Book Review: Numb

21 Apr

The folks at the Christian Science Fiction And Fantasy Blog Tour are featuring John Otte and his sci-fi novel, Numb. A bi congrats goes to John for Numb being named a Christy Award finalist in speculative fiction! The CSSF Tour is always a great mix of reviews, so I encourage you to check out all the participants’ blogs. You will find the list at the end of this post. Meanwhile, here is the info on Numb and John.

Numb-Front-Cover-Smaller-194x300Save the girl…or his soul?

Crusader is numb. He feels neither emotion nor pain, a divine gift that allows him to be the Ministrix’s best assassin.

Whether it’s heretics from within or heathens from without, Crusader is the sword in the True Church’s hand. And if he remains obedient to his superiors, he will be able to let go of his guilt.

But then he’s ordered to kill Isolda Westin. It shouldn’t be a problem. A target is a target. When Crusader sees Isolda’s image, though, something strange happens. He experiences a moment of panic, a wave of emotions–the first he’s felt in as long as he can remember.

In that moment, he realizes he can’t fulfill his mission. He can’t kill Isolda Westin, even if it means he’ll be condemned as an enemy of the Ministrix.

Soon Crusader and Isolda are on the run. Will they be able to learn why the Ministrix wants Isolda dead? Or will they both soon face the harsh justice of the “True Church”?


John-W-Otte-200x300John Otte is a PK, a pastor’s kid. He grew up in Columbia Heights, a suburb of Minneapolis, with his parents and younger sister and brother. They were the terror of their local library because, every few weeks, they would come and check out crates full of books, increasing the workload of the poor librarians. In high school, though, John worked at the same library, so it balanced out.

After high school, John attended Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he majored in theatre. Upon his graduation in 1996, he moved on to Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated with his Masters of Divinity in 2000. He served as a Lutheran minister in Blue Earth, Minnesota, before moving to South St. Paul, Minnesota, where he currently serves as the pastor for Concordia Lutheran Church.

John married his wife in 2002 and they now have two wonderful boys who are well on their way toward being geeks. John couldn’t be prouder.

John is a life-long writer. He started with badly drawn comic books in the fifth grade. When he realized that he was a lousy artist, he moved on to badly written novels in middle school. He’s tried his hand at screenplays (don’t ask), stage plays (a little better), fanfic, teen mysteries, and religious fiction. But his first love has always been speculative fiction.

His debut novel, Failstate, was published by Marcher Lord Press in April of 2012, and was a finalist for the Christy Awards in 2013. He has gone on to publish two more novels with Marcher Lord Press. John looks forward to telling even more strange tales that point people back to God and His incredible grace.


My Impressions:

If you like tech-heavy, futuristic sci-fi and want a story that is also faith-heavy, check out John Otte’s novel, Numb. Well-imagined societies and well-developed characters help to create a story that will keep you turning the pages. The faith message is strong and will make you think about your own stance on religion and freedom. Numb would be an excellent choice for a youth discussion as well.

Crusader believes he has been created with no emotions and no feelings of pain so that he can administer the justice of the Ministrix, the theocratic society that demands strict adherence to its dogma. But lately, he has had fleeting feelings and that, along with guilt, is upsetting his black and white world. When given an assignment to assassinate an enemy of the state, Crusader finds that he has questions, doubts and yes feelings that keep him from fulfilling his assignment. Isolda Westin, a member of a remnant of true believers has to decide whether to fear Crusader or trust him to preserve her life. Racing from planet to planet to asteroid and back, the pair face everything from betrayal by friends and help from enemies as they seek answers to long held secrets.

I had a bit of trouble getting into John Otte’s novel. I connected with the characters immediately, especially the assassin, Crusader. But I needed a little more information about the two main societies that ruled. I discovered much along the way, but would have preferred more detail at the first. As I said, I felt a connection to the characters, and it was that that kept me turning the pages. I really cared what was happening to them. The technological aspects of Numb were fun and inventive, but being mostly tech-challenged, I read them at face value without trying to figure out the hows of the science. That really worked for me; I would love to hear what the tech-junkies thought. Most of the plot lines are wrapped up at the end, but enough loose threads are left to make me think we might see Crusader and Isolda again. Romance, adventure, gadgets, and interplanetary/galactic travel all provide something for everyone.

I found the theology behind Numb very intriguing. You have two ruling societies, one that has embraced secular tolerance and one that has developed a theocracy based solely on God’s wrath and judgment without grace and love. Adherents of true faith were persecuted by both. I saw a lot of things that reminded me of our present day. That is why I think Numb would be good for a youth or college aged discussion. You have got some great sci-fi combined with what it means to be truly free. I also felt that Crusader was much like the Apostle Paul before his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road. Completely devoted to his church and his role within it, Crusader, like Paul, found out just who God really is.

Make sure to check out what the other participants on the tour have to say. Their links are at the end of this post.


(I received and ebook in conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase Numb, click on the image below.


Tour Participants:

Julie Bihn
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Nikole Hahn
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Shannon McNear
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Faye Oygard
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White

9 Responses to “Book Review: Numb”

  1. Keanan April 21, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

    I agree: The book would make a great conversation-starter among young people, or readers of any age. Great review.

    • rbclibrary April 21, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

      Thanks and thanks for stopping by Keanan!

  2. tkscap1912 April 21, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’ll admit, I was a little obscure on background information. Just my own way of doing things. 🙂

    • rbclibrary April 21, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, John. Congrats on the Christy nomination!

  3. Meagan Myhren-Bennett April 21, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    Liked your review. I have to say all the tech stuff reminded me of some of my fav sci-fi shows/movies. I’d like an enchanted forest full of teddy bears to play with my doxies right now (cabin fever and wanting spring).

  4. Julie Bihn April 21, 2014 at 9:54 pm #

    I liked the vague descriptions myself, though I admit I feel like I missed something since I don’t know what a “parrot” looks like. :/ Good review! I never would’ve thought of the Paul metaphor, but you are not the only one who did.

    • Rebecca LuElla Miller April 23, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

      Good point about the parrot, Julie. But I really loved that bit of technology. Made it seem as if Crusader could do about anything. I also liked becoming attached to the characters before being oriented to the world. It made me care more, I think, about what the place looked like and what the conflicts between the two governments were all about.


      • rbclibrary April 23, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

        Great points, Becky. Thanks for stopping by.


  1. 2014 Christy Award Nominees | BY THE BOOK - April 21, 2014

    […] Numb by John W. Otte (Marcher Lord Press) […]

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