|The Veritas Project Volume 1: Hangman’s
Curse is the first in Frank Peretti’s teen series released in 2001.
As a die-hard fan of Peretti’s talent in the adult genre, my curiosity
was piqued at his attempt to reach teens through fiction. For anyone
who has read Peretti’s first and only non-fiction book to date The Wounded
Spirit, Hangman’s Curse will sound very familiar. The author
does not hide the fact that Hangman’s Curse is a clear fictional
illustration of the message of The Wounded Spirit.
The Wounded Spirit is written for people of all ages and sold in your local Christian Living section. We have all been bullied at some point in our lives. We have felt the pain of an insult. We have met people in our churches, on our jobs, at school or the bus stop or in our neighborhoods who feel it is their duty to lord their intimidation tactics over another person if for no better reason than their own sick personal satisfaction. Or perhaps we ourselves have been the perpetrator. Peretti gives his personal testimony of his physical birth defects and how that affected the rest of his life. He uses the tragedy of Columbine High School in Colorado as an example of what happens when kids in situations like his own take matters into their own hands. He also offers hope and peaceful solutions to those who are willing to make a change.
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The Veritas Project is a one-family team of investigators commissioned by the President to search out the Veritas (Latin word for truth). Elijah and Elisha Springfield are teenage twins, brother and sister, who do a great deal of undercover work since they are the least likely suspects. Their parents trust them and they all trust God. Peretti engages them in common debates heard in teen circles, such as evolution, witchcraft, and tolerance. At first this sounded too soapbox-ish, like cheap propaganda for Christianity, until further reading revealed that it actually fit into the exciting plot of the story and further illustrated the multifaceted purpose of the Veritas team. Whether teens will understand this or view it as preachy is debatable.
Arachnophobes beware! In Hangman’s Curse, “several students at Baker High School are stricken by an alleged curse of the school’s ghost.” The Springfield’s are sent to uncover the real mystery.
The message of The Wounded Spirit came through quite clearly. The author makes the unwritten statement that there is a right and a wrong way to deal with social problems. The teenage years are a critical time for decision-making. If teens make poor choices then, the consequences and ripple attitude could be very painful in adulthood.
Frank Peretti has an intriguing style of
writing. Like daytime television, Peretti can have several scenes
playing out at the same time. Each scene change is marked by a separation
in the text so as not to lose the reader in the transition; in doing this,
the plot moves faster and the author holds the reader’s attention.
If the soapbox style messages are too distracting, may I encourage Peretti’s
second book in the series The Veritas Project Volume 2: Nightmare
Academy where the very nature of the plot is more inviting of these
types of platforms. Volume One will bait you. Volume Two will
have you hooked!