HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Outlander Chronicles, Book One: Phoenix
Author: C. H. Cobb
Illustrator: Dani Snell
Publisher: Doorway Press, 2011
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 13 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Category: Dystopian novel
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Cobb, C. H. Outlander Chronicles, Book One: Phoenix (Published in 2011 by Doorway Press, Greenville, OH). It is the year 2120, some eighty years after a smallpox pandemic, unleashed by Muslims, has reduced the global population to eight million, divided between Townies, who are trying just to survive, and Anarchs, who attack and kill Townies. Jacen Chester, a 23 year old young man, lives in a dying community of Townies near the rusting ruins once known as Exton, PA, outside of Philadelphia. After burying both of his parents, the last of his entire family and community, he decides that the time has come to replant civilization, dreaming of establishing an organized community (Phoenix) that will restart the arts and sciences, and rediscover the technology of the former world. He meets a mysterious wanderer, an older man named Hakim Abdul al Malik, who decides to help him accomplish his dream. Together the two gather a small community and set their sights on the empty interior of the continent in the ruins of Denver, Colorado.
How can the group survive as it faces lethal attacks from without? Will they stay together as they experience hatred and bitterness within? What lessons do they learn about forgiveness and religious tolerance? Author Chris Cobb seeks to incorporate a Biblically faithful worldview into everything that he does, including his writing. Just from a literary standpoint, Phoenix is well written and exciting to read, but I especially appreciate the way in which Cobb embeds Biblical principles in the story line. Jacen is an atheist while Hakim, though an Arab, is a Christ believer. It is Book 1 of the “Outlander Chronicles” and ends with the group near the ruins of Cedar Rapids, IA, with the announcement that “When spring finally arrived, the twenty-four souls of Phoenix would be but 800 miles from their destination. But that’s another tale; maybe someday I’ll tell you about it.” A dystopian novel suffused with hope, the book is suitable for high-school-age readers and older.