Book Review: The Methuselah Project by Rick Barry

The Methuselah Project

The Methuselah Project by Rick Barry (Kregel Publications, October 2015)

Nazi scientists started many experiments. One never ended.

Roger Greene is a war hero. Raised in an orphanage, the only birthright he knows is the feeling that he was born to fly. Flying against the Axis Powers in World War II is everything he always dreamed–until the day he’s shot down and lands in the hands of the enemy.

When Allied bombs destroy both his prison and the mad genius experimenting on POWs, Roger survives. Within hours, his wounds miraculously heal, thanks to those experiments. The Methuselah Project is a success–but this ace is still not free. Seventy years later, Roger hasn’t aged a day, but he has nearly gone insane. This isn’t Captain America–just a lousy existence only made passable by a newfound faith. The Bible provides the only reliable anchor for Roger’s sanity and his soul. When he finally escapes, there’s no angelic promise or personal prophecy of deliverance, just confusion. It’s 2015–and the world has become an unrecognizable place.

Katherine Mueller–crack shot, genius, and real Southern Belle–offers to help him find his way home. Can he convince her of the truth of his crazy story? Can he continue to trust her when he finds out she works for the very organization he’s trying to flee?

Thrown right into pulse-pounding action from the first page, readers will find themselves transported back in time to a believable, full-colored past, and then catapulted into the present once more. The historical back-and-forth adds a constantly moving element of suspense to keep readers on the edge of their seats.


REVIEW:

Anyone reading this book review likely knows that historical fiction set during World War Two is one of my favorite genres and time periods with which to read. I rarely pass a chance to read a novel set during the Second World War, so when an author friend of mine posted a link to Rick Barry’s upcoming World War Two book I instantly went to the publisher’s website to request a review copy. Although The Methuselah Project deviates the typical historical romances on my bookshelves, I am beyond excited for this novel to claim a spot amongst other fabulous World War Two fiction authors.

People are creatures of habit–including readers who tend to choose novels based on favorite genres of authors–but sometimes it is beneficial to break away from what we know best. In my case, although I am well versed in World War Two romance fiction, I am new to Barry’s twist on the subject via science and super-hero fiction. Keep in mind that The Methuselah Project is not another Captain America story, but for the purpose of comparison the base storyline of both the book and movie are good indicators of what one will find in Barry’s novel. If nothing anything (although it’s not the case here), I am glad that I read The Methuselah Project because this book brought me a vastly different outlook on World War Two, soldiers and veterans, and historical significance. I love that Barry approached this time period with a different outlook and dared to write a story that goes beyond the typical battle grounds, settings, themes, romance, and possible after effects of war.

The Methuselah Project is a blend of the historical, contemporary, and science fiction genres. Based on those categorizations alone I would not have chosen to read this book. Based on the recommendation of an author friend, I was willing to put aside the fact that I don’t like science fiction in order to read this book. Barry’s novel demonstrates how and why categorizing books by genre can be both helpful and detrimental to readers because I, for one, found myself captivated by The Methuselah Project despite the odd (to me) scientific aspects of the story. The author blends historical research with scientific facts throughout the book, never once leaning too far towards either science or history so that readers will not be alienated by a subject they do not care for.

Roger Greene and Katherine Mueller, the hero and heroine of The Methuselah Project, drive this story through their unique experiences and challenges of the times they live in. Barry’s hero flew off the page (what a pun to use for a pilot, right?) with his 1940’s lingo, daring feats of flying, and strong character. I enjoyed Roger’s character because he was a hero in every sense of the word–not necessarily a prince from a Disney movie, but a real-life hero and gentleman who fought in a war and subsequently fought to stay alive through the brutal circumstances. For Greene’s counterpart, Barry wrote southern-belle Katherine Mueller, who fills her day as a freelance editor and Kadet in a secret organization. The Methuselah Project‘s heroine was one of my least favorite aspects of this novel. I found Katherine harsh, naive, and obstinate; her prickly personality and judgmental attitude made it hard for me to warm up to her.

The Methuselah Project utilizes dual storylines to tell Roger and Katherine’s stories. The pacing of Barry’s book flows quickly, and for the first quarter of the book I found myself challenged to swap time periods–and all that goes with it, such as dialect, word choice, etc.–and remember that Katherine and Roger experienced vast differences between them. Additionally, the chapters that focused on Roger jumped decades of his captivity, which also jarred me as I mentally refocused on what Roger would have known as a prisoner of war. I realize that Barry could not literally give his readers a day-by-day account of Roger’s experiences in prison; however, the time hopping made empathizing with the character a challenge because I constantly had to focus on setting and time period rather than on Roger. Focusing solely on the characters became easier once Roger and Katherine’s are brought together. In the spirit of a timely and quick ending, Barry finishes Methuselah Project in an action-packed adventure, but the fast pace brings a sense of unbelievability to his novel. I would have preferred a longer novel focused on authentic situations to end this book.

I enjoyed The Methuselah Project for its stellar story filled with historical research. Despite the aspects of the story that I didn’t care for, I still would recommend this book to readers because the merits of this novel strongly outweigh any pacing or character issues. I would especially like to commend Barry for writing a Christian historical novel that I believe is well suited for boys and men. While women, such as myself, surely will enjoy the book, The Methuselah Project is a novel that I would hand out to men of any age in a heartbeat.

