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Save the girl...or his soul?

Crusader is numb. He feels neither emotion nor pain, a divine gift that allows him to be the Ministrix's best assassin.

Whether it's heretics from within or heathens from without, Crusader is the sword in the True Church's hand. And if he remains obedient to his superiors, he will be able to let go of his guilt.

But then he's ordered to kill Isolda Westin. It shouldn't be a problem. A target is a target. When Crusader sees Isolda's image, though, something strange happens. He experiences a moment of panic, a wave of emotions--the first he's felt in as long as he can remember.

In that moment, he realizes he can't fulfill his mission. He can't kill Isolda Westin, even if it means he'll be condemned as an enemy of the Ministrix.

Soon Crusader and Isolda are on the run. Will they be able to learn why the Ministrix wants Isolda dead? Or will they both soon face the harsh justice of the "True Church"?

402 pages, Paperback

First published August 28, 2013

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John W. Otte

17 books109 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 38 reviews
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 168 books37.5k followers
May 16, 2014
Just the thing to read yesterday when it was over a hundred degrees and my brain was frying. How could I resist a fast-paced space opera written by a Christian in which the organized Christian church are the villains?

Crusader is numb, an assassin with no feelings and no memories. He's really good at killing, so good that when the Ministrix, the top command of the Church WAY Militant come to kill him, he evades, while still trying to kill his latest assignment, Isolda. Only he can't bring himself to kill her. Meanwhile the godless Praesidium is understandably after him, considering how much damage he's done to them.

This leads to slam bang chases, with all kinds of sfnal gadgetry and wormholes and a cool device called a parrot, as Crusader and Isolda try to escape everybody who's after them, and at the same time try to figure out why. I thought the mystery was pretty good; some of the characters did not quite come into focus (though at that pace, it's not so much an issue). My only real complaint concerns Isolda--why she would go anywhere with Crusader, given how strong she is, and how able to figure out some nifty get-arounds. I could not believe .

All told, thoroughly enjoyable.
Profile Image for John Otte.
Author 17 books109 followers
August 28, 2013
Well, come on. Of course I'm going to love this. But I think it's a fun story and a great read.
Profile Image for Jill Williamson.
Author 64 books1,438 followers
August 29, 2013
I read an early version of this book. I think it is amazing. It's a cross between Terminator and Star Wars. Super cool. I can't wait to read the final, and when I do, I'll post a new review. But I'm sure it only got better!
Profile Image for Shannon McDermott.
Author 12 books169 followers
April 24, 2014
Crusader is the best assassin the Church has, carrying out all his missions with heartless thoroughness. He is intelligent and methodical in his work, his skills well-honed. And he’s numb. No pain can stop him, no emotions can get in his way.

Until he is assigned a new victim and, for reasons he doesn’t understand, he can’t kill her.

Numb is a science fiction novel written by John Otte and published by Marcher Lord Press. The various technological trappings of the story give it a feel of classic blaster-and-spaceships sci-fi. I loved the idea of the space stations and of the Ceres colonizers. The abandoned Waystation was particularly evocative, giving me a feeling of how vast space is and how very easy for even large things to get lost.

The world-building showed some very nice touches; the cube-shaped New Jerusalem Station is one of them. The parrot was an intriguing bit of technology, and the Praesidium and the True Church were a matched pair: the two extreme ends of the same spectrum.

The True Church is essentially a speculative version of the pre-Reformation Catholic Church, transplanted from the Middle Ages to outer space. You could list the discrepancies between the True Church and even the medieval Catholic Church, but it still mirrors the Roman church in its political intrigue, persecution of heretics, and attempted subjugation of infidels. Alongside this, names like Inquisitor and Crusader and the Cathedral of Light are only superficial similarities.

If I had to name one fault of this book, it would be that characters’ actions didn’t always logically follow their motivations. It happened rarely, and even then was usually minor. One character, for example, showed himself wary of certain visitors to his installation but then casually shared vital information about the place.

In one place, however, it wasn’t minor. Reason would caution against helping, and then falling for, a bloody-handed assassin, especially one who had been assigned to kill you. But that’s what Isolda did. I think her decisions could have been justified, but she made them too quickly and with too little explanation.

Numb is a fast-paced story that takes surprising turns and, in it all, leaves space to the characters, through whom the novel gains emotional power. Add an intriguing framework built from the history of our past and theories of our future, and Numb establishes itself as a winning piece of sci-fi.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for Maegen.
9 reviews
October 1, 2013
I'm going to go ahead and give this one a full 5 stars. I absolutely loved this book. The characters were realistic, the plot was interesting and the quality of the writing was good. The only thing that was lacking was more. I hope there is a sequel.

