An imaginative science-fiction premise and a well-drawn, affecting character struggle to overcome heavy-handed religious proselytizing in this uneven suspense tale.
A mad, unethical scientist, assisted by sane, unethical scientists, runs a secret underground facility that experiments on boys who are clones of the mad scientist. The boys face death at age 18, believing that they will be fulfilling their “purpose” of saving mankind. The aptly named Martyr would like to see the sky before he dies. When the scientists refuse his last wish, Martyr escapes, eventually teaming up with Abby, the daughter of one of the scientists, to fight the evil Dr. Kane (read “Cain”). Abby, as a committed Christian, tries to save, both religiously and literally, her new friend. In Martyr, Williamson creates a standout character. His complete innocence, perfect sincerity and humorous misunderstandings of the modern world easily endear him to readers. Far less successful, the one-dimensional Abby blends in with standard-issue young heroine types. The author pushes her political views into the story, describing one highly stereotypical character as a “liberal extremist” when he supports embryonic stem-cell research. This complements her portrayal of the scientists, who apparently don’t view the matured clones as truly human. Suspense scenes become difficult to follow as she frequently jumps from one scene to another. However, Martyr’s final action gives readers an uplifting and important lesson.
For committed conservative Christian audiences. (Christian science fiction. 12 & up)