The 13th Tribe by Robert Liparulo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I reserved this book from our library’s ebook selections, I had no idea it was Christian fiction because the description didn’t mention it, not that it matters. I will read anything if it sounds interesting enough to me, which this did. This story is built on the premise that some of the Israelites who were cursed to wander the desert (The Exodus) became immortal. Over the years, a certain faction has done increasingly terroristic things to prove their love to God, choosing to focus on God’s wrath rather than God’s love. They cite instances in the bible where violence has been used at God’s command and believe that their salvation will come through bloodshed. They make plans to destroy a “sinner’s” city, believing the destruction will grant them God’s mercy and acceptance into His kingdom.
The main protagonist is a one-armed security specialist named Jagger. All genres have their “typical” character type, and Christian fiction in the thriller/intrigue/mystery vein is no different. From what I have read, the typical protagonist is someone who is struggling with their faith. It’s not that they don’t believe in God, but they don’t seem to really like God all that much after some life altering event--usually an untimely death of someone who’s close to them. Jagger is no different.
His faith in God has been shaken after the death of his friend (and partner) and his friend’s whole family. They were involved in an accident with a drunk driver that not only claimed the lives of his friends, but his arm as well. So, throughout the course of this book, Jagger has to examine his faith. Most of the time, by the end of a book, the protagonist has fully reconciled with God, but Jagger is a little different into that respect. Much of his trust in God is back, but he realizes that relationships, even one with God, take time to repair. But he’s made the first step in reconciling his faith.
The story itself was pretty fast paced. Things happened much quicker than I anticipated. From the moment the immortals invaded the safe haven located near Mt. Sinai, the characters were in constant motion, having very little time to do much else. This made the story seem to flow quickly, making it very involved and easy to get caught up in. I neglected my usual bed time to finish this book. And when I did finish, it was 1:30 in the morning.
I wasn't surprised when Owen turned out to be an immortal, too, but I was fairly surprised when Jagger turned out to be one as well. I'm not sure that I could really swallow that Jagger was so committed to leading a normal life that he basically created a new back story and committed to it until he forgot his old life as an immortal. You've been alive for 3500 years want me to believe that a few years of pretending to be someone else. I don't know if I can, but the idea behind that is fascinating even if I didn't think it was terribly believable, especially when the book tried to say that Jagger only aged because he did such a good job of creating false memories.
Being that this is Christian lit, there is a fair amount of talk about salvation and debate about God as a loving/hating figure, which may turn people off. And of course, all of the characters by default are Christians. I didn’t feel like this was too preachy, though, but others might feel it was. YMMV. I thought the scenes between Beth and Ben as they tried to prove God's true nature well done, but someone else may find the same thing tedious and unnecessary.
Overall, I thought it was a very interesting story. There were a few editing mistakes, but mostly the writing was very good. I'll definitely be on the lookout for the next book.
View all my reviews