Martyr—otherwise known as Jason 3:3—is one of hundreds of clones kept in a remote facility called Jason Farms. Told that he has been created to save humanity, Martyr has just one wish before he is scheduled to ‘expire’ in less than a month. To see the sky.
Abby Goyer may have just moved to Alaska, but she has a feeling something strange is going on at the farm where her father works. But even this smart, confident girl could never have imagined what lies beneath a simple barn. Or what would happen when a mysterious boy shows up at her door, asking about the stars. As the reality of the Jason Experiment comes to light, Martyr is caught between two futures—the one for which he was produced and the one Abby believes God created him to have. Time is running out, and Martyr must decide if a life with Abby is worth leaving everything he’s ever known.
This is Christian fiction, so those strongly opposed to religious novels may want to stay clear of this story. However, it’s a really interesting premise with some great morals and, even though I really hate preachy novels, I thought this was a good read overall. While it’s true that the religious aspect does come on quite strong in some parts, including the quoting and deciphering of scripture, in retrospect, it flows rather nicely with the story as Martyr, a clone set to expire, has never thought of a Creator at all. In every society, there is some type of higher being that is worshipped, and if not worshipped, the people of the society at least have heard of a higher being, but Martyr has never thought about it, nor has anyone ever brought it up to him. Thus, watching Martyr’s reaction to Abby’s assertion that Martyr does indeed have a higher purpose in life and that God loves him was actually really interesting. Of course, like a toddler, Martyr latches on to anything new—he’s never had a chance to see or experience anything outside the farm, and so it’s debatable as to whether or not Martyr really believes or is just in awe of this newfound Being, but that’s a debate for another time. Regardless, this novel tackles some very interesting topics that YA doesn’t usually pursue, making it entirely unique in its own right.
Religion aside, though, Williamson does a great job fleshing out her characters and her storyline. I loved that Abby is a very strong female lead, a Christian, and yet a flawed individual. Williamson does not make her out to be “holier than thou,” and Abby succumbs to the same temptations, thoughts, and actions that the rest of us do, which, ultimately, makes her human as a very likable character. Martyr, of course, is very interesting in his own right, taking care of others and ultimately becoming a leader for his brethren, all who look like him and were cloned of the same doctor in order to find cures for diseases, including the doctor’s own disease, Lupus. J.D. was not my favorite, but he was incredibly real. As a teacher of high school, I see students like him all the time, and the fact that all these characters emulate real behaviors made them all the more real to me. Overall, I really enjoyed this story and recommend it to those not opposed to a little overbearing religious talk here and there. Four stars.
Zondervan has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read this novel, via Netgalley.