Saturday, June 12, 2010

Echoes from the Edge: Nightmare's Edge

Nightmare's Edge, the third installment of Bryan Davis' Echoes from the Edge series, is just that--an edgy, nightmarish science fiction thriller. In Nightmare's Edge there are three Earths--Earth Yellow, Earth Blue and Earth Red. The three worlds used to exist in harmony, but Mictar, an evil force, has been trying to destroy them. The fabric between the worlds is tearing and all three worlds are on a path to collision. The only way 16-year-old Nathan can save the worlds is to travel through people's dreams to Sarah's Womb, the core of the three earths, and play his violin. Nathan is one of the "gifted ones," so when he plays his violin, it will mend the fabric between the worlds and restore the equilibrium of the three Earths.

Traveling through people's dreams to Sarah's Womb is no small task. Dreams transport Nathan, his friends Kelly and Daryl, and varying versions of his parents in and out of different earths. Each Earth is at a different place in history--1970s, pre-9-11, and sometime in the near future. All of the book's characters exist on all three earths. For instance, Nathan is simultaneously a small baby, a 16-year-old, and dead. Not only that, people's dreams are often disturbing nightmares, where reality is shadowy at best. Only using a candle lit elsewhere will illuminate who is real and who is a phantom within a dream.

In addition to three versions of each of the human characters, there are supplicants, who seem like guardian angels, as well as Patar, a stern, but good father-figure, and Mictar, who has the power to burn people's eyes and steal their life-force, not to mention call up Lucifer to assist in destroying all worlds.

Davis uses the song, Be Thou My Vision as an overarching theme, and the lyrics provide powerful and timely lessons. We learn most about the value of personal sacrifice and forgiveness, although themes of self-worth and courage resonate as well.

What I Like: My favorite part of reading the book was having Be Thou My Vision in my head for days. It is a wonderful song, and Davis made its message much more real through his compelling story. Although the book is quite scary at times, my brother-in-law, who works with teens, said "Teens who enjoy thriller/horror books are going to read them anyways, so I'd rather get them books with a strong Christian message." This book may appeal to teens who read Stephen King or Neil Gaiman.

I also appreciate what a smart science fiction this book is. At one point, a friend of Nathan's quips, "This is like The Twilight Zone meets X-Files meets Night of the Living Dead." Although I got a little lost when they were transcribing a code of base 12 numbers into musical notes to determine GPS coordinates, I did enjoy the liberal smattering of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings quotes.

Throughout the book, Davis sets up a powerful analogy of dancing with God. At the end, Nathan finally understands what his mother's supplicant told him, "Whenever someone dances with another, he is saying that he agrees with every aspect of his partner's purpose--the partner's beliefs and the principles by which he or she lives. If the music is greater than that of both partners, each one gives up his own path to follow the music's universal call."

What I Dislike: This book did not work well as a stand-alone. I wish there would have been a prologue or synopsis, giving me a run-down of the first two books. I was quite a ways into the book before I realized there were three versions of each human character. I also don't know the history of Mictar, or what he really is. A character list, stating names, ages, which Earth they inhabit and relationships would have been helpful, as well as a definition or history of supplicants and Patar and Mictar.

I have never been a fan of horror or frightening materials, but parents should be aware there are several violent and scary images. One dream Nathan enters shows a small boy playing in a sandbox filled with manure. The sandbox is in a graveyard, and children come out of the graves and spit gobs of blood on the boy. Some characters are tortured, and a minor character is killed in a fairly bloody scene describing a bullet through the head. However, Nathan's father tells him, "Sometimes it's better to face reality, even if it is frightening. . . if people could learn to overcome their fears, they would be able to move mountains."

Overall Rating: Good as a stand-alone, but probably very good as the third in the series.

Age Appeal: Publisher lists 13-16, but I would say 16-adult

Publisher Info: Zondervan, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-310-71556-6 ; Paperback, $12.99

Special Info: Mictar sometimes refers to Kelly as a "harlot" and, at the end of the book, Nathan forgives her for past experiences (no details are given).

Buy it Now at for $9.99

OR Buy it at for $10.39.

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Susanne said...

Thanks so much Erin, for continually trying to review books for teens. I have 2 so it is very helpful to me to see these on the site. Thank you!!!!!

Erin said...

Thanks Susanne! :) Be sure to let us know if your teens like any of these books, or if they have ideas for reviews. . . Erin