I love to request free books to review. In fact I subscribe to three book review sites: Book Crash, Book Rooster and The Bookplex, but sometimes authors and the people they work with contact me for a review. Such was the case of Nikki Arana‘s book The Next Target: A Novel.
Here is the description that made me want to write this book review:
It only took one bullet. Austia’s friend and student fell dead. And with a glimpse of a newspaper headline, the young and recently widowed Austia knows more about what happened than the police. From that fatal night, Austia’s secret outreach to the U.S. Muslim community—in the guise of English language classes—becomes a target. Local Muslim extremists set their sights on ending her ministry and even her life. And the women she ministers to will be next.
A thick web of deceit closes in around Austia, and her circle of friends becomes smaller by the day, even as she finally opens herself to the idea of falling in love again. But who can she trust? Facing a spiritual battle that proves more treacherous than it at first seemed, Austia’s convictions are tested to their limits and her heart becomes primed for breaking. She must ask herself: how much she will risk to stay true to her herself, her faith, and to the lives of the women she serves?
The Next Target is a well written suspense that brought to mind Frank Peretti’s Piercing the Darkness, minus the demons and angels. The author’s use of dark and light imagery and the feeling that Hussein is able to know things without being told gave the distinct feeling that this was a story of spiritual warfare.
Wonderfully frustrating cases of “just missing” the one who could make everything work out and misunderstandings regarding a person’s real intentions made me want to continue reading just to see if/when things would be cleared up. The author did a great job showing how what may seem like a bad thing was actually God making things work out the way they needed to.
In general, prologues are not necessary and this one is no exception. It’s beautifully written, but does nothing to move the story along.
Also, this fantastic story is marred by repetitive back story info dumps. It was almost as if the author didn’t trust that the reader would either remember important details or would miss the point of a scene.