Rating: 3.5 stars


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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By God’s grace, I’m the author of the novels The Methuselah Project, Gunner’s RunKiriath’s Quest, and over 200 articles and fiction stories. In addition to being a writer and World War II buff, my main role is Director of Church Planting ministries at BIEM, a Christian ministry active in Eastern Europe. I hold a degree in foreign languages, speak Russian, and every summer I assist with children’s camps in Eastern Europe. I live near Indianapolis with my wonderful wife Pam. Visit me at facebook.com/AuthorRickBarry, or on Twitter (@WriterRickBarry).

 

 

 

Book Review: Catch of a Lifetime by Candee Fick

Catch of a LifetimeCatch of a Lifetime by Candee Fick (Bling! Romance, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, November 2015)

Can she forget the fumbles of her past and open her heart to love?

He breathes football. She shudders at the very mention of the sport.

After a tragedy involving a football player destroyed her family, athletic trainer and graduate student Cassie moves across the country looking for a fresh start, but a change in financial aid lands her in the middle of her worst nightmare.

Meanwhile, rookie coach Reed worries his dream career will slip away as injuries plague his players and his star receiver teeters on the brink of ineligibility. As the two work together to salvage the season, sparks fly, and Reed must eventually choose between the game and the woman he loves.

REVIEW: 

My family enjoys sports; from Sunday afternoons watching football to games of wiffle ball in the background, competitive athletics have always been an important part of the Deshaieses lifestyle. Even though I am not one of athletically inclined members of my family, I have spent many years cheering on my brothers while they pitched for their teams or enthusiastically waiting for the Steelers to score touchdowns. I might not play sports…but I know my games.

Candee Fick, a Genesis Award winning author, provides a way for those of us who love sports to experience the thrill of the game and all that goes with it in Catch of a Lifetime. This football based novel, a contemporary fiction book released by Bling! Romance, pulled me into the world of college football unlike any other novel I have read. Catch of a Lifetime first caught my attention when I searched through Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas’s website a few months back. I like watching football, and historical fiction was overtaking my to-be-read list, so I thought this novel could give me a good dose of contemporary fiction. Fick’s novel was so much more than good contemporary fiction–Catch of a Lifetime is a wonderful story filled with themes of forgiveness, integrity, and acceptance, and sprinkled with faith, family, and authentic romance. This novel has everything I look for in contemporary fiction, and after reading Catch of a Lifetime I am truly excited to see what other contemporary stories Fick will follow her debut novel with.

Writers are told to “write what you know” because authenticity comes from true life experiences. Fick comes from a football family, so Catch of a Lifetime is therefore infused with not only facts about the game, but the emotions, thoughts, cares, and concerns of those who play and participate in this American sport. Through this authenticity of someone who is a wife to a coach and a mother to a player Fick’s characters are able to demonstrate the unique challenges and joys that come with football. While my family is more baseball-oriented than football-oriented, Fick’s writing is so genuine that I could immediately empathize with Reed and Cassie.

In being drawn into Reed and Cassie’s world, Fick brought me back to my undergraduate college days–just one of the many seasons of my life in which I spent time at baseball fields, but also many wonderful hours on campus in classrooms and with friends. I loved my time in college and often wish I could go back to those days where homework, friends, and a part time job filled my days. I am not so niave that I believe going back in time would be a good thing, but I did so enjoy Catch of a Lifetime for returning me to a college setting where I could imagine wandering the campus and filling my mind with all things related to college studies. The dialog, descriptions, and character interactions were realistic and believable–I could easily visualize the relationships, activities, and goals of the characters happening on any college campus today.

Fick is a talented author who wields words that read as authentically as the life we live in today’s modern world. Her gift at creating contemporary stories that mirror the challenges and joys we experience not only bring new worlds to life (for those of you who, for example, do not know football), but also share perspectives and lessons for those who have shared Fick’s experiences. Catch of a Lifetime brims with characters who share the Christian faith but remain honest in the struggles that we all face. Fick infuses her characters’ reactions to the challenges of the modern world with subtle Christian lessons that adults, both younger and older, can apply to their own lives. This quiet inclusion of Christian princples shares the viewpoint of a faith that teaches respect, love, and honesty; Fick’s characters are not perfect, but their determination to live with this Christian faith is a way for readers to take in these principles without alienating themselves from their peers.

Catch of a Lifetime has quickly become not only one of my favorite books of 2015, but of all time. I recommend this book for teenagers (ages 16+) and adults, both male and female, who enjoy contemporary sports fiction from the general and CBA markets. For a novel similar to Fick’s debut fiction story, look into Sally Bradley’s Kept.

Rating: 5 stars


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Candee FickAuthor of inspirational romance, non-fiction, and devotionals. Candee is married to a high school football coach and is the mother of three, including a child with special needs (thus providing inspiration for her first two non-fiction titles).

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a Double Finalist/Winner in the 2014 ACFW Genesis contest in the short novel category. Her debut novel, Catch of a Lifetime,  released in November 2015 from Bling! Romance.

Connect with Candee on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, and her website.