Reviewed by Shawna
Author: Bonnie S. Calhoun
Description: It’s the eve of Selah’s eighteenth Birthday Remembrance, and she is desperate to the join the ranks of her bounty hunter father and brothers. She hopes to secure her first capture, a Lander, one of a group of people who mysteriously arrive unconscious along the coast and yield a peculiar mark on their foreheads that make them worth the highest bounty. But, her capture goes awry, and her brothers claim her captive, a young Lander named Bodhi Locke. The next morning, Selah awakes to find the same mysterious mark from the Lander on her chest, which means she is now one of the hunted. As her life begins on the run, she discovers terrible secrets hidden by her family. Her only hope seems to be in one person she was warned never to trust, a Lander, her brothers’ captive.
Rating: 2 for violence
Positive: Truths, though painful, are revealed to Selah throughout her quest, and she is able to find healing even in the most difficult times. The enslavement of the Landers is a detestable act, but many fight for their freedom at the risk of their own lives. Selah’s love and respect for her mother grows as she discovers her mother’s wisdom in teaching her survival skills at a young age. Several characters demonstrate self-sacrifice and sacrificial love.
Spiritual Elements: The Landers are immortal beings resembling humans but with supernatural powers like telepathy. They have been cast out of the Presence for their transgressions. Not much is known of the place they came from because they cannot remember once they arrive on the beach. Clues are given that they may be able to find redemption through selfless acts and be able to return to the Presence.
Violence: The book is not for the faint-of-heart or the squeamish. As true of most dystopian novels, the book is filled with violence that grows in intensity and gruesome detail as the storyline deepens. I will not give accounts of every violent act as not to give the story away, but I will mention the most notable or disturbing to give an idea of what may be bothersome to some. The book takes place many years after a time referred to as The Sorrows when nuclear warfare sets off a series of natural disasters that wipe out millions of people. The survivors have grouped themselves into different sects that often do not get along. One group lives inside a highly-guarded mountain with all the modern conveniences and are ran by a domineering group called The Company. The higher-ups in The Company have discovered the Landers’ gifts and have placed a bounty on them. No one outside knows that the captured Landers are experimented on (although not much detail is given on the experimentation) and are only released through death.
The Company is headed-up by one man and his wife who grow increasing devoid of morals and compassion toward others, especially the Landers. These characters are controlled by their own selfish tendencies and will do what is takes to hide the truth from the outside world. Several are murdered. One is incinerated with much gruesome detail given.
Selah and her family live on the outside where life is filled with harsh conditions. Selah remembers a couple of instances in which neighbors died and were eaten by animals. Other scenes include bone-crunching, blood squirting, and entrails oozing.
Sexual Content: Selah and Bodhi are attracted to each other. They find themselves watching and admiring each other physically. Selah is uncomfortable when Bodhi is shirtless because of her attraction to him and demands he put on his shirt. Selah has never really had those types of feelings before. She realizes she has telepathic ability as a Lander, and she and Bodhi are able to communicate on a more intimate level. Several times she feels uncomfortable with Bodhi “being in her head,” especially with her thoughts of him. They share a couple of kisses.
Other: Selah’s father holds a deep hatred of Landers and has passed this down to his sons, especially her oldest brother Raza. Her father treats her with disdain and prefers her brothers over her.
Recommendation/Review: Thunder is the first novel in this post-apocalyptic series, the Stone Braide Chronicles by Bonnie S. Calhoun. It is fast-paced, drawing me in from the first page, and has well-developed characters and plotlines. Although it is by a Christian author, the spiritual elements are lesser themes, at least in this book, which would probably make it an option for non-Christians as well. One of my two biggest concerns is the violence. Some readers might be disturbed by some of the more gruesome scenes, which is why the book has a 2 rating. My other concern is the sexual content. There are no raunchy scenes, but the book is very sensual at times with the way Selah and Bodhi think about each other, especially sharing telepathic abilities. I would compare it to other dark romantic books like Twilight although I believe Thunder is less intense. Dark romantic books are often stumbling blocks for me, so I would recommend caution for readers who share the same vulnerability. Otherwise, it is a good choice for post-apocalyptic fans ages 15 and up and will leave readers wanting to finish the rest of the series.