Circle of Pride
I’ve read more than my fair share of YA thrillers, its honestly one of my favorite genres; I know what I’m looking for in YA fiction so when I was introduced to Circle of Pride, I didn’t think I would like it much. But I’m always on the look-out for good Christian fiction and this one seemed promising, so I decided to give it a chance. I must say, Schaub did not disappoint me!
Meet Russ, an angsty teen who hasn’t had the easiest life but he’s with his foster brother, he’s got a roof over his head and food in his belly—hey, he can’t complaint, right? Wrong. Russ has one good reason to complain: he’s a thief, and, somehow, one of the things he’s stolen has come back to haunt him…literally. Russ gets his hands on an intriguing coin he can’t say no to, until he does say no and decides to throw it away. Unfortunately for him, that coin keeps turning up in the most random places and now he can’t get rid of it. Desperate to find out what’s the catch, Russ sets out on a journey that brings him to an Exorcist who puts everything he knows to the test.
Faith is a heavy theme in this book, which is obviously my favorite part. Russ isn’t a Believer in the beginning of the book, we see his conversion and journey of faith play out on the pages as he struggles with his own doubts and disbelief. It’s a beautiful story that is portrayed in a very honest and realistic manner, but the best part is that it doesn’t disrupt the flow of the story. Christian fiction sometimes struggles when it comes to a character exploring their faith. You’ve got to decide whether to have a protagonist who’s a Believer right from the start or becomes a Believer along the way. When it’s the latter, the story can get bogged down with the long tale of the protagonist discovering their faith. I was very thankful that didn’t happen here; Schaub was able to explore Russ’s faith while progressing the story and keeping things realistic at the same time.
I absolutely loved the faith parts of this book but there are other themes that play a strong role as well; the foster care system is a big one, which I appreciated because its something we don’t speak of very often yet its full of problems and sticky issues. There’s a fair share of action and the dark secrets of the past creep up to haunt our protagonist throughout the book. Russ is a strong character you will either love or hate but he’s someone who can hold a story together no matter how you feel about him. The writing was excellent, perfectly descriptive and full of humor, despite its serious tone.
As a Christian, its easy for me to praise this book but I think Circle of Pride leans toward Catholic fiction. That doesn’t mean the message of Christ is any less apparent in the writing, but it sends a slightly different message than that of purely Christian writing. I am not Catholic, while there are similarities between Christianity and Catholicism, they are not the same faith. So, I’m not the biggest fan of Catholic fiction but I did enjoy this story for what it was. I’ll admit; however, I could be wrong. This might be Christian fiction 100% but some of the themes strongly point to the Catholic side of fiction. That being said, I enjoyed the book nonetheless and I strongly recommend this novel to young adult readers who enjoy adventure, action, and self-discovery. Christian and Catholic readers alike certainly want to grab a copy today.