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Faith Awakened
by Grace Bridges
4 out of 5

If you had the chance to start over, would you take it? If you could program your entire life in a better world, would you do it? These questions are asked (and answered) in Faith Awakened, the new novel by Grace Bridges.

Enter Mariah, trapped in a life—and a world—filled with trouble. And not just any “trouble,” but the Trouble, a series of events that has left the world near void of human life save for a small band of survivors. Struggling to put the pieces of a broken life back together is no easy challenge, but thanks to the company of a few close friends and the guidance of an ever-present Awakener, Mariah seems to pull through. That is, until, something even worse happens and she is left with no choice but retreat into a virtual reality program for several decades until it passes. Once inside, and without memory of her previous life, Mariah must discover what it truly means to live, to find purpose in life, and how to truly be awakened.

It’s hard to imagine this is Bridge’s first book. The way Faith Awakened is written makes you think she’s been at this for a long time. The prose is detailed yet smooth, firm in approach yet comforting, well-articulated yet easy to read.

I’ve always been a fan of end-of-the-world type of stories and while reading this book I was often reminded of Stephen King’s The Stand, where a super virus has taken out most of mankind. Bridges captures the loneliness of an empty world, one filled with dead streets and empty houses, with only pockets of life (human or otherwise) scattered here or there. She truly makes you feel for these characters and care about their every move.

Told as a dual narrative (one following Mariah and the other a girl named Faith), Bridges seamlessly blends two storylines with ease, ones where I wish they had gone on once each were finished. There are rumors she might start up a sequel.

This reviewer is hoping for it.

Recommended.