaint--Where's the sequel?!?

Product review by Josiah Wright, son of Dr. Anne Margaret Wright, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November 2009