Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.
Christian Dystopian Science Fiction
Path of Angels, by Dawn Witzke, was released in 2017. The book is part of the Underground series, not to be confused with the Path of Angels series by Patricia Josephine. What are the pros and cons of Path of Angels? Who could and should consider reading this Christian dystopian book?
Strengths of the Book
There is basic character development for the main characters, with character sketches for the background characters and enemies. However, the “bad guys” and “bad girl” are not all nor entirely evil.
Witzke’s book, along with Karina Fabian’s work, belongs to a niche many don’t know exists—Christian science fiction, much but not all of which is Catholic. Some works in the Christian fiction genre are as dystopian as this, like Storms of Transformation series by Daniella Bova. They are typically rated PG or PG-13 on both sex and violence, though some works hit R.
Path of Angels is in the low PG-13 level. Even the brigands’ violence and evil villain Teil’s language is PG to PG-13. However, there is one near-rape in the book. At least the girl is proactive in defending herself instead of the classic “rescued in time by someone else, often the hero”. Nor is she the modern trope superwoman able to kick butt even if it is a well-muscled thug with a weapon in hand. Aadi’s ways “out” of bad situations are what people really could or would do.
The reveal toward the end of the book is a surprise. While lightly hinted, it is nowhere near the works that telegraph the ending by the halfway mark.
You get enough exposition at the start to understand why religion was outlawed in this dystopia and how it survives in secret without chapters of backstory. And unlike some Christian fiction works, it touches on the faith of the main characters without turning into heavy message fiction, as well. Well balanced on both sides.
The book clearly sets up the potential for a sequel without the annoying as heck cliffhangers some authors create in the hope of a sequel that may never come. If it ends up as a stand-alone book, it still stands on its own merit and self-contained story.
Weaknesses of the Book
One of the tropes this book fell for was the tattoo to distinguish who is a member of a secret organization. If you can be killed for being a Christian, tattooing your membership in a Christian underground is stupid when there is a police state sending armed social justice warriors investigating every potential indication of religious belief who have the authority to kill.
The story moves quickly, though the coincidences and conveniences that propel it somewhat affect believability.
How do you know it’s a dystopia? Mandatory service for several years if you want to have a ration card later, half the people are back to foot or horseback riding, and you get your rationed items at the government depot. This is every trope per TV tropes. It isn’t totally post-apocalyptic, since Texas is a rumored distant better place and computers are rumored to exist in some upscale areas. And apparently, our GM and Subaru plants are still in production though almost no one owns a car.
How do we show the world has changed? Same names, new, modern spelling!
Path of Angels is suitable for young adults down to middle school. While it is written as Christian fiction and specifically as Catholic fiction, you don’t need to be Catholic to enjoy the book. Four stars.