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Parents' Guide to

Strange Fire: The Anchor and Sophia, Book 1

By Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Intriguing series opener explores faith, knowledge, truth.

Strange Fire:  The Anchor and Sophia, Book 1 Poster Image

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This novel is an ambitious departure from Wallach's first two, with its intriguing setting, huge cast of interesting characters, and fearless approach to the tricky intersection of faith and science. Not quite fantasy, not quite science fiction, Strange Fire broadens its appeal by creating a familiar, almost frontier-days world as the type of society to survive a catastrophic event. Teens may relate to different characters at different times, but they'll always relate to the turmoil each faces as they sometimes look forward to, and sometimes run away from, future expectations. And of course the roles that faith, religion, knowledge, technology, and truth play in our lives are substantial foods for thought at any age.

The writing is solid, with a wide variety of believable characters and dialogue and a vast, inventive world. Fast-paced action and intrigue are woven together with quieter character development to provide a well-rounded read that keeps the pages turning. Sometimes Wallach seems to reach too deeply into a thesaurus to find just the right word, but it's a minor complaint that's easy to overlook, or ideally inspires readers to look up an unfamiliar word in the dictionary. As the first in a planned trilogy, it ends on a major cliffhanger that should have readers eager for the next installment, and full of ideas and speculation about where the story's headed.

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