Wonder (Books of Marvella #2) – Travis Thrasher

Wonder Travis Thrasher
Wonder by Travis Thrasher
Series: Books of Marvella #2
Published by NavPress on January 2015
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Young Adult
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four-stars

As the town of Appleton is rocked by the death of a teenager, the high school year begins under a dark shadow. Brandon continues to pursue Marvel while trying to discover what she believes will happen to her. It’s easy to fall more in love with her. It’s easy to forget she thinks God told her she will have to sacrifice herself to save others. But Brandon can’t forget about the shapeless evil that seems to watch him around corners and seep through the streets of his town.

Strange things start to occur to Brandon. He starts looking for clues about the dead student, thinking this might be related to whatever evil Marvel is talking about. He also continues to battle against the guys picking on a nerdy senior named Seth Belcher. Marvel falls in love with Brandon, and he truly accepts her faith even though he doesn’t understand what to make of it. Something is growing in the darkness. Something is coming. Will Brandon be able to stand up against the malice that draws ever closer? Will he be able to save Marvel from the horrors to come?

Things aren’t looking so great for Brandon. Life’s not been normal for a long time—unless you consider having an abusive alcoholic for a father to be a normal thing, unless you consider having an enigmatic maybe-not-quite-but-possibly-one-day girlfriend convinced that God’s told her she’s going to die soon a normal thing, unless you have a sorta-job at a record store that pays mostly in good friendships and good music…hey that one’s not too bad.

Like most of Travis’s novels, Wonder (and the Books of Marvella as a whole) is about relationships: relationships that are stretched by the supernatural, the implausible, and the God-directed. With Wonder, Travis Thrasher writes a novel of brokenness, hope, redemption, soul-searching, questioning, fighting, and learning. Thrasher captures the awkwardness, the potential, the challenges, and the glories of high school.

I think what struck me most was the natural evolution of Brandon’s relationship with Marvel. It would have been easy to make the development of their relationship into a Christian Dating PSA. While the novel is blunter about a Christian message than other Thrasher novels, the bluntness comes naturally through characters who are learning about each other and grappling with their spiritual and moral beliefs.

My only issue: very little major developments happen outside of Brandon and Marvel. Which means that the story is maybe a little bit too like life. There are developments and things are growing and intensifying and the mystery is becoming more and more complicated, but there are very few major payoffs, which I think is important in YA fiction. It seems that Wonder was written just to get onto the good stuff in books three and four.

Now don’t get me wrong, Wonder is a very good novel and I’m committed to the series to the end. Thrasher is going places with this story and he’s got me hooked. Nobody writes creepy-YA-coming-of-age fiction like Travis and nobody else manages to get me into the shoes of a character the way he does.

four-stars

About Travis Thrasher

Travis Thrasher

Bestselling author Travis Thrasher has written over 50 books, spanning genres in fiction, nonfiction and children’s literature. His inspirational stories have included collaborations with filmmakers, musicians, athletes, celebrities and pastors.

With the childhood goal of pursuing a writing career starting in third grade, Thrasher worked for 13 years at Tyndale House Publishers after graduating college. His experience working with as Author Relations Manager allowed him to understand the writing life as well as training him to work with a variety of personalities. This experience has proven to be invaluable with varied writing projects in the decade he’s been a full-time writer.

His novels are as diverse as the people he’s worked with, ranging from love stories to supernatural thrillers. Publishers Weekly said “Sara and Ethan are two of the most real and sensitive lovers to grace the genre” when reviewing his first novel, The Promise Remains. They also stated “Thrasher demonstrates a considerable talent for the horror genre” in a review for Isolation years later. His readers have enjoyed the unpredictability of his novels, whether it’s due to a unique style such as second person or a twist they never saw coming.

Thrasher’s storytelling ability has also allowed him to work with others on their books, from musicians like country musician Scotty McCreery and Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain to the Robertsons of Duck Dynasty. He has also penned novels based on songs such as Paper Angels with Jimmy Wayne and novelizations for films including Do You Believe? and God’s Not Dead 2. Upcoming projects continue to expand his talents, with projects including The Black Auxiliary about the lives of the 17 American black athletes who competed in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, and Baby Don’t Hurt Me about comedian Chris Kattan’s life and time on Saturday Night Live.

Travis lives with his wife and three young daughters in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.

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