06-03-2012 02:14 PM
Hello, I am looking for the title of a book I read many years ago as a child; I actually remember quite a lot of the plot, but for the life of me I cannot think of the title or the author.
The plot was a Christian metaphorical science fiction tale that tells the story of a young woman who signs up to be a subject for a "self improvement" trial that involves what she thinks is just a virtual reality at the insistence of her friend. She doesn't feel she needs this self improvement as she is very independent and strong willed. However, she recognizes that she is lonely and something is missing from her life.
The young woman is told before she enters the virtual reality to "stay on the right path" and her journey will be safe and pleasant.
She finds herself transported to another world in a desert-like habitat. She chooses to ignore the advice of the technician and goes about her own choice of path, resulting in her being attacked by some local fauna. She is rescued by a young man who takes her to a small village where she decides to band together with a group of other travellers who all attempting to reach a specific city that is some distance from where they are. The wilderness has large lizards and other dangerous fauna, as well as a race of sentient Orc-like, troll creatures that often fight with humans. Walls of natural energy exist that people will often walk through or expose themselves to feel a euphoric, high.
She and this small group of humans band together and travel to the faraway city. Along the way she begins to fall in love with a young man who is dressed and acts like a typical Texas ranch cowboy. Eventually they make it to the city where they must "rise" to a new level by riding some type of elevator up a very large cliff. Once to the top of the cliff they begin the next part of their journey. The couple continues to fall in love, and the young man becomes a leader of the band of travelers. They are preparing for a dangerous journey to another location, and he is desperately studying materials and encouraging his followers to have faith that they will be supported by the God figure of the world. Eventually he leads the travelers into the wilderness where they are finally confronted by the antagonist of the book: the antagonist is a king-like figure that tyranically rules the world and uses force and fear to maintain his power; he represents temptation and self indulgence. At this point in the story, the young woman also meets up with her original friend who encouraged her to partake in the self-improvement trial: this girl has joined the antagonist's side. The young woman is dressed in a green dress and offered food and riches if she joins his side. When she refuses she I think she is to be offered as a sacrifice or given to the king as a concubine.
There is a climactic battle where the young woman is eventually rescued by her lover who has recovered from the forced "energy wave exposure" of the antagonist, as they are escaping her lover is fatally wounded and dies or falls unconcious just as they are about to leave the world.
The young woman wakes up and realizes that everything she has experienced wasn't real. She goes to some type of a party later on remembering everything and living a changed life because of her experiences. She meets the man with whom she fell in love with in the virtual reality at this party; he is indeed a young rancher but does not seem to have any memory of their relationship in this virtual world though they both acknowledge that they feel as if they have met before. She decides to get to know the young rancher and the book ends.
The cover shows the back a young woman with long reddish brown hair pulled into a braid standing in front of a pair or trio of tall rings through which she must walk. The overall background is blue and the rings are yellow or white.
Any advice or help is much appreciated. Thank you!
06-29-2012 10:08 PM
The book you are looking for is "Arena" by Karen Hancock. It is one of my favorites.
07-05-2012 04:16 PM
Thanks! I actually went back to my hometown last week and perused the entire Inspirational Fiction section of the local library until I found the book. I just finished reading it a few minutes ago and now I have Hancock's "The Enclave" to start. Thanks a lot for the response!