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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
416 pages
Mar 2006
NavPress Publishing Group

The Evidence: Mars Hill Classified Series #1

by Austin Boyd

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Review:

In The Evidence, Austin Boyd creates a story that is of truly universal proportions. John Wells, the storyís protagonist/astronaut, watches from space as the U.S. is attacked by terrorists. In the months following the attack, John develops a radical theory about who was behind the attack and how it was performed. Since his ideas run contrary to the governmentís plans, he must find an ally down on earth to act as his feet before the U.S. military becomes too involved in a military attack against the wrong country. The scale and impact of the terrorist attacks are extreme, but the story doesnít really take off until NASA starts receiving signals from Mars. The country then becomes obsessed with the possible discovery of alien life.

The broadness of this story is its most remarkable feature. It spans across several years and takes place in such exotic locations as Greece, Space Station Alpha, Mars, and at least a dozen places in North and South America. However, an overabundance of minor characters causes confusion and makes it hard to become immersed in the rich, detailed settings.

Johnís relationship with his wife Amy governs his actions throughout the book. He is presented with unique challenges when he is separated from her and confined with other women while in space. His devotion to Amy is a good example of Christianity to his predominantly unbelieving fellow crew members.

While many of the relationships between the characters feel contrived because of the labored and overly formal dialogue, one relationship that does come across well is between John and Sergei, one of his crewmates. When the two are floating in space while performing a repair on the station, Sergeiís suit malfunctions, allowing them only minutes to get back inside before he runs out of oxygen. Johnís faith compels him to attempt a daring and dangerous rescue mission to try to save the life of his friend.

None of Boydís characters are predictable. From the prophetic preacher to the villain from the South, each brings a unique feeling to the scenes in which he appears. But because there are so many characters, it is often difficult to keep track of what role each plays. Also, the male characters are weakened by their use of macho one-liners and other cliches.

The character of John Wells is constantly torn between going back into space or staying home with his family. This tension drives the book, because John is always making decisions based on what he thinks God is calling him to do. As far as Johnís beliefs go, some readers may disagree with his stance on alien life. He argues, and provides some support for the claim, that there is no indication in the Bible that denies the possibility of finding life on another planet.

The Evidence is the first book in a new series. As such, I expected that there would be some loose ends, but I was surprised at how unresolved the story felt when it ended. Boyd hits on many compelling ideas and writes in a very readable way, but donít expect a standalone epic. Hopefully, book two will provide some answers for those who chose to continue with this series, but, being more than 400 pages long, The Evidence will leave most readers who are not die-hard space enthusiasts exhausted and without any sense of completion. -- Devin B. Wieland, Christian Book Previews.com

Book Jacket:

Terrorism takes on a whole new dimension with the disconcerting discovery of alien life on Mars. With his marriage and his life on the line, everything he knows suddenly comes into question, not the least of which is his faith.

No amount of training could prepare a man for Spring 2011. As Navy Commander John Wells and his crew watch hopelessly from their space station perch, terrorists cripple the nation's capital and security systems. While the world looks to the Middle East for blame, sudden images off the plains of Mars offer a staggering alternative. With a sophisticated alien culture seemingly confirmed on the Red Planet, a disorganized U.S. government struggles to formulate their next steps. Caught in a web of politics, torn by his family commitments, and called to serve not only his country but his God, John Wells must take a giant step for mankind.