Publisher: Treehouse Publishing Group
Date of publication: November 6th, 2018
Genre: General Fiction
A Light in the Desert traces the story of a lonely pregnant teenager, a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper who, as he descends into the throes of mental illness, latches onto the girl, and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. The Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst’s, a deadly act of sabotage. Their lives are thrown into turmoil when local and state police, FBI investigators, and a horde of reporters make camp by the twisted wreckage of the Sunset Limited. As the search for the saboteurs continues, the authorities find more questions than answers. The girl mysteriously vanishes, the assassin struggles to maintain his sanity, and a child is about to be born in the wilderness.
Jason Ramm is a former Special Forces sniper/mercenary who is battling a mental illness called the Messiah complex and PTSD. Wanting to forget the horrors of the Vietnam War, Jason retreats to the Arizona desert. Going off of his medications, Jason slides into his mental illness. His only human contact is an Armageddon cult called the Children of Light, the owner of the general store he shops at and a disfigured, pregnant teenager. What will happen when he loses his hold on sanity?
Kelly Garcia is a pregnant teenager who suffers from Moebius syndrome. Her mother, embarrassed to have a disfigured child, hides her from the world. After Kelly’s stepfather impregnates her, Kelly is sent to live with the Children of Light. It is there that she meets Jason and her life changes in ways that she wouldn’t have even guessed.
Billy James is the son of the owner of the only gas station in town. His father had abused Billy until his mother left. The years of abuse that Billy endured at his father’s hands had warped him. He is now an amoral, sociopath who is willing to do whatever it takes to leave his message. Billy plans an event that he hopes will cause mass hysteria and death.
When I started reading A Light in the Desert, I wasn’t expecting to get as involved in the plotline as I did. From the beginning, this book sucked me in. There was no tiptoeing around Jason, Kelly, and Billy’s issues. The author plunged me right into it. Usually, I would be “No, give me a chance to get used to the book!!” But in this case, I am glad she did it.
The significant plotlines were Jason, Kelly, and Billy. Jason’s plotline was vividly written, and my heart broke reading those scenes. Kelly’s plotline broke my heart too. Put it this way; I wanted to boot her mother and stepfather through the window. Billy’s plotline was as tragic as Kelly and Jason’s. Yes, I thought Billy’s plotline was tragic.
I didn’t add the plotline of the train crash in with the major plotlines. I felt that it was overshadowed a little by everything that was going on with Kelly and Jason.
There was a significant plot twist that came at the end of the book. When it happened, I went “No way.” But, after reading the book, I can see the hints that were dropped. With everything else that was happening, I didn’t pick up on it.
I did feel bad for Jason. His PTSD issues were laid out within the first chapter. His slide into the Messiah complex was subtle. I won’t lie, I was surprised when he told Kelly what was happening to him and what the medicine was for. I was also surprised by the twist in his plotline. I didn’t see it coming, and I was blindsided. I had to take a break from reading the book to process that information.
I also felt awful for Kelly. What she went through in her short life broke my heart. I wanted to hug her and take her away from that thing that called herself her mother. I also wanted to punch her stepfather. Despite the abuse that she was put through, she was still a sweet girl.
As weird as this is going to sound, I also pitied Billy. The abuse by his father shaped Billy into what he became. I pitied him because all he knew was violence and that shaped him. I pitied him because he fell through the cracks in the system. But, because I pitied him, it didn’t mean that I liked him. He was an evil person who deserved what he got.
I enjoyed reading A Light in the Desert. It was a compelling read. The author did a fantastic job of tackling some serious issues (PTSD, mental illness, child abuse). I had never heard of the Messiah complex or Moebius syndrome before this book. While the book explained what they were, I ended up googling them for myself.
There is also a slight religious undertone when reading the book. The Children of Light are a fanatical Pentecostal sect. They were waiting for Armageddon. The characters in the Children of Light play a significant role in Kelly and Jason’s story towards the end of the book. The author was able to get their point across without being preachy, which is something that I loved.
I did have a bit of an issue deciding what genre this book fit well with. There is action, there is religion, and there is suspense. I would have to say that it fits well in all those categories.
As much as I liked the book, I wasn’t a fan of the ending. First off, there is the twist in the plot. Like I mentioned above, I didn’t see it coming, and it took me by surprise. I felt that Jason’s plotline didn’t get resolved. I did like how the author chose to end Kelly’s storyline. I thought that it was perfect for her. And Billy’s, well, as I said, he got what he deserved.
The epilogue was poignant. I did ask myself the same question that Kate asked Cooper. Why?
I would give A Light in the Desert an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.
I would reread A Light in the Desert. I would reccomend this book to family and friends.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**
I would like to thank the author for allowing me to read and review A Light in the Desert.
Have you read A Light in the Desert?
What are your thoughts on it?
Let me know!!