Now, for a plot blurb I recommend reading the back cover or another review that goes into more detail. I'll just tell you why I liked this book so much.

I really loved the character, Isolda. She was lifelike. She was competent but not arrogant, feminine but not over the top which made her way easier to connect with than most female characters. She has the ability to see where she is weak and that is ultimately part of her strength. This character subtly draws you in.

Then there is Crusader, who for a nearly emotionless character, is easy to like. I think as a reader, you start to worry for him since he wont worry about himself. As his story unfolds, so does his personality.

I also like that the story was very personal to the characters and had more to do with their lives than what they were trying to accomplish.

If there is a sequel, I would really like to see more of Isolda's story brought to life.

All and all, its totally worth reading.

Profile Image for Tom.
3 reviews
January 4, 2014
This is great book, once I started I could not put it down.
Profile Image for Becky B.
7,492 reviews93 followers
November 12, 2014
Crusader is the Ministrix's sword to do God's work, specially anointed for the job by his inability to feel pain or emotion. He eliminates those who deserve punishments, and hopes that his acts will earn him forgiveness from the guilt that plagues him. His latest assignment, to take out a heretic Isolde, should be routine, but Crusader has trouble following his orders. Of course, the fact that another agent gets in the way and seems to have contrary orders makes things a little difficult, the more disturbing thing is the breakdown of his numbness whenever he sees the target. During the temporary glitch in the assignment, Crusader does some digging on why another agent has appeared on what was supposedly a solo mission. What he finds, makes him put the mission on hold, long enough to interrogate Isolde and reevaluate what is really going on. Because something is definitely going on. Both the Ministrix and the opposing Praesidium seem to be very interested in this Isolde, and Crusader can't figure out exactly why nor why there now seems to be a target on his head as well.

I have read two of Otte's other books aimed at the middle school and teen crowd, so I was expecting more of a similar fair, but this writing is on a whole other level. Don't get me wrong, the Failstate books are good and are popular with the target audience. But reading those I just had no idea Otte had it in him to write such a sophisticated science fiction novel for an older audience. I tore through this book, and was left satisfied with the ending, but still craving more of this future science fiction universe Otte has created. (One request for more books in this series, please!) Crusader is a very appropriate name for the main character, as in many ways he reflects the Crusaders of old, fighting in the name of a God they didn't seem to know or fully understand. The Ministrix is a plausible future perversion of Christianity (plausible, because we've seen similar things in the past, like in the time of the Crusades), and it is also then equally plausible that more traditional evangelistic views of Christianity would be seen as heretical and would be forced "underground." The addition of the opposing Praesidium group that is totally atheistic and swings to the opposite extreme of banning all religions is also a plausible movement, and it added a little extra something to the politics of the universe. Of course, what really had me psyched was all the scifi tech stuff, which I soaked up and thoroughly enjoyed. (Yes, I'm a nerd, but I'm ok with that.) It's been too long since I've read a good ol' sci-fi book with space travel and fun tech advances. (Part of why I want more from Otte in this universe. There really aren't many Christian books out there that do sci-fi well.) I liked that neither Isolde or Crusader seems to have it all together. It is not easy to predict how each individual character in the story will behave. Whether main or secondary characters, most don't easily fit stereotypes. My one qualm with the book was the development of the romance between Crusader and Isolde. Yes, Crusader's side I understand, it has some good reasons behind it which are eventually revealed. But Isolde's attraction seems to be an odd mix of mercy, pity for the way Crusader has been used by authority, and a little Stockholm syndrome that all seemed should be at odds with the difference in beliefs and the fact that he tried to kill her. I felt it was a bit rushed on Isolde's side (ok, more than a bit rushed, one minute he's trying to kill her, the next minute she wants to give him a hug??), but eventually it worked, though if there is a sequel I see these two needing to work through a whole lot of issues before they go much farther in their relationship. Romantic issues asside, it was a fantastic read and left me in that post-traumatic fantastic book finishing. I despaired of picking up any of my other current reads as they just couldn't hope to satisfy as well.

Notes on content: No language issues. No sexual content beyond a kiss. There is a fair bit of violence. Crusader is an assassin and he's good at his job. There are four assassinations/murders by Crusader or others described. Numerous people are killed or wounded with laser shots or knives. Occasionally there are descriptions of wounds but mostly just mentions being burnt or broken or bloody with minimal further info, also the fact that medical care is advanced and can repair some serious stuff pretty quickly helps make it less severe. Several people are killed or injured in explosions (no graphic descriptions) and more are disabled with tranq darts.
Profile Image for Michelle R. Wood.
41 reviews13 followers
September 8, 2016
Remember when you were a kid and you watched your favorite movie twenty times in a row? Remember how you gasped at sagas that you might now acknowledge aren't as amazing as you once thought, but nonetheless have a special place in your heart?

