A few months ago, Christian Dystopian and Historical Fantasy YA author Nadine Brandes announced that a box set of her debut series, Out of Time, had just released and was available on sale for Kindle for a limited time. Having heard others in the Christian YA community rave about Brandes’s recent releases, Romanov and Fawkes, I jumped at the opportunity to see if her work lives up to the hype. I’m happy to say that Nadine Brandes won over another binge-reader with the first book I’ve read by her, A Time to Die.
What I Liked:
From the moment I started reading, Brandes’s writing transported me to Parvin’s world: a futuristic United States after a terrorist attack demolished and divided the country. From the dialogue to the descriptions to the world-building, Brandes hones her unique style and crafts an enthralling and addictive dystopian. Lovers of the genre who are looking for a similar read after The Hunger Games trilogy will love this book.
Parvin’s Relatable Characterization
Parvin, our main character, struggles with the burden that she has not lived her life to serve a purpose while staring her proposed time to die in the face. As a dreamer who strives to make my work matter to the world, I wholeheartedly felt her struggle. While a Christian, Parvin often questions God on her journey when difficult times rain down on her, through she never loses her faith. This aspect highly resonated with me, as I’ve struggled throughout 2019. Overall, I found Parvin to be an excellent role model for Christian teens and adults alike.
To say I was blown away by the well-thought-out and unique world Brandes created would be an understatement. From the high-tech gadgets with amazing, purpose-serving features, to an intricate and believable government system, to free-range cults, it is apparent the author put time and effort into making the setting shine. This is one of my favorite dystopian worlds I’ve read about so far.
Along with Parvin, readers are introduced to a motley crew of other characters, including her brother, parents, a few friends, a mentor of sorts, and a cult of plant worshipers, among others. Every character Parvin encounters on her journey jumps from the pages and contributes to the progression of the story.
While A Time to Die is an overtly Christian novel, its messages about seeking purpose in life could be inspiring to all readers. Personally, the Christian messages, such as talking to and listening for God’s voice, were moving and prompted me to try that more in my own life. Non-Christian readers may find the Christian messages to be too frequent for their taste, but if you’re looking for a clean, God-centered dystopian alternative to what mainstream YA offers, this is a perfect choice.
What I Disliked:
Graphically Depicted Violence/Injuries
As I stated above, Brandes is a gifted descriptive writer, and this shows well when she wrote the violent scenes involving the cult, and the injuries Parvin and her group endure. Some readers complain that The Hunger Games has graphic violence, but this novel actually made me squirm more; however, I am squeamish, so I don’t mark it as a fault of the novel, just my taste.
Overall, A Time to Die is a solid first installment of the Out of Time series, and I am excited to continue on reading the series soon!
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
If you’re already a fan of Nadine Brandes, what is your favorite book by her? What other Christian or Clean Dystopian reads do you recommend?
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.