Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.Psalm 42:5
Nyssa has recently placed her trust in God and throughout the novel, her newfound faith is shaken. Nyssa experiences fear and frustration and even expresses anger toward God. But she’s also determined to hold onto Him. There’s not a big, obvious resolution and “aha” moment. And, honestly, I think that’s refreshing, in some ways.
While I VERY MUCH appreciate faith-filled novels where I experience the Lord’s closeness alongside the characters, I also liked Barber’s realistic portrayal of our faith. Because there are seasons where it’s harder to hear the Lord’s voice, where our circumstances can motivate us to believe lies about our identity, about God’s goodness or about His power.
Where other books may show these moments, but typically resolve the conflict by novel’s end, The Exiles has a less tidy ending. There is a moment of resolution. It’s just much more subtle than the typical Christian novel, which feels true to life.
What I Liked
I ate up Fortune’s Fall in a day, and since that time, I had been eagerly awaiting the release of The Exiles. It was so exciting to dive back into Barger’s futuristic dystopia, while getting to know a new cast of characters (or rather, making better acquaintance with secondary characters from the first book).
- As mentioned above, I appreciated the spiritual themes and the lack of a tidy conclusion.
- I enjoyed reading about the political climate at Fortune’s Falls and the tensions arising there.
- As the title suggests, book two centers around the exiles, which makes sense, given that book one was inspired by the book of Daniel. While book two is less of a clear correspondence (but I think book three will look a bit more like book one), I like the social justice questions/implications that can be drawn from the subject of exiles. The Bible is very clear about God’s heart for social justice, which is a theme that American Christianity often neglects. The Exiles depicts the mistreatment of those exiled, which not only provides more context for the book of Daniel, but also brings to mind the treatment of the “alien and the foreigner” and other oppressed groups, in our own communities.
- There were some fun plot twists and developments, which I certainly won’t spoil, here.
- The continued dream-interpretation motif was engaging and I really liked that Nyssa was now interpreting through the lens of faith, not just psychology.
- There’s a teeny bit more romance in the book, and it was such a sweet, wholesome romance (more on that in the Romantic Content section).
- The ending! Without getting into spoilers, I just want to note that I am very eager to see how the trilogy will conclude.
I feel that Barger did a fantastic job of handling the romantic content in the novel. There is one kissing scene, but I feel that it was some really well, with a very strong emphasis on commitment. This is what I’m looking for more of with romantic plots/subplots.
This is a book that’s easy to recommend, and I actually can’t think of any reservations :). I would, however, highly suggest that this is read after book one.