I had the opportunity to review a book called The Unseen written by T.L. Hines and published by Thomas Nelson. The description from the back of the books says:
Lucas is a loner, but he’s never alone.
From secret hiding places, he peers into the lives of others–watching them while they work, while they commute, while they sip their morning coffee. He is a master at remaining silent and unseen in his carefully constructed world as an invisible observer.
But when a chance encounter turns the tables, the watcher becomes the watched. Caught up in an escalating series of events he is powerless to stop, Lucas discovers an underground organization with a chilling mission.
Anyone can be watched. No one is safe. And the most terrifying secrets of all remain Unseen.
Sounds intriguing, huh? I sure thought so. I saved the book to give to Jon for Christmas because it’s the type of suspenseful mystery that he enjoys. When he was finished, I read it too.
Since Thomas Nelson publishes The Unseen I assumed that it would be somewhat Christian in flavor. I had no idea that Thomas Nelson also publishes purely secular fiction as well. Not what I was expecting, but I have no problem with reading secular fiction.
This is the first book that I’ve read from author T.L. Hines, and I was impressed with the quality and style of his writing. From the first couple pages, I was drawn into the story. As each chapter ended, I found it almost impossible not to turn the page and keep reading. I love that kind of book!
The story of Lucus the “watcher” is an unusual one. Not only does he watch strangers as the synopsis reveals, but he creates “nests” to hide in office buildings, restaurants, and other public places. He stands or lies in these spots for hours at a time while he fabricates stories about who he’s watching. He makes up vivid histories for them, even pretending to know where they live and what kind of car they drive.
Lucas goes so far as to slip into the working area of people and steal a photo, scarf, or other object. He puts these objects into a sort of shrine in whatever abandoned building he’s currently calling home. His ultimate goal is to make what he calls a “connection” with those that he watches. The connection is the moment when the watched person ‘senses’ Lucas’ presence. One of his most thrilling moments was when a receptionist told someone, “I just feel like I’m being watched today.”
As strange as Lucas is, the characters in the story become stranger and stranger…to the point that it became so unbelievable that I didn’t enjoy it as much.
That didn’t stop me from reading it, though. Hines writing style is very good. Even when I couldn’t believe another word of what he was saying, I still wanted to continue on and discover the ending to this strange tale.
This is one of those stories that borders on science fiction or fantasy. There is a bare, white room where a boy is kept – never knowing what lies on the other side of the door. All he knows is the man who arrives daily to give him injections of medicine that will “make him better” even though he’s not sick. (That’s the kind of scenario in book, television, or film that makes me roll my eyes.) There are memories that have been completely wiped leaving no trace of who a person is or where he came from. There are people who are little more than drones for a higher commander. They do exactly what they’re told with no question or thought. There’s even a man who walks around with a swarm of wasps hovering about his head – all the time. (More eye rolling.)
Despite my opinion of some of the characters and story line, I must reiterate that this is a very well-written and interesting book. Even the unbelievable parts still had me wanting to know the truth behind all of it. If you like “conspiracy theory” and “men in black” stories, then this one will definitely be right up your alley.
One thing I appreciated about The Unseen by T.L. Hines is that it contained not one single cuss word. I enjoy fiction, but it can very hard to find a book that isn’t full of foul language. Hines is a master story teller and doesn’t need any four-letter-words to help him along.
The book doesn’t contain any sexual situations either. The characters get their ‘kicks’ by watching people instead of interacting with each other. And fortunately they never move into watching others in that way.
The Unseen does contain violence, however. I wouldn’t call it graphic violence in the style of modern movies, but there are explosions, gunshots, plots to kill, even spousal abuse. Several people are shot and killed during the last few chapters, and one person begs another to kill him. The portions of the book that take place in the “white room” are not exactly violent, but they are unpleasant especially because the person held captive in the room is a child.
Depending on your reading preferences, you’ll either love this book, hate it or something in between. (I guess that’s true of all books…) While parts of the storyline were unrealistic to me, I did enjoy it.
You can purchase The Unseen from Thomas Nelson for $22.99 (hard cover) or $15.99 (paperback). The hardcover is also available from Christian Book Distributors for $16.99.
© 2009, Cindy. All rights reserved.