not awful, not great
I want to deal with this book in two aspects—the story, and the theology.
The story: It turned out to be more of a romance than a suspense or thriller type of book. While some things written about the International Space Station were interesting, the focus was usually put on the romance triangle, and it was just kinda so-so. Hildi was an ok character, though I thought she treated Dan rather badly. And why Dan still wanted to be with her after, for example, leaving him stranded on a beach, I don't understand. And for Frank, he got to play the role of the guy who kept messing things up and making bad situations even worse.
The parallel story of Hildi's parents, and the people around them, could have had a bit more punch. There was certainly enough material with them to make up its own book, but while it has some moving moments, it never really gets to much depth.
Chet was the most interesting character, but also in some ways the most iffy. Would it really be that easy for a disgruntled CDC employee to get into an infectious disease lab, hid a vial, and get out? Especially on the spur of the moment? And the book said the he checked the vial's label to make sure that it wasn't anything seriously bad, the book called it H1N2, but he later sees the label again and sees that it actually is a serious bug, something called H4N6. This mistake, though, is not explained, especially since he made sure to check the vial when he selected it as the one to sneak out.
Theology: For a story riddled with ministers, prayer, and other things Christian, it seemed like the Gospel itself was like the proverbial bush that people beat all around, but never quite get into. Let me give an example.
One character, Hildi's father, who has just learned that he is about to die, says, “I've done these seminars to atone for my sins.” While the friend comforting him starts out by saying “Do you believe Jesus' sacrifice was sufficient for everything you've done, past, present, and future?”, his words then turn into some kind of a motivational speech about all the good the guy had done, with the last thought from that minister in this section of the book was “Maybe his life had counted after all”.
This was an excellent place for the Gospel to be told to this man who was having some doubts so close to death, and while something like a “Gospel nugget” (HT Fighting for the Faith) was given, the man was quickly pushed past that to look at his own works. I doubt the author meant it this way, but that does come off as something like work-righteousness, especially just after the man had said that he was trying to do good works to atone for his sins. But out good works do not save us, our works of righteousness are no better than filthy rags, and we sure can't use them to atone for our sins. The righteousness God gives us through Christ is not earned by works of the law, but is given through faith in Jesus Christ. That is mentioned, true, but I wish it had been dwelt on more, instead of jumping to the “You've changed the world” type of motivational jargon.
This is the kind of book that might have benefited from being longer, so that things could have been explained better and the overall story would not have felt so hurried. As it is, it's only a so-so book to me, something that I neither liked overly much, nor disliked.