The final of the 3 books by Terri Blackstock I've chosen to review is Predator. This is both a timely and informative work of suspense on a different level. This was truly and up all night suspense.
The story begins before we open to the first page. We are attending the funeral services of Emily Carmichael, dead at 14, and view the story through the eyes of her sister, Krista. How was a Christian, good girl dead at the tender age of 14? Krista traces some things out and finds that her activities on GrapeVyne, an online social network, provided her attacker with all the information he needed to find Emily when she was most vulnerable. Krista, feeling she has failed at protecting her sister, sets out on a crusade to protect others from online predators. Her first stop is GrapeVyne, and its creator Ryan Adkins. Her explosive confrontation with him masks her own feelings of devastation. Meanwhile her father keeps sinking deeper and deeper in depression. This God-appointed meeter between Krista and Ryan, coupled with the continued actions of the predator and the depths of depression we find the father in make for some dynamics that is, well, artful, while at the same time impressing on us the importance of knowing what we are doing when we are online.
I'm not going to go into the story too much, because it is so well crafted I don't want to ruin it for you. I will say this, after reading this I was so moved that I began talking to friends and family members about their online activities. I've caught myself starting to say something in a "comment" which would have been plastered all over my "friends" sites (much like the "Thought Bubbles" mentioned in Predator). It is so easy to let something slip. It's so easy to tell people that you are going to a certain store or event at that moment, and through a series of other slips a predator can find out what your real name is, where you live (even sometimes the actual street address), know your current age, gender, interests, when you are alone, when you feel vulnerable, when you feel safe, who you trust and who you would be wary of. Taking all of this information predators go after their prey. The most common predator is the sexual predator. Girls, you post photos of yourself that show locations as well as, in many cases, too much skin. You tease, imply, flirt. And all the while a sexual predator is taking all of this down. Too many people find themselves victims of sexual predators and others simply because they supplied them all the information. I can't impress on you strong enough how Predator, by Terri Blackstock has restructured the way I view things online. Read it and let it change the way you do things and look at things. It's not enough to trust in the Lord. Sometimes God asks that you use the common sense He gave you. When you don't you step out from under His protection, and the results can be devastation.
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