Numb by John Otte is such a story, even if it isn't old enough to qualify for nostalgia. It's not perfect, not by a long shot, but it's got a lot of heart that tugs you forward in spite of the flaws.

To summarize: Crusader is an assassin for an intergalactic government known as the Ministrix, a pseudo-Christian militant theocracy. The title comes from Crusader's condition; namely, he feels no pain, no remorse, no pleasure. He's the perfect tool to deal the Minixtrix's form of divine justice. But when he's assigned to hit a lowly ship's engineer, one Isolda Westin, his numb existence begins to thaw, dangerously. Isolda, for her part, is a plain Jane soon caught up in the cold war between the Ministrix and its chief rival, the Praesidium. When Crusader himself is targeted by his own government, the two must work together to uncover truths with both personal and interstellar ramifications.

First, the flaws: the book dragged at times, especially in the first half. Some chapters served no other purpose than to have a character reflect on the same emotional reactions already experienced. As with many eBooks I've read lately, there were a few typos sprinkled in the text; none glaring, but still noticeable. I've read two other books by this author. While his writing is decent, there's no finesse or sparkle, no individual style that engages on a pure word or sentence level. I saw a few of the plot twists coming a couple of chapters before their reveal, while in other places plot threads that began with ominous portent fizzled into the background.

Despite these cracks in the road, I enjoyed the ride. It's part James Bond, part Star Wars, part something all of its own, like homemade donuts sprinkled with store brand powdered sugar. Once the plot revved up I got really attached to the characters, cheering them on. My few pangs of disappointment in their development grew from that attachment: I wanted more from them, and fortunately, the book delivered some of that depth the further I dove in.

I was genuinely surprised at how Otte avoided the more outrageous stereotypical shenanigans plaguing many such tales: while Crusader does take down multiple antagonists on more than one occasion, he's never able to supersede real mortality. To take on more than two at a time he needs help, and he's unable to free himself from every situation.

Crusader also presented a great case study in character, as he worked through the lies surrounding him to try to discover real truth. I appreciated that even when he, and by extension the reader, discovers his true identity and background, he didn't stop being the same person. There was no sudden transformation or outpouring of a previously unknown sunny disposition. Otte doesn't trivialize his character's humanity. Instead he presents a person done great wrong to, who in turn has done great wrong, and how such a person might adjust to a confrontation of his entire life's beliefs.

I wish the same could be said of the story's heroine. Isolda's scattered personality (bordering on ditzy in places) felt at odds with her background and experiences; the little depth she gained toward the end didn't feel as earned as Crusader's. The chapters from her viewpoint contained most of the filler I mentioned earlier. She functioned mainly as a plot point to goad on those around her. Fear not, though: Otte is quite capable of drawing well-defined, great female characters, and such women appear late in the book in brief but powerful roles.

The ideas played with in the book, particularly how different groups interpret the meaning of divine service and self defense, are challenging and well-developed. The menace of the Ministrix looms over everything but not solely due to its Evil Empire vibe. The corruption of good ideals and the danger even the best of us may face in our zeal to do right is explored as the greatest threat. Otte's worldbuilding and scifi vision is the book's greatest asset, and while there's plenty of homage to his influences, he develops several nifty concepts I'd love to see explored more fully.

I'd encourage anyone interested in a fun trip to take this story out for a spin. It's not the slickest ship in the 'verse, but it will take you to the stars.
Profile Image for Victor Gentile.
2,035 reviews52 followers
April 25, 2014
John W. Otte in his new book, “Numb” published by Marcher Lord Press introduces us to Crusader.

From the back cover: Save the girl…or his soul?

Crusader is numb. He feels neither emotion nor pain, a divine gift that allows him to be the Ministrix’s best assassin. Whether it’s heretics from within or heathen from without, Crusader is the sword in the True Church’s hand. And if he remains obedient to his superiors, he will be able to let go of his guilt.

But then he’s ordered to kill Isolda Westin. It shouldn’t be a problem. A target is a target. When Crusader sees Isolda’s image, though, something strange happens. He experiences a moment of panic, a wave of emotions, the first he’s felt in as long as he can remember.

In that moment, he realizes he can’t fulfill his mission. He can’t kill Isolda Westin, even if it means he’ll be condemned as an enemy of the Ministrix.

Soon Crusader and Isolda are on the run. Will they be able to learn why the Ministrix wants Isolda dead? Or will they both face the harsh justice of the “True Church”?

