Under the Watchful Sky
Publisher: Tumblar House
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Assistant Medical Director Derek Stevens is called in to verify what seems to be a simple case of suicide, but on closer examination he realizes that the death was a very cleverly disguised murder. This discovery leads him into a concealed world where he finds love and acceptance side-by-side with dark secrets and veiled dangers. Meanwhile, his friend and colleague Janice Boyd is being lured into a mysterious organization with a hidden and lethal agenda of its own. As the two learn more about the worlds in which they are becoming more deeply involved, their converging paths take them through terrible discoveries and into deadly peril.
Derek plays a virtual reality game where one woman character is seductive. There is brief sensual detail to let the reader know of Derek's intentions.
A girl is dressed immodestly and tries to seduce Derek.
Janice has a romantic encounter where she considers the possibility of sleeping with a man but it does not come to fruition.Violence & Gore: Moderate
There is an explosion and many people die, but none of this is graphic.
A man is bound to a chair and killed via injection.Profanity:Moderate
A man says "bitch" in frustration.Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking: Mild
There is some drinking at social events.
"The book is a great read—perfect to put into the hands of young people of high school and college age. The themes Mr. Thomas raises are vitally important, and the dystopia he creates seems all too possible." - Fr. Dwight Longenecker
"This is by far, the best 'Catholic' novel written since Michael O'Brien published FATHER ELIJAH 20 years ago. This is an absolute page turner, gripping the reader from beginning to end. Combine the intelligence of early Tom Clancy with the wit of Flannery O'Connor and the symbolism of Tolkien (there are Tolkien references throughout the book) and you'll come close to Roger Thomas. I was upset when I finished this, as I wanted to second in the series, NOW!" - Dr. Brad Birzer of Hillsdale College.
Filled with people you know by the end, fraught with potential tears and harrowing moments, punctuated with plot lines that twist delightfully and unexpectedly...Under the Watchful Sky is a book that will own you for the first reading and beg you for a second. Engaging, suspenseful, and excellent...dystopian done right. - Sarah Reinhard, Bestselling Author and Award-Winning Blogger, Word By Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary and SnoringScholar.com
With his novel Under the Watchful Sky, Roger Thomas skillfully draws together the strands of a story that feels altogether too real and possible. It builds into the kind of pacing one might anticipate from Dean Koontz. The conclusion is pulled together by one of the most memorable characters I've experienced in a long while, and leaves us a story that is both complete, and yet fertile ground for more exploration. - Michael Nicholas Richard, author of Tobit's Dog
Roger Thomas is a self-employed computer consultant and corporate instructor who lives in Michigan with his wife Ellen. They have raised six children and are now helping those children raise their 14 (at last count) grandchildren. He loves reading, especially works by the Inklings, and baking bread to enjoy with homemade grape jam. From Afar is his third book. For subsequent books in his Watchful Sky series, click here.
Under the Watchful Sky, by Roger Thomas, is filled with characters who you know by the end, people you find yourself turning to and maybe even conversing with throughout the story. There are tears involved, and there are plot twists that may make you say strong language words out loud.
(These are elements that make a good book, in my world.)
This is a book that will own you for the first reading and then beg you for a second time through. (I'll be picking it up during my "week off" very soon. Because I'm taking my own advice and reading it a second time.)
It's not only engaging, but also suspenseful. You'll intend to stop reading and find yourself staying awake for one...more...chapter...and then another one...
Dare I say it's dystopian done right? Yes, yes I do.
Very good opening book in the series
An important book that, through a dystopian lens, illuminates crises of today. Deep and methodical yet suspenseful and fast paced, UNDER THE WATCHFUL SKY is a noteworthy contribution to its genre. Roger Thomas manages through his craft to engage the reader without compromising thematic richness or philosophical insight. There were times when this reader found it exceedingly difficult to put the book down! While some portions of the novel are disturbing on account of the topics at hand, Thomas handles it well without graphic detail, and, while not a YA novel, SKY should be appropriate for many teens and young adults (with parental discretion, of course). It is also balanced with many beautiful moments of Light, including a stunning description of the instance of illumination on the part of a key character and the often overlooked 'little' occurrences in life. Without giving away the plot, I will say that I love how 'good versus evil' is so clearly highlighted through concrete groups that also exist in some form today, but may seem more nebulous to the outside.
