'Unpretty' Paints a Thrilling Tale
By Rebekah Wilson
CBN.com Bombs explode in a Lehigh, West Virginia art gallery, a police detective goes missing, and a local bookstore owner begins receiving strange cassette tapes from the psychopath behind it all: These are just some of the elements that make up the new mystery thriller, Unpretty, by Sharon Carter Rogers.
An author cloaked in mystery herself, Rogers writes under a pseudonym and teases her readers with clues about herself on her MySpace page. This sophomore novel, a follow up to the successful release Sinner, remains both fast-paced and suspenseful as local police, aided by the former NFL star-turned urban monk Ready Robinson, try to close in on the killer and his strange cult, the Michelangelus Movement.
Incorporating the famous painting of Michelangelo, The Last Judgment, the story’s main theme is the exploration of what is “unpretty.” The opposite is, of course, what we think of as pretty: pleasing to the eye, beautiful, and elegant. But how is Jesus, himself, described? Isaiah 53:2-6 foretells the coming of Christ, stating:
“The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.” (The Message)
By trying to stamp out the unprettiness of the world, the Michelangelus Movement is not only usurping the place of Christ on the Judgment Seat (the central figure in the very painting used to inspire terror and fear), but misreading beauty. Sometimes beauty is in the flaw, and sometimes the blemish holds the key to receiving God’s grace. In the story, a little boy with multiple personalities, the result of a terrible car accident, holds the key to the whereabouts of the killer. He doesn’t even know the power of the information that he possesses, and only an encounter with a servant of God unlocks his potential for good. In the same way, the power of God releases our hidden possibilities. We all start out looking very ugly in a spiritual sense, but through realizing our lack of inner beauty, we have the opportunity to be made perfect.
Rogers’ work definitely breaks away from the traditionally female Christian Romance genre, and provides a thrilling read from start to finish. Some readers may be offended by the graphic descriptions of evil, but even that is used for Rogers’ own ends. The ugliness of depravity is the perfect backdrop for the redemptive nature of Christ, and the fact that in the end, although plenty of bad things happen along the way, the ‘Good Guys’ win.
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