An assassin. A hit man for hire by the True Church. The man feels neither physical pain nor emotion. That makes him perfect for the job. Every one says that God made him that way however there is a certain amount of doubt when he decides that he cannot complete his latest mission. This is grand storytelling that has many facets to it and is meant to be enjoyed and savored. Great characters in Crusader and Isolda and the villains have never been more evil. This is a story about redemption and how God really made us and not the way that we are shaped and used by society for their purposes. Plus it is an action adventure thriller that will have you flipping pages and giving up sleep to finish this book. And there is even a romance. I am so looking forward to more from this very talented author perhaps he will give us a sequel.

Numb - http://www.amazon.com/Numb-John-W-Ott...
Author Website - http://johnwotte.com/

There are others who are participating in this tour. Please check out there websites for their inciteful reviews:

Julie Bihn
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Nikole Hahn
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Shannon McNear
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Faye Oygard
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White

Disclosure of Material Connection: In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Profile Image for Jalynn Patterson.
2,122 reviews31 followers
April 7, 2014
About the Book:

Save the girl...or his soul?

Crusader is numb. He feels neither emotion nor pain, a divine gift that allows him to be the Ministrix's best assassin.

Whether it's heretics from within or heathens from without, Crusader is the sword in the True Church's hand. And if he remains obedient to his superiors, he will be able to let go of his guilt.

But then he's ordered to kill Isolda Westin. It shouldn't be a problem. A target is a target. When Crusader sees Isolda's image, though, something strange happens. He experiences a moment of panic, a wave of emotions--the first he's felt in as long as he can remember.

In that moment, he realizes he can't fulfill his mission. He can't kill Isolda Westin, even if it means he'll be condemned as an enemy of the Ministrix.

Soon Crusader and Isolda are on the run. Will they be able to learn why the Ministrix wants Isolda dead? Or will they both soon face the harsh justice of the "True Church"?

About the Author:

John W. Otte grew up in Columbia Heights, a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. When he was younger, he dreamed of being a superhero, fueled by reading collections of Superman and Batman comics. Instead, he attended college at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he majored in theatre. He graduated summa cum laude in 1996 and then attended Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, where he received his Master of Divinity in 2000. He now serves as a pastor in South St. Paul, Minnesota, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

He has published short stories in The Leading Edge Magazine and Dragons, Knights, and Angels in 2006. He was a ACFW Genesis Contest Finalist in 2008. His debut novel, Failstate, was a finalist for the 2013 Christy Awards. He is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and participates in the Speculative Faith blog.

My Review:

Crusader is numb, which in a way makes him a good assassin but his life is filled with dullness. He never feels remorse for his victims or even show them mercy. He has a job to do and a job he's very good at. He soon receives yet another mission, one for a pretty woman. She was soon to be gone from this world, because of the sins she had committed. That's what his job was all about, taking out the sinners, showing glory to God by getting rid of the bad. Though it seemed kind of twisted, Crusader didn't question it. Then he saw her.

Isolda has always tried to do right by people. She tries to help everyone the best she can. Now she is being told an assassin is after her. One who disposes of the sinners, one thing she has tried not to be. The only thing keeping her safe is a mysterious man and her wits. But when Isolda lays eyes on him, she finds him quite stunning. With his dark and sharp features, she can hardly believe he is an assassin and here for her life.


In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for Amber.
1,196 reviews33 followers
April 17, 2014
If you are looking for a non-stop action, suspense ridden, edge-of-your-seat thriller then this is the story for you! There is nothing slow or boring about this book. You are immediately set upon an already fast-paced journey, and it doesn’t disappoint or fizzle into oblivion. Never-ending intrigue and unnerving tension ride the edges of this highly original and wildly entertaining sci-fi saga.

Crusader is a trained assassin who follows his orders to the letter. He never questions; he only obeys. His life is simple and uncomplicated. He does what he is told and in return he will eventually get the absolution and forgiveness he desires above all. He shows no emotion and no weakness until he receives orders to kill Isolda Westin. She evokes sudden and unexplainable changes within him. These changes manifest themselves as useless emotions that he has always been able to turn off without a second thought. This is not normal. His performance goes from perfect to sloppy, and his mind is suddenly a tangled mess. The only thing he knows for sure is that he needs to keep Isolda alive long enough to figure out what is wrong with him. She is the key to restoring him to perfect working order and bringing his muddled life back into focus. Will they survive long enough to solve this strange mystery, or will they become the next target themselves?