While, as previously stated, this is dystopian literature, it is the sort of dystopian that may appeal to both fans of the genre and those who are less attuned to it. It appears to be set not too far in the future of today (a "what if", if you will), and comes off more as a mystery/thriller than science fiction. However you choose to define it, UNDER THE WATCHFUL SKY is a fascinating look into both wonderful story-building and society and culture at large. I eagerly await the next volume in the WATCHFUL SKY series!
I meant to review my 'review' before posting but clicked submit by accident. I was initially dreading the book as I had scanned it a little before properly reading it and came across dialogue here and there that seemed a bit preachy for my liking. I wondered if it was going to be like a book I found years ago that was catholic fiction but excruciating in the 'preachy' department that I couldn't finish it. I was dreading this one then and worried that I'd bought my husband a silly book but instead I was blown away! However, a warning to parents: although the author does not promote a world view that is immoral, some of the characters' behaviour are morally corrupt where sexual sins are committed (one in particular is pretty explicit), there is some bad language (to be expected by the miscreants) but not done for its own sake , there are gruesome murders and some other violent scenes. People might be fooled into thinking that faithful Catholic books are okay to leave lying around in a house with youth. This book is not one of those because youth under 18 most likely will not be ready for the issues treated in 'Under a Watchful Sky'. This was such a good read that once is not enough so I will be buying the kindle version just for me!
I got this for my husband for father's day but as he was reading Church of Spies at the time, he let me read it first! I had to endure quite a few exhausting days after reading the book the night before because I could not put it down. The last book that siezed my attention like this was Michael D. O'Brien's 'Island of the World'. I did have to warn my husband about the scene with Derek in his apartment playing his VR game; I felt the description of the encounter between him and the innkeeper's daughter was too explicit and could arouse the reader.
This is definitely a page-turner. It is not filled with high action and suspense but the story pulls you in and its simple straight-forward prose keeps it rolling. Sadly the setting is not at all far-fetched and do not be surprised when something similar comes to be in the "land of the free" in the upcoming decades. The novel is split into two halves, following Derek and Janice as their lives intertwine in very opposite ways. The depressing slide of Janice into evil is balanced out by Derek's discovery of the good, the beautiful and the true. The author is very conscience of this and balances it out, not dragging us endlessly through the evil, but instead giving the reader much respite with frequent turns to the uplifting story of Derek as he comes out of the hollowness from which he lived.
There is much evil headed our way as society continues its slide to the bottom floor of hell, of which as we know, there is no bottom floor. But there is hope and the story of Derek shows the way: faith, family, friends (and getting out cities).
I enjoyed this book so much. It was scary in so far as knowing the reality of it. It will happen sooner rather than later. Fiction is
in fact based on reality. I hope the next book in the series will be out soon. I give it a 5 star for sure.
Wow! This is an amazing book! I bought it for my husband who isn't much of a reader and usually doesn't manage to finish a book. He finished this one in record time. He would stay up after midnight reading, or I would find him up at 5:00 a.m. with the book in his hand. He's been talking about it ever since he finished it. Can't wait to start reading it myself.
Even though I'm not finished with the book yet, I find the story very interesting and reflecting the "signs of the times."
What makes "Under the Watchful Sky" so remarkable is that the events it describes could easily be happening in today's society. That little bit of realism makes the stakes much higher and the characters more relatable. It doesn't require much imagination to wonder how we would fare if we were faced with the same sort of decisions that Derek and Janice face. Would we have the strength to stand firm, or would we find ourselves caving in without putting up a fight?