Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.
Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties in to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.
But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined…
First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Simon Pulse for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.
I’m not a religious person and I highly doubt I will ever become one. I think that this is one of the reasons why cults interest me so much, they explore different kinds of religions, mashing them up and manipulating people to believe complete nonsense and stealing their hope and faith, some of the last things they have to offer. The idea of cults in this story is a lot different from the ones seen in documentaries and that’s what first interested me. I was looking for something different and well explained however, This Side of Salvation isn’t that novel, it lacks depth and a solid back story but I liked it enough. It also doesn’t hurt that the cover is fucking beautiful.
The Rush pretty much takes up the whole story and although I loved reading about it, it makes everything else suck. All of the relationships between David and a family member is floppy and not well done. What makes it all worse is the relationship they all had with John is barely discussed until the very end. There’s no story there, there’s no emotion, and I felt like he was just shoved into the story to get the book to go in the direction of grief. Moreover, I didn’t like the style this book is written in with the past/present tense. Not a fuck was given about the past because all it told me was how the romance between David and Bailey came to be and odd David’s family started acting after John’s death.
This Side of Salvation has a really great idea. I’ve only read one other cult like novel and I didn’t enjoy it at all. I liked how Smith-Ready went with this and made it as mellow as possible but still keeping the parts after the Rush really interesting. It’s not the typical cult where people are completely cut off from the world, there’s a few children brides, and some gore/abuse. David, for the most part, is a strong character because he’s really flawed yet he tries his hardest to be a good person and readers get to see him grow as a person. I loved how willing he is to give up everything he’s worked so hard for to become closer to something he believes in even if it’s just for the sake of his parents. The religion is really kept to a minimum throughout This Side of Salvation, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by it and I actually learned a few things about it.
Anyway you look at this, it’s still disappointing how This Side of Salvation is executed. I mean, I’m glad that it’s not the typical cult like stuff and the first chapter is really well done, it’s exciting and gritty and had my attention instantly but the story has huge holes in some crucial places like the characters themselves and their relationships. Nonetheless, I would still recommend this, mostly to anyone who’s looking for something a bit different to read about and don’t mind some boring characters.
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