Crusader is an immensely fascinating character. When we first meet him, he functions more like a robot then a human being. He has been perfected and honed to the lethal precision that has molded his reputation over the years. Mistakes are not an option, and so he ensures that his planning is flawless, his performance is precise, and his results are perfect. Only through carrying out his missions is he able to get closer to achieving that which he wants more than anything – forgiveness and favor. He never sees the storm that Isolda brings into his life until it is too late. He is already in the middle of the maelstrom before he realizes that he is hopelessly lost and needs help to get through it. In the end, he will lose more than just his sense of direction.

The other characters that we meet are just complex and wonderful as Crusader. I very much enjoy when things aren’t what they seem, and I was not disappointed in the surprises that I discovered throughout this story. I was able to get to know each character in a very intimate way that left me with a healthy dose of respect and admiration for each of them. Each one played a crucial part and helped to deepen and enhance the already incredible plot.

I would love to see further development from this main plot as there is so much potential for future stories. John W. Otte has created such a versatile and engaging story that could easily be enhanced to epic proportions. It feels like he has just begun to scratch the surface of his creative potential, and I am eager to see what he creates next.

1,107 reviews
April 21, 2014
If you like tech-heavy, futuristic sci-fi and want a story that is also faith-heavy, check out John Otte’s novel, Numb. Well-imagined societies and well-developed characters help to create a story that will keep you turning the pages. The faith message is strong and will make you think about your own stance on religion and freedom. Numb would be an excellent choice for a youth discussion as well.

Crusader believes he has been created with no emotions and no feelings of pain so that he can administer the justice of the Ministrix, the theocratic society that demands strict adherence to its dogma. But lately, he has had fleeting feelings and that, along with guilt, is upsetting his black and white world. When given an assignment to assassinate an enemy of the state, Crusader finds that he has questions, doubts and yes feelings that keep him from fulfilling his assignment. Isolda Westin, a member of a remnant of true believers has to decide whether to fear Crusader or trust him to preserve her life. Racing from planet to planet to asteroid and back, the pair face everything from betrayal by friends and help from enemies as they seek answers to long held secrets.

I had a bit of trouble getting into John Otte’s novel. I connected with the characters immediately, especially the assassin, Crusader. But I needed a little more information about the two main societies that ruled. I discovered much along the way, but would have preferred more detail at the first. As I said, I felt a connection to the characters, and it was that that kept me turning the pages. I really cared what was happening to them. The technological aspects of Numb were fun and inventive, but being mostly tech-challenged, I read them at face value without trying to figure out the hows of the science. That really worked for me; I would love to hear what the tech-junkies thought. Most of the plot lines are wrapped up at the end, but enough loose threads are left to make me think we might see Crusader and Isolda again. Romance, adventure, gadgets, and interplanetary/galactic travel all provide something for everyone.

I found the theology behind Numb very intriguing. You have two ruling societies, one that has embraced secular tolerance and one that has developed a theocracy based solely on God’s wrath and judgment without grace and love. Adherents of true faith were persecuted by both. I saw a lot of things that reminded me of our present day. That is why I think Numb would be good for a youth or college aged discussion. You have got some great sci-fi combined with what it means to be truly free. I also felt that Crusader was much like the Apostle Paul before his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road. Completely devoted to his church and his role within it, Crusader, like Paul, found out just who God really is.


(I received and ebook in conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour. All opinions expressed are mine alone.).
Profile Image for Marion Hill.
Author 9 books77 followers
March 25, 2018
What if you are numb to pain and feelings for a good portion of your life? And all of sudden you begin to feel again and are not numb anymore?

Those two questions were answered in Numb by John W. Otte. Numb is the story of Crusader, an assassin trained by the Ministrix to kill heretics and others who come against the church and Isolda Westin, a woman whom the Ministrix wants dead.

It was considered an easy job for Crusader to hunt down Isolda and fulfill his duty for the church. However, when he saw her face-to-face for the first time everything changed. I will not give away anymore than that. I liked how the author developed these two characters and stayed away from becoming too sentimental and stereotypical in a science-fiction thriller like this one.

The author did a soild job in showing the uneasy truce between the two societies that are a part of the world of the novel. The aforementioned Ministrix and the atheist society of the Praesidium both were vying for power in order to get the people of this world under control. Otte gave an honest portrayal of how religion and ideology can corrupt both societies whether you believed in a higher power or not.

It seemed that the author wanted to highlight the theme of grace in the novel. While reading Numb, I thought of these words by Paul: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.” {1 Corinthians 15:10} This first sentence of that verse of scripture from 1 Corinthians in the New Testament was something that both Crusader and Isolda would have to face in the story.

Do you give grace to those who have hurt you? Do you give grace to those who have gained power and manipulated those underneath them? The author answered those questions in Numb and revealed the need for grace in our lives.

