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Full Tilt by Creston Mapes

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Review of Full Tilt

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The Advocate

Full Tilt
by Creston Mapes

Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

"An exciting, heartening novel perfect for everybody."

Once the lead singer of the popular rock band Deathstroke, Everett Lester was a tarnished soul lost in a haze of fame, money, drugs and alcohol. Now he’s a creature saved by God's grace, rescued from hell by the dedicated, loving ministry of his new wife Karen and the miraculous workings of the Holy Spirit.

Everett has a new lease on life. He's free from jail, exonerated from wrongful murder charges, and preparing to embark on his new calling: a nationwide musical tour to use his talents to spread the gospel of salvation. However, Deathstroke and his old life's legacy still exists, and not only does Everett face ridicule from old fans and immediate family members, but he struggles with the birthing pains all new Christians face: how to reconcile the callings of Christ with old temptations and fears, as well as figuring out how to serve the Lord and be true to your personality and individuality? He feels fear and doubt; experiences temptation, is wracked by guilt, makes mistakes, and despairs of ever fulfilling his new calling: taking the message of Christ and meeting people where they are; impacting people like him.

Though Everett stands firm in the grip of his new faith with the help and love of Karen, Satan despises the work of the good, and will do anything to stop it---often resorting to weapons that are close up and personal.

When his brother Eddie comes to Everett to help pay off his gambling bets to the mob, Everett initially thinks he's paying his brother a one-time favor, however, it becomes much, much worse as he and his whole family are pulled unwillingly into the seedy crime underworld.

Meanwhile, Eddie's family is falling apart, threatening to pull Everett and Karen into a dark whirlpool of bitterness, pride, and greed, on the brink of their Living Waters tour. Eddie and his alcoholic wife Shelia teeter on the brink of divorce, their daughter Madison may never go to college to pursue her love of art because of the upheaval tearing her family apart, and Wesley (hooked on methamphetamines) blames the old Everett for dismissing two of his greatest fans: he and his younger brother David. He also blames Everett for David's death.

Full Tilt is Creston Mapes' second novel, the follow-up to his first, Dark Star, which introduces readers to Everett Lester and chronicles his rocky, often dangerous road to salvation. In Full Tilt, Mapes presents the life of a new Christian without a rose-colored lens; though saved and aware of a new truth, new Christians make mistakes, feel doubt, and struggle to square their new outlook on life with who they really are.

Mapes shows a very accurate, no-nonsense portrayal of this struggle: not all Christians have been raised in Christian homes, always attended church three times a week, made the right decisions, and gone to Bible College. Striking out as a new Christian is often a messy, gut-wrenching, soul-searching journey that is not for the timid, and Creston shows us what it is like on the other side of the tracks, where people still love the Lord as much as those who’ve been Christians their whole lives.

He writes with authority concerning the rock and roll scene and its pitfalls, dangers, and finds the right milieu. He also highlights an important need, especially in a rapidly changing world: the need for Christians to take Christ and meet people where they are, rather than badgering them to climb a lofty pedestal of legalism they are ill-equipped to scale. Also, Mapes remembers why he's writing in the first place: to impact lives for God, and he includes a very helpful devotional reader's guide at the end of the novel.

The climax of the novel wraps up a little quickly and a few loose-ends are left untied, but those could easily be used as jumping off points for another sequel. All in all, Full Tilt is an exciting, heartening novel perfect for everybody, but perhaps also especially for that "hard rocker" in your life that is searching for something more.

Kevin LuciaKevin Lucia Kevin Lucia writes for The Press & Sun Bulletin and The Relief Journal. His short fiction has appeared in Coach’s Midnight Diner, The Relief Journal, All Hallows, Darkened Horizons Vol. 3 & 4, NexGen Pulp Magazine Issues 1 & 4, From the Shadows, Morpheus Tales Magazine, Bohemian-Alien, Shroud Publishing’s horror anthology, Abominations, and Tyndale House’s inspirational anthology Life Savors. He’s currently writing a novella for Shroud Publishing’s upcoming novella series, The Hiram Grange Chronicles. He resides in Castle Creek, New York, with his wife Abby, daughter Madison and son Zackary. He teaches high school English at Seton Catholic Central High School in Binghamton, New York; and is finishing his Masters of Arts in Creative Writing at Binghamton University. Visit him at his website and Myspace page.