Dylan Mahoney is an outcast. She used to have friends, good grades, and the trust of her parents. But that was before a certain short-lived boyfriend, a viral video of her attacking his car with a golf club, and a few photos of a very naked Dylan sent via text message. Abandoned and alone, Dylan turns to the Internet, and finds a new obsession—the blogs of fundamentalist Christian girls, the type who live on farms in the middle of nowhere and have six siblings. Dylan, fascinated, creates her own blog with her own persona, pen-named Faith. But when she finds herself actually living amongst the bloggers, has her deception gone too far?
I read Faking Faith in a single sitting. Like, without getting up. Sat down. Read book. It didn’t take long. It’s a relatively quick read, and there aren’t any real stopping points until the very end. It’s not so much that there are massive cliff-hangers at the end of every chapter, but it’s like reading TVTropes, or Dylan’s blogs—once you start, you’re pulled in by some weird fascination that doesn’t allow you to put the book down. The plot is just so different from the usual. The feasibility of Dylan’s trip to the home of one of her favorite bloggers might be questionable, but reading about the family she stays with is too interesting to think about it all that much.
Still, just because I was sucked in the whole time doesn’t mean I was impressed the whole time. The beginning of the book is an information dump—the first four chapters are primarily dedicated to a summary of Dylan’s life over the past six months. While it didn’t entirely put me off reading, it did bother me. By the end of the history, I was bored of all the info-dump and couldn’t wait to get into the part of the novel that actually sounds like a novel, instead of just an extended plot summary. The family Dylan stays with at times seems too canned—there is nothing surprising about them, nothing about them that one wouldn’t expect based on their identity as religious fundamentalists. It’s not that Faking Faith is a regurgitation of stereotypes or that the author didn’t research, but I still wasn’t entirely satisfied by the characterization.
Dylan really doesn’t appeal to me at all as a narrator. In real life, I guess she’d be an acquaintance—not someone I would be friends with, but not someone I dislike. In a novel, though, she’s annoying. She’s surprised too often by her host family’s behavior. She seems to lack a basic understanding of the culture and lifestyle of fundamentalist Christians, despite having read endless blogs about them. Her cluelessness doesn’t seem to fit.
Overall, Faking Faith is an interesting book on an original topic. I enjoyed reading it, and stayed intrigued the whole time. There’s a bit of romance, a bit of deception, some moral questioning. It’s not all that hard-hitting or controversial, but for a quick read, it’s at the least a solid, interesting one.
Kat Alexander is a Figment Reviewer who (clearly) loves to read and comment. She’s active on a number of sites including NaNo, Fiction Press, and FanFiction under aneko24.