Numb is a Christian Science Fiction novel and it doesn’t shy away from that worldview in the story. However, I would recommend it to science fiction fans who wants to read a solid, page-turning novel.
Profile Image for Keanan Brand.
Author 11 books31 followers
August 13, 2016
I blitzed through John W. Otte‘s futuristic speculative novel, Numb, during a couple sick days. It was at the top of the stack already, I was going to read it, ill or not, and it was the perfect distraction.

Crusader is an assassin. Or, as some might have it, a minister of divine justice. He’s the best. Not only does he complete his assignments with brutal efficiency, he feels no pain — emotional or physical.

He serves the Ministrix, a religious governmental entity that portrays Christ as having come down from the Cross to visit vengeance on His enemies. Anyone who believes otherwise is a heretic to be punished.

All Crusader knows or remembers is his service to the Ministrix. He has never questioned the rightness of what he does.

Then he receives a strange set of orders: Kill Isolda Westin, and do it in public.

Whenever he sees her image, there are thoughts and sensations he cannot explain.

What’s so special about an obscure engineer? And why break protocol by killing her where everyone can see?

And why is he suddenly reluctant to obey?

Otte handles the action scenes and the suspense well, and I had no trouble following the story or keeping track of the characters.

The novel is written from an unabashed Christian point of view, but it’s not all “come to Jesus”. It shows how religion can be skewed and outright twisted to oppress and imprison, and how truth can set free. I appreciated the juxtaposition.

If there’s any story that Numb strongly resembles, it’s the story of Saul in the New Testament. A Pharisee, Saul persecuted the Early Church, harassing Christians and imprisoning them, thinking he did the will of God.

I enjoyed the book, and thought the story was well told. However, I did occasionally trip over word choices or phrasing or dangling pronouns, so I was pulled out of the story whenever I had to figure out who was speaking or doing something.

Were I giving a score, Numb is a strong 4 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,734 reviews
April 28, 2014
Crusader is numb. He does not feel emotions or pain. He is a feared assassin for the Ministrix, killing "heretics" who are untrue to the True Church. When he is given the mission on killing a young woman named Isolda he finds himself in dangerous waters, struck by feelings he didn't know he was capable of. Crusader and Isolda find themselves working together, on the run from the very administration that he had pledge himself to.

In a futuristic world, where the human race is living in space, Mr. Otte spins his suspenseful and thought provoking adventure. I had previously heard many of my friend raving about Mr. Otte's Failstate, so I just knew I had to give Numb a try. I had no idea what to expect, but I was blown away by the detail and intricacies in the world of Isolda and Crusader.

Numb plunged me into a dangerous new civilization, and from the very beginning I was hooked. It did take me a while to get a good grip on my surroundings, and understand the government and so on, but that didn't slow me down.

This might just be me, but I thought there were strong similarities in this story to the early Catholic church, and how they had a strong voice in political matters, and how they would have people they believed to be heretics killed.

Overall, this was a great read, full of action and fast-paced adventure, very different from what I normally read. But I enjoyed it immensely, and would happily recommend it to people who love a wholesome, yet high stakes adventure.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."
Profile Image for Nikole Hahn.
265 reviews16 followers
April 23, 2014
A lot of people might be envious of Crusader’s numbness in Numb by John W. Otte. Crusader can get a lot done, perhaps though some not so ethical things like assassinating people, because he doesn’t feel anything. In battle, the laser guns tear through his flesh, but he can fight through his injuries like Hulk or Superman. Apply a bit of medical gel and those critical injuries heal themselves. Humankind in John W. Otte’s world lives in space.

Two distinctly different empire’s are in a cold war with each other: Ministrix and Preasidium. Crusader works for Ministrix–an organization that is modeled like the Jewish temple leaders; lots of rules and a Christ-figure that is accusing. Preasidium is secular, non-believing, but they don’t have any ethics or morals. A Toleration Act enacted by them to keep the peace between their empire and Ministrix makes any kind of faith illegal. In between, are the “catacombs”–an organization that teaches true faith in Christ and sends them out like missionaries into either empire. Crusader’s latest job is to assassinate Isolda Westin, an engineer on the Purim.

But the numbness breaks and Crusader is unable to kill the girl. Unfortunately, in his hesitation, he discovers Ministrix agents out to kill him, too. Crusader and Isolda run from Ministrix while both try to figure out the mystery of Ministrix’s plans to kill them both.

