Wow, just wow. I wrote a review for Take 3 (under the name Avid Reader. I gave it 2 stars) and said I was getting a little turned off by this series, but now I am just shocked at how far she is going with it. And there is another entire series continuing this story. I am farely certain I will not be reading it. I know that my opinion is vastly different from most people about this series, but so be it. I loved the 3 Baxter Series, really and truly. I still love them and they are all on my book shelves and I still recommend them to other people. I don't know what happened, but for me, this series went from only ok to bad to almost unreadable.
My thoughts on this book:
1. Every individual character storyline in this series is extreme. Meaning, every character is either a God fearing, Bible quoting, praying every other sentence Christian or a drug using, elicit sex having, anti-anything God heathen. I was so sick of it by the end of the book, I was literally shaking my head while I was reading. I consider myself a faithful person, but I found it almost impossible to relate to any character because of this.
2. I was personally offended at how she handled the Andi story line. I don't even know if I can explain properly. This part of the story was just so completely off for me, I was skimming the parts about her. This has a lot to do with my first point, but I am so disappointed. She had questions about her faith because her friend died. This could happen to anyone, but to have her completely spiral out of control and to keep pointing out that it is because she had questions about God is just crazy. A person can have questions about God and not turn to drinking, random sex, lying, and just all around insanity. I was so turned off at the non-stop mentioning of her "lost innocence" and that her "purity" was gone. She could still be a good person! She could even still be an actress! I was so angry at every one talking like her life was ruined and how she missed her opportunity because she became pregnant. The conversation with her dad about how he wasn't around to "save" her or keep this from happening was just too much. When Bailey was auditioning for the movie, they mentioned that she had an innocence that can't be faked and Keith Ellison felt sad and depressed thinking about Andi and how she will never be innocent again. Can you really just look at someone and tell that they are a virgin or not? In several different parts of the book Andi was described as having a childlike face and young features when her pregnancy was discussed. It was mentioned several times that she looked way to young or childlike to be pregnant. But, then somehow she doesn't look innocent anymore.
Also, at the movie premiere for The Last Letter, Andi decided not to go. Kingsbury does write that she is do any day and that was plenty of reason for her not to go. But no, she just had to go on and say that Andi decided not to go because she did not want to hurt her father's or her father's production company's image. She did did not want the paparazzi to get pictures of Keith's unmarried pregnant daughter. These people are supposed to be christians! They are portrayed as horrible hypocrites. I completely appreciate the message of waiting till marriage to have sex. Kingsbury delivered that message great in the Baxter book with Dayne and Katy. I don't know what happened here, but Andi is portrayed as a problem that they have to deal with. This part was just awful.
But for me, the real kicker, was when she went into labor. It was perfectly described at the house, and at the hospital up until she started pushing. Her mom said something about the pain, and Andi thoughts are the pain of labor and pushing is nothing compared to the pain of losing her innocence. Really? I have had 2 babies and if there wasn't only about 5 pages left in the book, I would have slammed it shut and thrown it away.
I will say that I, too, am 100% anti-abortion and I actually appreciated that she kept the baby and put him up for adoption. I was also touched at the very end at the hostpital at how hard it must be to physically give your baby up. (But that did not remotely redeem the rest of her story)
3. Bailey: I have read several people mention that the Flannigan's seem to mirror the Kingsbury Family and I tend to agree. This makes Bailey's story far too arrogant for me. She is almost perfect. Her worst "problems" extend to her staying in her relationship with Tim too long or not being able to figure out Cody or deciding between Cody or Brandon Paul.
4. Cody: Desperately needs a backbone. It's really embarrassing at this point. It have been almost 6 or 7 books now with the repeating theme of "I love Bailey, but she deserves better then me." This would have been ok for a bit, but nobody would be attracted to someone with that degree of self-pity. It is not romantic. It is sad(as in pathetic).
5. Cody and Bailey's relationship: Kingsbury is dragging this storyline out far too long. AND, there is another ENTIRE SERIES coming! I started out intrested in them, then got frustrated because at some point they need some closure, whether they got together or not. Then, (in Take 3) FINALLY, they got together. They were open and told each other they had feelings about each other. Only to start this book and no, once again, dragging out. The thought that there is 3 or 4 more books for this specific part of the story to go on and on is just daunting.
6. Unlocked: The movie portayed in the this book. As I was reading this book, I knew that Kingsbury had already had a book out that she had written titled "Unlocked" which is based on the story from this book. This got so incredibly arrogant that I truly struggled to read it. There were several references to the Unlocked story saying how it is such a great story, so inspiring, has one of the best christian messages. Several of the characters mention that it is one of the best stories they have ever read. It was just really unnerving to me, that Kingsbury was writing this book and describing another book that she wrote with such high regard. It might be a good story (I don't know, I haven't read it), but I really couldn't understand her talking about her own work like that. Truly arrogant, in my opinion.
To me this series is almost a joke. This isn't a wonderful story of faith in everyday life. This is almost an obsession with God series. I don't know anyone who, in normal conversation, prays together 3 times in about a 10 minute period. Or shouts across a court room to "pray, pray to Jesus!". That doesn't bring people to Jesus, that makes you seem crazy. No matter what you are saying, if you are shouting across a room of people that don't want to hear you, you push them away. I am expecting people to disagree with my assesment, but I really feel this strongly about it. Kingsbury has an awesome platform to bring God and faith to people and she has done it wonderfully time and time again. Even Now and Ever After are not only 2 of my favorite books by her, they are 2 of my favorite books of all time. It is unfortunate, but this series feels like being strapped down and force fed faith whether you like it or not.
If you have made it through my entire review, thank you and I hope you look elsewhere for Christian Fiction. (Even other Karen Kingsbury books are a lot better)