Okay, this is just too weird. June’s CSFF Blog Tour selection is titled, Vanish, and my review copy vanished somewhere in the bowels of the US Postal Service.
As if it never existed…
So, in lieu of a review of Vanish, I will do a meta-review, a survey of what everybody else is saying about the book, looking for common themes and other patterns. Kind of like what the “ghost hunters” do on TV, gathering a lot of indirect evidence but never actually coming in contact with the ectoplasm.
Today, we’ll focus on that wellspring of malevolent energy, Amazon.com, which makes it fiendishly simple for the unwashed consumer to publish a review of any book in Amazon’s inventory, disproportionately modifying its perceived quality, popularity, and likelihood of turning up in a search. The power! THE POWER!
Okay, pronoun pack and electromagnetic syntax trap are charged up. Doing a quick search for “Vanish” on the Amazon books page brings up Mr. Pawlik’s opus in position number 2, beneath an identically-titled, but totally unrelated book by Tess Gerritsen. Not bad.
It’s in stock. You can get it for $2 off and free “super saver shipping” if you act now! Also comes in a Kindle version for those of you on the cutting edge of lex-tech. The Amazon review rating is currently 4.5 out of 5 stars, with 18 customer reviews listed. Dare I click on the customer review link?
Yes, I dare!
Most everybody gave a very brief synopsis of the story and seemed reluctant to tell too much about it and spoil the surprise. Mysterious cloud envelops Chicago area, and a few people regain consciousness afterward to discover everyone else has disappeared, but a creepy presence persists and follows the non-Vanished as they search for the Vanished.
11 of the 18 reviewers liked the book enough to give it a full 5-star rating. They enjoyed the suspense, and most thought it was a “page turner” that hooked them immediately and kept them reading until the end. They drew some parallels between this book and films such as I Am Legend and Twilight Zone, as well as novels by Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King.
My favorite review comment: “It combines the fast read and terror of Steven (sic) King and the style of the Left Behind series.” I can’t say I’ve ever fully understood the Christian audience’s attraction to Stephen King, but there it is again, like those little glowing orbs in haunted house photography.
A couple of reviewers noted that this book won the 2006 Operation First Novel Contest sponsored by the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, which is a spoiler, if you think about it.
Negative comments were few. One reviewer complained about an ambigous ending, another felt there was too much “padding” at the beginning. A commenter who had apparently been surfing reviews on his Kindle was upset that the author and/or publisher seemed to be concealing the Christian themes of the story, but a tab on the cover identifies the story as a Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer’s Guild selection, and it’s published by Tyndale House. Hmm. The professional editorial review from Publishers Weekly asserts the story’s prose is “flat” and character development “thin.”
Amazon notes that customers frequently buy this book together with The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel (Oprah Book Club #62) by David Wroblewski, which is basically Hamlet set in Wisconsin. Yet another unsolved mystery.
Tomorrow, I’ll cast my net farther into the ghostly aether of the internet, in an attempt to snare electromagnetic messages about Vanish…from Beyond! Until then, please peruse the plethora of paranormal postings by the perceptive practitioners of the CSFF Blog Tour:
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Todd Michael Greene
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Rachel Starr Thomson