Numb is an excellent novel. The only problem I really had with it was part of the first chapter. To me, it was an eye-roller. A bit over-dramatic, I thought, in how the story broke, but the following chapters were much better. The following chapters with its descriptions and dialogue kept me reading as the struggle between Crusader and his “numb” increased with his attraction to Isolda. In the end, he has a choice to make when his real identity was revealed. The ending of the novel was perfect. I gave this novel four stars. Book given by publisher to review.
Profile Image for Victoria Brinius.
698 reviews94 followers
April 21, 2014
I could not put this book down. It followed me everywhere. It reminded me of The DaVinci code. There is a group of people in charge that use their power to twist the Bible into their own "religion" They kill people that interfere and go against their rules. I loved that this book was set in the future and at one point they "traveled" past Earth. There was also a lot of technology and I would love to see what a parrot looks like. This book met my mystery goals for a book and my science fiction goals. There is so much more to the book. At it's core it is about a man that feels nothing and does not remember his past. He has no idea who he was, or why he is who he is. The action in the book was also really descriptive and I could imagine the bullets and weapons as they were used.
Isolda changes Crusader (he doesn't even know his own name). She makes him feel something, and she looks strangely familiar. They are on the run trying to escape the Ministrix and their peons. However it is a battle of wills and the need for survival make people do anything. Friends become enemies, and strangers become comrades. I could not believe who back stabbed them and I could not believe who Crusader was and why he became the Crusader. The author uses a lot of background to fill in the gaps, but it is told by a third party and I felt like I was hearing it with the characters. I was as shocked as them. I am giving this book a 5/5. I was given a copy to review, however all opinions are my own. I highly recommend this book. I can not wait to read more from this author.
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Profile Image for Brandon Miller.
104 reviews37 followers
October 16, 2017
I picked up this book because it sounded like every story I'd ever told myself about the super mean assassin guy who goes soft and saves the victim then has to fight his old boss to save said victim. It's a story I'd told myself a million times... so I wanted to see it on paper.
And I did.
In fact, that's exactly what I saw. Exactly the story I'd told myself many times. Exactly the way I'd imagined it. Not terribly original. Almost, dare I say it, predictable.
I was slightly disappointed, though I'm not sure why. I picked up the book with the express purpose of reading a story I'd already told. But the idea was old. And the story needed freshness... which it didn't have. At least not to me.
All that being said, I did enjoy the read. It's fast paced, engaging, and did carry a touch of nostalgia for me as I saw all my old stories through it.
I didn't love this book, but I didn't hate it either. I liked it. It was fun. Now it's over. I've moved on. Maybe I'll read it again someday. Probably I will.
Do I recommend it? Yeah, probably. I like fun reads, and this story certainly was one. But I love fresh reads, and Numb just wasn't that for me. (Still can't wait to read more of John's stuff though. He's got a great voice and sense of his characters... which I'm sure will translate into his other stories! :D )
Profile Image for Jason Joyner.
Author 7 books51 followers
March 11, 2014
I would rather give this book 4.5 stars. Numb is an inventive science fiction book that doesn't have a similar comparison to any book I know of.

Crusader is an assassin, but he is the instrument of the Ministrix, the religious institution that controls Earth and splits territory in space with the godless Praesidium. Crusader carries out God's will as directed by the Reverand Hand to execute divine judgment in establishing God's Kingdom. He does so with his divine gift, that makes him Numb to emotions and feeling pain.

However, when he is tasked with killing Isolda Westin, his gift fails and he can't complete the mission. Now he has failed and won't be able to rid his guilt, unless he can figure out the mystery behind Isolda and return to the good graces of the Ministrix. But other forces are intervening as well, and it will take all his skills to survive the space between two colliding worlds.

I can't think of another story that attempts such a set-up. And Otte pulls it off with thought-provoking ideas, an explosive plot, and twists that keep coming until the final chapter. It's a great read and establishes Otte as a daring voice in science fiction.
Profile Image for J.L. Mbewe.
Author 9 books261 followers
October 23, 2014
Imagine the early church during the time of Nero and much persecution, but set in the future, in outer space and then add the time of the Holy Roman Empire and the Inquisition, and you might get an idea of the political environment of Numb.

The Ministrix has deacons, and a pope-like figure called The Reverend Hand. It rules its territory with a visible iron fist and one not so visible–the assassins, tools to purge the world of people who do not embrace their “One True Church”.

Crusader has been “gifted” with being numb, making him the perfect assassin, but his latest target, Isolda Westin is proving much too difficult to kill, and what’s worse, he’s finds himself on the run from the very people he works for.

I enjoyed the story a lot, and it leaves you with much to think about. The characters were real and the plot engaging. And that ending? Awesome!

If you like science-fiction flavored, edge of your seat adventures with political intrigue, and a touch of romance, read this one!

