Pretty much everything is rated for its maximum potential considering the kind of book being reviewed, and then on how well the potential was realized. Like gymnastics, for you Olympics watchers.
by Aubrey Hansen
Philadelphia would be normal school girl if she wasn't also a Christian. Because of that, she is relegated to an outcast society, stripped of all but the most basic rights and devoid of all respect. Under the constant threat of violence, she lives a quiet and contented life. Her own family has twice been struck with tragedy because of their Christianity, but she never wavers in her chosen faith and identity.
Her real test comes when her father is called away to a science project on Mars, and she faces separation from the last of her remaining earthly family, even as she experiences parting with her spiritual family at the same time.
All in all, family is the theme of the story, as Philadelphia must choose which family and identity she will make for herself as she grows up.
plot: The plot of Red Rain is engaging. It follows one simple plot line throughout the book, with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, but too many to tie your brain in knots. Total length of reading time barely exceeds two hours, and I am a slow reader, so if you are looking for a nice afternoon read, Red Rain is excellent. I most recommend it be acquired in eBook form because Aubrey gives great discounts there, which can help give you more bang for your buck. The main drawback is that certain events seem almost to recur, and sometimes Philadelphia's reasoning for her decision making seems vacuous, leaving the reader occasionally wondering what happened and why, and most especially why it is happening again.
setting: The settings detailed in Red Rain are a hidden gem, the piano amongst the orchestra. Always vividly described, Aubrey spares her readers of incessant detail but also avoids leaving us wondering what kind of world we are in. From a concentration camp, to a spaceship, ending on Mars, the reader never looses track of the world around them. Through the eyes of her first-person narrator, we pick up on all the valuable details and the essential generalities.
characters: The characters of Red Rain are a delightful bunch, neither to complicated nor agonizingly predictable. Even though some of them wear their personality on their names, literally, the motley crew of Christians, agnostics, atheists, and what-have-you will never make you want to bang your head against a wall. Forever realistic and surprisingly consistent, everyone from Philadelphia herself to the bus driver in the camp is described as much as you need and not more than you want. Cleverly described through the plot developments, forced acceptance is never required, and foreshadowing remains shady enough that we are never forced to suspend our intelligence as we try to decipher the true humans that wander the grey walls of earth or the glass houses of Mars. However, some of the characters do leave us wishing we understood them more, especially in the motivation department.
content: [This section focuses on objectionable and commendable content.]
Objectionable: There are no explicit remarks or allusions to mature content. Vulgarisms are limited to the mention that certain characters swore, without specific words being mentioned. Drug and alcohol content are absent. Spiritualism is limited to a Christian context. The only disagreeable opinion may be the Smyrna family's disposition towards a near complete pacifism.
Commendable: Philadelphia's example of faith and courage and conviction is astounding. Even if her decisions may not seem to be the most rational, it is clear that she is following through on her beliefs in accordance with her faith.
Other characters display apathy or antagonism to faith in general, which is portrayed well and unattractively.
The morals and mores of this story are totally sound by my judgment, with the single possible exception mentioned above.