Monday, January 18, 2010

"The Judas Ride" Book Review

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Judas Ride

Tate Publishing (December 8, 2009)


Peggy Sue Yarber

I hate writing negative reviews. I know the author spent epic time pouring out her heart and soul into this book that is her baby, I don't relish saying anything that will be devastating to her. But as a reviewer I owe it to my readers to tell the truth and point out the good and the bad or how can they trust me when I say something is really worth their time and money to read? This is one of the times that I have to seriously dissuade my readers from wasting time, money or brain cells on this book.

Starting out on a positive note... I like the cover of this book, and even the title. For a small publisher I was impressed by the presentation of the book. There is also a lot of good character development, quite a few central characters yet I still felt like I was really getting into their heads (almost more than I wanted to). Okay, that is about where the good ends.

Rarely do I read a "Christian" book that leaves me with the sense of wishing I could get my precious hours back that I spent reading it. That leaves me wishing I could take a shower and wash it away. This book did just that. I kept thinking that there would be some redeeming factors by the end that would make it all worthwhile - but no, instead there are tons of funerals (which was repeatedly spelled wrong by the way) whether by suicide, murder, fire or more suicide. Really? The pastor in the story is losing his faith by the end, for a long time I couldn't even figure out why it was called a Christian book. Then some of the characters started debating theology quite a bit - but that doesn't make it Christian. I look for God's redemption, His grace and mercy to shine through and bring hope... just because the baby born is named Mercy Grace does not mean God's grace and mercy have been exhibited to the reader.

This was the darkest, vilest book I've ever read. I understand that the author was going for "realism", "edginess" and "grit". But that doesn't mean you have to take every evil thing that has ever happened to someone and roll them all into one book (molestation, rape, murder, physical abuse, mental abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, premarital sex, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, and the list goes on...) This is supposed to represent the struggles of youth today, I may be naive but I don't know one single teen that is going through all those things.

I do know that no book is written for everyone and I am convinced that this book was not written for me... I just haven't figured out who it was written for. I have 2 copies of this book and I was going to give them away, but that is before I read it. I can not in good conscience pass them on to other readers.

The odd thing is that I read Peggy's book "Tare" and didn't think it was awful, it was kind of dark at the end, and didn't have the closure I was looking for but it wasn't anything like this book.


Peggy Sue Yarber, PhD in psychology, lives in central California with her husband, two daughters, six turtles and two dogs. She works in the field of education.

The Judas Ride was inspired by her current and previous students. She has seen and experienced and seen similarities between the students and Jesus’ traitor, Judas Iscariot. She has always been fascinated with Judas. Yarber went to a catholic school when she was young and Judas was always portrayed like a mysterious rebel.

She ventures to say, “I guess he was my James Dean of the Bible. But in a good way! In the way that…he did something so wrong so that the entire world could be saved. He had to betray Jesus in order for the rest of the story. I have always wondered what it would be like to not do that one bad thing that would lead to that one great thing. So I had the Vader character sort of run through the paces of Judas.”

Redemption and reality are the two distinguishing features about Yarber’s writing. Not all teens find redemption in The Judas Ride. Yarber considered trying to show the negative outcomes as much as the positive. She wasn’t thinking in terms of positive and negative but she did try to balance the two sides. Yarber says she often sees people daily that , “…have even more screwed up lives than these characters.” Yarber admits sometimes there is not an ending to the madness unless someone dies and then even after the death the ripples still linger. She has written another novel TARE and a children’s book Rocketships to Heaven and the SOS Fuel Station. She loves to run, read, shoot guns and watch her daughters play soccer.


An unwed (and unwanted) teen pregnancy with two possible fathers. Abusive relationships. Drug and alcohol addiction. Rape and molestation. The struggle to understand grace, forgiveness, and free will versus predestination. The Judas Ride hits the road running in the opening pages, where Sonia and Xavier argue explosively about whether Sonia should have their unborn child and about who the father is: Xavier, a struggling Christian, or Vader, an abusive and abused drug dealer. As the pages turn, readers continue to meet a hodgepodge of troubled teens and eclectic characters, including Pastor Manny, a quirky immigrant pastor infatuated with John Wayne. Pastor Manny desires to help the tortured souls in his community but finds that it takes more than unconditional love to reach them. Secrets literally kill in The Judas Ride, an edgy, in-your-your face Christian novel that boldly explores the struggles of modern-day young people.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Judas Ride, go HERE

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