*In conjunction with the CSFF blog tour, I received a free copy of this book.*
Profile Image for JoJo Sutis.
Author 1 book43 followers
April 30, 2014
I love this book! I cannot even begin to tell you….but I’ll try;)
Even though Crusader is a ruthless assassin, I still liked this character from the beginning. I suppose it’s knowing his motivation behind his actions. He thinks that by doing what the True Church tells him to do and killing those who are guilty of heresy or just plain evil, Crusader believes his acts of justice will free him from his own guilt.
This book is so full of action and edge of your seat suspense, as well as a bit of mystery. I love love love it! Absolutely one of my favorite reads this year!
The author does an awesome job of sinking readers into the story and once this one got a hold of me, I did not want to let go! I cared about these characters. I wanted Crusader to find the redemption he so desperately needed, yet was so blinded to.

Profile Image for Joan.
3,644 reviews64 followers
April 22, 2014
This is the best science fiction I've read in the Christian genre. It is hundreds of years in the future and one part of the universe is ruled by those powerful from a corrupted version of Christianity. One gains God's approval by obeying those in authority, even when they command you to kill. Another part of the universe has a Tolerance Act which effectively outlaws Christianity. But there is a remnant of true believers.
I really liked this novel. There is lots of action. There are plenty of twists and turns in the story, and great revelations at the end. They all work out well to develop the story and they fit perfectly together.
See my complete review at http://bit.ly/1hbS9c3.
In conjunction with the CSFF blog tour I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for Julie Bihn.
Author 5 books17 followers
November 22, 2014
From the description, I'd expected that Crusader would see Isolda, he'd know he can't kill her, and he'd devote all his energy to rescuing her from whoever wanted her dead. I did not at all expect this story to be full of twists and betrayals and political intrigue and mysteries and supporting characters. I found it a good read with a lot to think about, and I enjoyed it. It just wasn't really at all what I'd expected based on the promotion I saw.

Full review will be at http://kinynchronicles.blogspot.com/2...

(In conjunction with the CSFF blog tour, I received a free copy of this book.)
Profile Image for Steve Rzasa.
Author 84 books86 followers
October 21, 2013
Enjoyed it thoroughly. The characters were realistic, and had very interesting motivations beyond the normal tropes. Especially liked one of the secondary characters who seemed to be a "bad guy." The plot is fast-moving and keeps the reader on the edge of his seat. Another job well done by John Otte! If there's ever a sequel I'll be ready.
Profile Image for Rebekah.
Author 5 books26 followers
July 23, 2016
Overall, an excellent enjoyable story that caused me to get my first sunburn of the year because I lost track of time reading it out in the hammock.

Full review is here.
Profile Image for Carol R Gehringer.
328 reviews19 followers
April 14, 2014
loved it -- will write longer review later this week. Loved plot, depth of characters - could easily see it as a full-length movie!
Profile Image for Riley.
865 reviews56 followers
August 12, 2015
Fast-paced Sci-fi, stuffed with intrigue and topped with a little romantic icing. I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you! Recommended for Sci-fi fans everywhere.
Profile Image for Pauline Creeden.
Author 86 books578 followers
March 19, 2014
Pretty good page Turner. Over all I liked it, but I couldn't help but think of the book as a cross between Hitman and Firefly...more in depth review to come.
Profile Image for Madisyn Carlin.
Author 10 books206 followers
June 13, 2018
Save the girl... or his soul?


Positive Elements:

Isolda is determined to keep secret the location of a hidden base, thereby keeping safe her friends. Crusader chooses to protect rather than carry out his orders. A secondary character speaks briefly about a choice he had to make: destroy innocent colonists or defy orders (he chose the latter).

Spiritual Content:

A faction called the Ministrix sees itself as the "True Church", and hunts down those who disagree or believe otherwise; it also has twisted Scripture (which is pointed out in the book), and refers to God as wrathful. Isolda and a secondary character explain that works do not secure salvation. Isolda is mentioned as the daughter of the King (God); she is also seen praying.


Crusader shoots several people, and is shot and shot at himself. He also uses his knife to carry out assassination orders. Isolda shoots at Crusader, as does a secondary character. There are battles, a fistfight or two, and reflection on how an innocent colony of people were destroyed by the Ministrix. Another minor character is also knifed in the back. As far as actual blood spilled, it is minor, and none of the injuries noted are detailed upon.


One usage of he**. There are a few usages of "moron(s)".

Other negative elements:

It is mentioned briefly that Isolda's mother and one of the Ministrix officials had an affair (that resulted in Isolda).


Crusader and Isolda kiss.


Numb, despite being science fiction, opens your eyes to the sad reality that some still think works can get them to Heaven. With it's interesting plot and complex characters, Numb is a must-read.
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