Faith, Reason, and a Good Dose of Suspense

Andrew Klavan, whose fans include fellow novelist Stephen King, has written another lightning fast thriller — for teens, of all people. Klavan’s style reminds me of the TV series “24,” but his main man is armed with a weapon I’ve always wanted for Jack Bauer. Yes, Klavan’s young protagonist has faith in God.

The Long Way Home is the second book in Klavan’s Homelanders series. As the story goes, Charlie West is a high school student whose saga began in an ordinary American town. One night he went to bed and the next thing he can remember is waking up a hunted man. In the sequel, we catch up to Charlie as a terrorist group called “the Homelanders” is trying to kill him. He’s been convicted for a murder that he can’t remember, so police are hunting him too. As armed forces are closing in all around him, Charlie escapes and makes it back to his hometown. There, he’s the top story in the news. His best buddies and girlfriend figure out that he’s hiding in a spooky old abandoned mansion, so they come to help him in his quest for truth, justice, and reunion with his family.

Like a number of parents who reviewed this book in cyberspace, I read The Long Way Home to see if it would be good for the young.   Like other adults, I found myself chasing Klavan’s 18-year-old fugitive to the end of the book, where I ended up wanting more… and now I can’t wait for the third in this series.

Andrew Klavan, an atheist who converted to Christianity, knows what young people face in the war for their souls. Like the writers of “24,” Klavan masterfully illustrates the fact that each individual somehow shapes society and, ultimately, history. However, Klavan shows that faith illumines reason.


When John Nolte of interviewed Klavan about the first Homelanders book, The Last Thing I Remember, Klavan said:

[Y]ou can’t hammer people with your point of view, so I decided, okay, I just want to change the rules of the game, that’s all. Instead of the usual alienated teen, or the wimpy guy who finds a magical sword, I’m gonna make my hero the kind of hero I like to read about: a manly guy who loves America, believes in God and is ready to fight for liberty if he has to. I thought, in the current climate, that alone would be revolutionary.

So here you have it: In the darkness of night and the light of day, Charlie West lives by Christ’s commandment “Be not afraid.” Along the dangerous way to finding out if he’s really guilty or clearing his name, along the way to exposing the Homelanders, Charlie discovers that almost everyone he knows is involved in the plot. His history teacher, Mr. Sherman, came forward as a witness in the murder case. But Charlie stood up to Sherman when he preached that boldly illogical yet widely-believed claim that there is no absolute truth. In every fight with the terrorist thugs, Charlie relies on the training of his Karate instructor Sensei Mike, a war hero who teaches that lethal force is the last resort. But what will the black-belted mentor do when Charlie goes to him for answers? To everyone’s surprise, Charlie’s geekiest buddy, Josh, proves himself the bravest friend. Then there’s the pure love between Charlie and Beth — reason for the book’s most terrifying and heart-pounding scene…

Move over Harry Potter, young wizard. Step aside Edward Cullen, enchanting vampire. Charlie West the Christian is here to stay and save the day.

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