Into the Book

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The day that Travis Hamilton was arrested, he never thought he’d be accused of murder. Let alone be sentenced to ten years of hard physical labor in the Dead Mines, from which few return alive. Even then, he never would know the measure of torture that mining could be. Shoved in a hostile environment, where men are more animal than human, and none interested in making friends, Travis is faced with a monumental choice of whether it is best to give in to the demands of a sinister enemy, or to die without compromise.

Ross Hamilton, just a humble rancher, is certainly no detective, but when his brother is falsely accused or murder, he leaves the ranch hanging, and throws it all on the line to find out what really happened that night—and who really shot the man his brother was accused to murdering.

The tests and trials that come to them in but a few weeks, are beyond what they could have ever thought to have faced, but deep down inside, they know that the only way to survive through the mystery, with scattered enemies, and sinister cover up, is to never back down. Never compromise.

 Never.

Truthfully speaking, I am not one to typically read a western. In fact the only westerns I really like are Cormac McCarthy, but this book has made a huge exception for me.

Never, the second novel from the mind of J. Grace Pennington, is not just a western. It’s not even just a mystery—the book is a morality tale, painted for us against the backdrop of the old west, and seasoned with a plot that keeps you guessing. The characters that populate this tale are excellently varied, from the persecuted lead, Travis, the loyal brother, Ross, the schoolmaster Hayes, and the sinister villain.

These characters seek to explore for us the question of whether or not to compromise that which is important to us, even when the cost is unbearably high. Do you give in? Or will you, like Ross and Travis defiantly stand and say: “Never.” It’s that element that makes the novel so incredibly appealing—and compulsively readable. This is the kind of book that leaves you wanting to find out about the characters, and grasping to deal with the same moral questions. In fact, one of the things I would suggest you do while reading, is have a pad of paper and ask yourself the same questions. All of these are matters that we must face—for its all part of being human, and in particular as Christians.

This being the second novel that Pennignton has produced, already you can see a great level of growth as a writer, and this in particular leaves me fascinated to see how much farther this growth will continue into her future endeavors. Perhaps that’s what makes this novel so interesting, is because to see this writer tackling issues like this already, it leaves me very interested to see what she will produce as she goes on and grows. 

With all that said, I give this one four out of five, a great second effort from this writer, and I’m waiting to see what happens next.


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Published on 20 January, 2013. Last updated on

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Into the Book was born out of a crazy idea of a blog that'd provide book reviews for teens. There aren't very many book review websites out there exposing awesome, high-quality Christian literature, and there are even fewer that target teenagers. Since 2009, we've been providing high-quality book reviews to the world through our blog. Into the Book has grown around reviews since then, but it remains our oldest project.

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