Title: The Book of Evie
Author: Jean Pascal
Genre(s): Christian Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Audio Book Narration: Kate Rudd
Length: 5 hrs. 26 mins.
Release Date: November 7, 2020
Available On: Amazon, Goodreads
Thank you, Jean Pascal, for offering a copy of your audiobook for reviewing!
Alecia found herself in the world of Gia, a living, breathing, sentient dimension. Gia begins to show her the story of a girl named Evie, and Alecia is able to experience Evie’s life as if she were part of the story. Alecia soon realizes there’s so much more to this adventure than she could ever imagine. During her journey, Alecia discovers the dark truth about the world around her. With the help of angels, she must ultimately face evil beyond anything she has ever encountered.
If It’s a Wonderful Life met Pixar’s Soul and mixed with Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness, you’d get pretty good idea of what Jean Pascal’s The Book of Evie is. Alecia’s journey alongside her angelic guide is strange—borderline bizarre. That’s not a bad thing though. The way Alicia witnesses Evie’s tale is unique to say the least. It’s as if she’s immersed inside an interactive storybook and had taken us with her. That is to say The Book of Evie’s production value deserves full marks. The scene transitions are imaginative, and Jean Pascal’s descriptions evoked vivid images throughout. I also applaud the narrator, Kate Rudd. I don’t know where Jean Pascal found her, but her gentle timber and fabulous acting skills made for a fantastic presentation. I also commend Jean’s use of third person omniscient. It’s easy to leave readers confused over which character is the focus in this point of view, but he avoided that pitfall pretty well. It was nothing stellar, but it could’ve easily been disastrous.
However, despite its good production value and setup, the story’s pacing problems did wither my investment a bit. Over half of the story consisted of two things. Alecia watching Evie’s growth and both Alecia and her angel’s confusion over their own circumstances. Seriously. Most of our leads’ exchanges equated to: “Why is this happening?” “I don’t know.” It felt like cheap story baiting. I understand curiosity as a tool to cultivate interest, but this went way too long here. Worst still, I felt the time I spent waiting for clarity could’ve been spent on Alecia’s development. I liked the angel character fine enough. Alecia herself, however, kinda bored me. Her frequent melodramatic outbursts and occasional bratty antics didn’t endear her to me either. It reached a point where I questioned Alecia’s presence. Meanwhile, all the development seemed to be spent on Evie. It kept me wondering why she wasn’t the lead and why I’m getting a secondhand account of her from an immature half-pint. Then the reveals changed things—a lot of things.
Now, the third act didn’t fully fix Alecia for me per se, but it did improve her likability. I also appreciated the additional answers once they arrived. Sadly, they just came a little too late to save my already dried investment. The latency also caused other unfortunate plot problems too. The delayed reveals forced the full scope of Jean’s worldbuilding into hiding. This resulted in rushed lore exposition dumps right before the ending. It’s a shame too. I liked parts of Jean’s lore, but because I didn’t experience what’s what and how they work through the story sooner, it dulled the payoff The Book of Evie could’ve had.
As for family friendliness, the book is pretty clean. The numerous exclamations of h*ll as well as God’s name being used in vain disappointed me though. Action sequences are nothing too graphic, but there is one non-human character who gets impaled through the neck, which might be too much for some readers. Sensual content is non-existent save for kisses between married couples. As for Biblical integrity, though, The Book of Evie tripped a little bit. Now, to its credit, the story’s messages are Biblically compatible for the most part. However, some lore choices somewhat misrepresented God’s sovereignty. I don’t think the author intended them at all. They’re subtle enough to be easily missed too, but they are there. I’d like to elaborate on them, but that’d be spoilers.
In conclusion, The Book of Evie is a nice audiobook. It’s great production value provided a smooth ride, and its plot is fairly original. Still, I can’t help but mourn some of its lost potential. If it revealed some things sooner, avoided subtle theological missteps, and made Alecia more interesting upfront, the book could’ve been much stronger. As is though, it does fine. Jean Pascal is clearly gifted in description, transition, and originality. If he could just master pacing and info distribution from here on out, I think he could go far. If you’re into slow-burn narratives, I think you’ll enjoy this. If you’re in the mood for an ‘out-there’ inter-dimensional journey, The Book of Evie will scratch your itch too. Just don’t think through the lore too hard and remind yourself you might be waiting a bit for it to really start kicking.
Total — 60%
Biblical Integrity: 6/10
Total — 77%
Overall Score — 69%
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