Very few Christian fiction take me by surprise, but Invitation was definitely unexpected!
Renowned authors Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky join forces to write a book of “episodes,” similar to a television series. The new series focuses on four characters–Brenda, The Professor, Andi, and Tank–who are thrown together as an unlikely task force against the spiritual realm. Each author takes the point of view of one of the characters and presents a situation for the team to confront.
Bill Myers portrays Brenda, a rough and tumble tattoo artist, who has the ability to see things in the future. What she sees, she tattoos. When Tank, a big-hearted jock, stumbles drunkenly into her tattoo parlor with his buddies, Brenda knows that they are meant to join forces. When his friends leave him behind, Tank is left to either “sleep it off” outside Brenda’s parlor or allow her to take him home. Along the way, the two come across The Professor and Andi, who find themselves completing the task force. Before they know what’s happening, they are all headed to the Institute, a place that launches the best and the brightest into their careers. But when they reach the campus, it becomes quite obvious that supernatural forces are at work. Can this unlikely team work together to conquer forces that they can’t see or understand?
Frank Peretti creates a story from The Professor’s point of view. Once a Catholic priest, The Professor now guest lectures around the country, striving to convince people to abandon faith in God. Even after the unexplained events at the Institute, The Professor can’t seem to wrap his mind around the fact that God exists. But when an old friend of The Professor calls him for help, The Professor finds himself thankful when his assistant, Andi, calls in the task force. What they find when they get into town is that houses can appear to be alive and can move or disappear without warning. Along the way, the team meets a young boy, who seems to be the missing part of their team. Can The Professor use logic to explain what is happening?
Angela Hunt tells Andi’s story. Andi is the beautiful but extremely intelligent assistant to The Professor. With her ability to see patterns in numbers and shapes, Andi is able to believe in the unthinkable, which often annoys The Professor. But when Andi goes home to spend time with her grandparents, she begins to sense that there are more powerful forces there and knows that she needs the help of her newly-formed team. But can the team face the unseen before it’s too late? And why are birds suddenly dropping from the sky without any eyes? What is happening to the sea life? Once again, the unlikely team must face things that they can’t explain or understand.
Alton Gansky reveals the story of Tank, a gentle jock, who loses his place on the team after taking time to go help the task force. Trying to regain his focus, Tank goes home to spend time with his uncle, the local sheriff. But when a young girl is found barefoot in the snow with no signs of frostbite and the inability to speak, Tank begins to think that his powers of healing may be of help after all. But while Tank thinks that he is there to help the girl, he finds her drawing him in while she seems to be getting younger. One thing is certain, Tank will fight against anything to protect her–even a beast that he can’t see. With the help of the task force, can Tank save her before it’s too late?
While at first I thought that this series was going to be a disappointment, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the stories and characters easily crossed over into each other. The authors do a wonderful job of collaborating on the stories and making the “episodes” flow easily together. I would definitely recommend this book.
*I was given this book in exchange for my honest review from Bethany House Publishers.