Synopsis: In a world that hates Christianity and everything it stands for, the lives of Tony Dorence and his sister Merri begin to crumple amid the persecution of the government and the betrayal of those they know and love. When everyone else lets them down, will they too succumb to the pressure of the world or will they choose to stand and fight for what they believe in?
Kristina Hall has done it again, folks! She’s jumped into a new genre, new world, and new cast of characters while still retaining her same straightforward style and inspirational themes of God’s sovereignty and the amazing gift of His salvation! Fled for Refuge is a dystopian novel, set in the “near future,” but it’s still feels very familiar and relevant for the time we’re living in!
I love how Hall’s main focus in FFR is apologetics and how it important it is to stand up for God and His Word, even to the point of imprisonment and death! Of course, she seamlessly wove in so many other themes and messages—witnessing to others, the importance of prayer, trusting God’s will, the evidence of God’s existence—that worked to create a well-rounded, impactful story!
Not to mention throwing in those conservative ideals! Because, yes, I wholeheartedly agree that skinny jeans on guys is pure evil.
I did like the concept, of course, but, I don’t know...I just felt like something was missing or lacking in the execution, per se. For example, in FFR, Christians and conservatives have to deal with a Religious Freedom Mandate that requires all churches/preachers to have their sermons monitored and basically written by the government. The food and water supply has been tainted with cancer-causing chemicals. Abortion is rampant. Schools teach evolution. Etc., etc.
Don’t get me wrong...this is all very, very evil, and Tony (our main man) dealt with a level of persecution we’ve yet to fully face...but schools already teach evolution, abortion is already rampant, food and water already causes cancer. I guess I wasn’t feeling the impact of all that was wrong in Tony’s world...especially considering there was never any mention of things like homosexuality, transgenderism, pedophilia, jab mandates, witchcraft, and stuff like the bill in Maryland that allows babies to be killed up to 28 days old outside of the womb and the bill in Canada that prevents people within the church from talking about biblical sexuality.
I mean, it could’ve been a lot worse. In some ways, we now already deal with a lot worse, on a more sexual level, that is.
So maybe, since this seemed so close to the end of the world and Christians were being persecuted so badly, I was expecting more. (Not that I enjoy mentally torturing myself by going over all that’s wrong with the world, but you get my point.)
All that aside (pardon my rant there), on a more technical level, I seriously felt like I was missing a prequel. Like, we just jumped right in to Tony getting mowed over by a car and I’m just like “Wait. Who’s this dude? What’s going on?” Hall did a great job of explaining everything later, of course, but it was kinda like there was a chapter or a short prequel story missing from the beginning there.
And even though the story was suspenseful, of course, it kind of dragged a little bit and seemed maybe a teensy bit anti-climatic. Maybe it’s because I (and the characters) had been on pins and needles for chapters (or days) waiting for something to happen to Tony that (SPOILER) when it did, it was just kind of like...finally.
That sounds terrible, but surely you get my point.
Speaking of Tony...he was seriously a mashup of all Hall’s previous heroes. He was tough like Moretti, spiritual like Davis, kind like Harry...I mean, best of all the worlds here, eh? And he seriously reminded me of my dad. Like, the way he talked, what he talked about, kind of his general attitude about some things...had Gracie’s dad written all over him. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. *winks*
As for Merri...I couldn’t really connect with her (surprise, surprise), but she was definitely different than most characters. For one, she had serious social anxiety (#relate), was agnostic, and was pretty down-to-earth. So I certainly appreciated her unique qualities, and I loved her arc!
Hall always crafts such believable, emotional, and relatable struggles for her characters, and the way she writes their arcs is perfect!
So even though I felt like some things were missing, Hall hit it out of the park with her characters and her messages and her emotions and THE DADGUM CLIFFHANGER YALL I CANT.
(I’m reading Refuge from the Storm as I write this, so it’s not as heartwrenching as it was when I finished FFR, but y’all.)
Kristina, you can’t get on to me about cliffhangers anymore. You just can’t. Sorry.
So there ya have it, folks! This review is...dang, it’s really short, mainly because a Kristina Hall novel is automatically a must-read for anyone and the only purpose of this review was to hand out just a few non-positive opinions to balance out the gushing I could give y’all.
Seriously. If you like suspense, dystopian fiction, relatable characters, gut-wrenching struggles, tons of action, and lovely faith arcs, Fled for Refuge is for you! (I’m still making a petition for a prequel story so we can learn more about Tony and Merri and their parents and their grandparents and how the world came to be so rotten and everything...any signatures?)
Also, when you do start reading this, make sure Refuge from the Storm is right. there. beside you. Trust me. You gonna need it.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary review copy from the lovely author. All opinions expressed are my own!
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about the author
Kristina Hall is a sinner saved by grace who seeks to glorify God with her words. She is a homeschool graduate and holds a degree in accounting. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, arm wrestling, lifting weights, and playing the violin. Follow her on Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, and her website, and subscribe to her newsletter!