Book Review – The Y Factor

Liam Roberts – New Author With Promise

A few weeks ago, I received an offer to review a debut novel from an unknown author. This was the teaser I received:

Medical AND political thriller? You bet! Liam Roberts is a debut novelist with characters who are bent on unraveling the genetic code…and applying it to the simmering situation between Christians and Muslims.

When your sons are engaged in the very real war in the Middle East and they tell you to keep a low profile, slapping your true name on the cover of a novel about Middle Eastern tensions isn’t the smartest course to take. But what is a writer to do when he has a story that must be told? An idea that refuses to die, that will engage readers and do what great stories do…make them re-visit their opinions?

You invent a pen name. Something like, oh, Liam Roberts.

Roberts knows the technology and unrest of which he writes. A computer whiz by day, he has close family members fighting in the very region in which his story is set. His love of technology led to the question: what if technology allowed us to know something that would significantly impact the situation in the Middle East?

I was intrigued, so I requested the free review copy of The Y Factor. I admit however, that I was skeptical. I figured Roberts would have a difficult time equaling well-known authors of thrillers. He’s an unknown, writing under a pseudonym, published by a publisher I’d never heard of. But, within the first couple of chapters, I was hooked.

My Review

What if you got an e-mail from a friend that sends a chill of fear up your spine? What if you thought that friend was in grave danger, the kind only terrorists can create? What if you hadn’t heard from that friend in weeks? Rumor has it, he’s vanished. In The Y Factor, computer scientist Eric Colburn receives just that sort of message. Fearing what may have happened to his friend Hamdi, who has been working on an international genetics project in Cairo, Colburn and his girlfriend Alana, another mutual friend of Hamdi, decide to put their skills to work the genetics research company.

What follows is a mind-blowing series of events that kept me turning pages late into the night. From the moment the drama unfolds, Colburn, Alana, and another co-worker named Joey demonstrate the reality of living in mortal fear. The book gives the reader a glimpse into the world of al Qaeda and the violence that is a way of life in some countries. I’m not sure what the actions of al Qaeda are really like, because I have no connections to the middle east. However, 9/11 stands as evidence of the brutality that simmers in the hearts of some men. Liam Roberts has captured this well in The Y Factor. I left me feeling like I ought to be watching over my shoulder.

This book is well written. Roberts’ style reminded me a lot of Ted Dekker especially in Dekker’s Blessed Child. I seriously wondered part of the way through if Dekker was writing under a pseudonym. The medical aspects of the story reminded me of Randy Ingermanson’s Oxygen.

The violence in the book is handled tastefully, and there are so many examples of good Christian conduct in the business world in the book. So at first, I was thinking it would be a great read for teens and adults alike. But there is just one part I wish could have been avoided. Like a fabulous movie with one objectionable scene that could have been left out, there was one scene in the book when Alana is held in captivity that pushed the book off my list of recommendations for teens. Assault is reality, I know and it wasn’t a rape. But either way I suggest parents use their judgment. The scene disappoints me only because the rest of the book is such an example of morality and good conduct despite the violent reality. Eric and his girlfriend agree not to be intimate until marriage and that’s a great message for young people. Plus, the gospel is woven throughout the entire story line without it being preachy. That’s an accomplishment for a writer.

I highly recommend this book to readers, both male and female, and I’m looking forward to other books by Roberts. Y factor should stand for yes factor in my opinion.

You’ll find Liam Roberts on the web at his blog

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