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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Fallen by P. Abbott is a Christian science fiction military novel and book one in the series by the same name, revolving around a contemporary United States military war veteran named Brendan Murphy. Brendan is afflicted with undiagnosed acute distress and PTSD, and his backstory is provided by way of thoughts, nightmares, and character conversations regarding Brendan's experiences, pain, and losses both at home in his role as a military combatant. In this new world, humanity has established varied levels of relationships with an alien race called the Sabia, and Brendan's life takes another sharp turn when he is re-deployed to work with them. As the novel progresses it becomes clear that Brendan's feelings of being an outsider due to his extreme mental health issues transcend to a role that makes him neither here nor there. He is equally responsible for the Sabia and the US government, which frequently puts him at odds with individuals from both. As the physical manifestation of his connection to both extends beyond an initial reconstruction, so too does the reconstruction of mindsets and the actions that drive them in individuals, groups, governments and Earth as a whole.
There's a lot to unpack with Fallen by P. Abbott and the foundation set for the series the novel is expected to expand into covers a great deal of content. The world building is really well done and we do get a genuine sense of connection as readers to the fanaticism that exists in real life and the construct of it in Abbott's characters and social network, particularly with the introduction of the Sabia. There is no question that alien life having an impact on Earth will terrify most and amplify xenophobia between cultures and civilizations that were already mounted when applied to countries, let alone planets. The Christian elements and Brendan's faith becomes more pronounced as he turns to pastors for guidance. References to salvation and giving oneself to God are made. There is also romance, which is extremely well done and, in my opinion, the highlight of the novel. It will be interesting to see where this leads. Brendan's PTSD is severe and if I'm completely honest, he does not belong in the role he takes on because clear-headedness is critical and he really does not posses this. As a reader this is clearly a central theme in the story and Brendan's emotional instability, which he tries his level best to hide, is undoubtedly part of the character arc. There are questions I have as a reader that reach beyond Brendan's suitability into the realm of his having elements of textbook systemic racism embedded in his mindset, and whether or not that is intentional in a character who is outwardly perceived as antiracist. Either way, it's distracting and kicks his likeability down multiple notches. The story as a whole is good and I have no doubt others will have the same opinion about it, and want to move on to whatever Abbott delivers in the series next.