Nikki Arana’s, The Next Target, is a gripping suspense novel filled with complex characters, faith - defined and tested, and a thrill ride of a plot you’ll definitely want to tuck into your beach bag this summer.
Ever since 9/11 Islam is a touchy subject. Bring up Muslims, even in a Christian environment, and hackles are raised. All Muslims blow things up, right? I mean, whenever you see a burqa-clad woman on the street doesn’t your heart rate goes up just a bit?
Kudos to Nikki Arana and her latest book, The Next Target, for challenging my thinking on all things Muslim with a high action, thought-provoking novel that challenged that broad brush I’ve been painting with.
Meet American Austia Donatelli a widow whose husband was killed witnessing to Muslims in Kuwait. Struggling to find God’s way in her grief, she finds herself heading up a career center in the midst of an Arab neighbor on the south side of Los Angeles. But her heart felt mission is more than finding jobs for recent immigrants; it’s sharing the love of Christ to the Muslim women in her English As A Second Language class. But it’s dangerous work. Accepting Jesus as Savior is an affront to Allah and is worthy of a death sentence to both the convert and to the person sharing Christ. Extremist Muslim families don’t take this lightly, and Austia finds herself in the middle of an Islamic plot, which could lead to the biggest terrorist act on US soil since the towers came down.
Yes, sir, it’s a page turner that makes you stop and think. Arana approaches her characters, both Muslim and Christian, with great compassion and understanding. As Austia grapples with forgiveness for those who killed her husband, she finds that Christ’s love for her and for the Muslim people is sufficient not only to give her the courage to face opposition and danger at the hands of extremists, but to be truly family to Muslims she has come to respect and care for without looking down on them for not accepting the Savior she has devoted her life to.
Through her characters she shows that our perspective of Muslims and Christians may not be as clear as it could be. There are Muslims filled with hate toward America, and Muslims who love this country – and are willing to die for it. There are Christians who are heavy handed and clumsy in their approach, and there are Christians who love as Jesus would love.
If I were teaching a class on witnessing to Muslims, I would make The Next Target required reading. Arana’s knowledge of Muslim culture permeates the pages of Next Target giving it an authenticity that makes the novel impactful. More than just a thriller, it is a testimony.
Kindle copy of The Next Target courtesy of David C. Cook publishing in exchange for an honest review.