21 July 2012

Review: Outlander Chronicles: Phoenix (Outlander Chronicles #1) by C.H. Cobb

Title: Outlander Chronicles: Phoenix (Outlander Chronicles #1)
Author: C.H. Cobb
Pub. Date: Nov. 25, 2011
Acquired: From author, for honest review
Find "Outlander Chronicles: Phoenix":
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Eighty years after a smallpox pandemic decimated the global population, Jacen Chester finds himself the sole survivor of his tiny community, just outside the ruins of Philadelphia. Out of the ashes of the old civilization he determines to build a new one.

The young man encounters a wanderer with a mysterious past, named Hakim, who begins to teach him the arts of leadership, self-defense, and the history of the recent global disaster. Together they gather a small group of people committed to Jacen's vision of the future.

The endeavor is threatened from within by Jacen and Hakim’s own sharp differences, and from without by ruthless groups having a decidedly different view of the future. The two men must grapple with philosophical differences regarding violence and religious tolerance in a world where the margin of survival doesn’t permit mistakes. When catastrophe strikes the growing community, Jacen’s leadership is put to the test.

Dystopian fictions are so extrememly popular and common right now that I made the mistake of lumping Phoenix in with all of the other ones, before having read it.

What this book offers, from the beginning, is what others have a hard time offering. And that is a message of hope.

With two incredibly strong main characters, Phoenix tells a story of a world lost and people who are desperate. Hakim and Jacen are two desperately different individuals, but they manage to come together with a common goal... To bring about a change. To make the world whole again. To not have to rely on scavenging to survive.

However, they run into SEVERAL problems along the way.
From Anarchs--individual groups of people who survive off of stealing and killing others, to rogue groups who are using others to survive, to fighting with--of all things--each other.

Jacen and Hakim, both sincerely kind men, come from two very different backgrounds and histories. Jacen, who just recently had to bury his family due to a sickness, was raised under the moral-understanding of being good to others. His intentions are always pure, although somewhat misguided.

Hakim, however, has a much differnt set of standards. He has a reason for his beliefs. A reason for wanting to be a good person and stand up for what is right.

I don't want to give too much away. Because I feel like maybe some of this revealing of the characters' motivations may take away from how a reader feels when you read it, yourself.

Let me just say, that I was completely enthralled in this story from beginning to end. I found both Hakim and Jacen to be endearing and interesting characters, that made me want to keep reading about them.

Mr. Cobb also does an absolutely fantastic job at keeping the premise realistic. While, our country may not, at this moment, be mostly wiped out due to an epidemic, I feel like this explanation is much more believable than what some authors choose to use as their reason as to why the world is not as we know it.

I feel like instead of making up some contrived story just for the sake of making our characters helpless, we have a remarkable background that just builds up the already, amazing tale of two men striving to make a better world.

There is nothing contrived about this story. I will warn you, however, that although I didn't find the story or its characters preachy, a reader who isn't used to stories with some "religious" beliefs will find those in Phoenix. To me, I feel as if those beliefs just make the story better.

Mr. Cobb has done a wonderful job. I'm looking forward to anything else Mr. Cobb puts out there.

My Rating:

~About the Author~

Chris Cobb’s resume reads like a patchwork quilt. He’s driven a forklift, worked as a technician doing component-level repair on digital circuitry, been a programmer-analyst, a data-center shift operator, taught high school science and mathematics, and been an Information Technology Director at a graduate school. Most of his career he’s been a pastor.

He lives with his wife, Doris, in western Ohio, and is presently the teaching pastor at Bible Fellowship Church in Greenville, OH. They have three adult children, and a fine son-in-law and daughter-in-law, all of whom are actively engaged in the arts at some level.

Chris received Jesus Christ as his Savior in 1974, and seeks to incorporate a biblically faithful worldview into everything he does, including his writing.

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