David C. Cook
The premise of Travis Thrasher’s Gravestone, the latest book in his Solitary Series, is this: What if you didn’t have to solve the puzzle until you first proved it even existed? It sounds clever; however, as intriguing as that concept may be, the plot becomes tangled and then lost in the pages.
The novel’s hero is Chris Buckley, a high school boy caught in the conspiracy of a satanic town. Unfortunately, no key aspects of the plot are brought to conclusions. Creepy tunnels housing a man with no eyes are talked about, but then forgotten. Lonely, lost babies crying for attention are presented to the reader, but then those characters are dropped fifteen pages after being introduced. Chris’ dead girlfriend visits him as a ghost coming to his dreams, yet she is not an integral part of the overall story. A bird and a wolf seem to be following Chris, yet their presence is neither explained nor explored. I still don’t know what happened in the end or even what happened through most of the book. Chris moves from one experience to another without developing any personal motivation for his decisions or actions. There is no set plotline. The book is chaotic and random, filled with graphically visual scenes and scary incidents, but no central goal or message or theme.
To be fair, there are bright spots. As I mentioned, some intriguing mysteries and characters are introduced, and Thrasher’s writing shines during these moments. I particularly enjoyed his transition chapters, which granted a refreshing change of pace. He sets up the foundations for some marvelous lessons about God that could be finalized later in the series. Much of his theology relates to 1 John, but he works many other Bible books and verses into the story. My favorite moment is when he quoted Isaiah 59:9-10 right as the main character was abandoning his hope of God: “We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes.”
There is some treasure on this ship, so I was sad to see it drown beneath the weight of filler pages and haphazard plotting. The bright moments were enough that I’ll be watching Thrasher’s writing in the future, but this book is probably only enjoyable as a step into the next books of the series. – Hannah K. McMullen, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
In the latest book in the four-book Solitary Tales, Travis Thrasher once again plunges young adult readers into the dark mysteries of Solitary, North Carolina. At first, Chris Buckley was simply warned. And watched. But as Chris unravels the haunting riddles of quiet Solitary, he finds that much more than the life of a town is at stake. Whether facing a pastor with a house full of skeletons or a cousin he never knew existed, Chris is forced to choose between light and darkness, life and nightmarish death.
In this shocking sequel to Solitary, Travis Thrasher masterfully weaves a tale of one high school student thrown into a battle over a town, a secret-and ultimately his own soul.