Though The Shelter Cycle is fiction Peter Rock has used the real-world Church Universal and Triumphant, a New Age religious group preparing for the end of the world in the late 1980's, to frame his most recent book. When a neighborhood child goes missing, Francine is surprised to encounter a face from her own childhood among those searching. Colville brings with him waves of memories from their lives inside the Church, prompting her reconsider the years she has spent away from religion prior to the birth of her first child.
I tend to enjoy books that explore religions, whether they're common or cult-like, and thought The Shelter Cycle would be a fictional lens into the religion. While it touches on the beliefs and founder a bit, there was much more of a focus on Francine and Colville. What's frustrating, though, is that I had a difficult time enjoying the book from a novel perspective because I felt the characters were quite underdeveloped. I kept hoping I would find out more about the church or their childhood, but was instead given further descriptions of walking through snow or the inside of a shelter. There is a climax toward the end, but it didn't feel redeeming enough to make up for what the rest of the novel seemed to lack.
While The Shelter Cycle may resonate with readers that have left religion behind and are questioning their choices later in life, I had a hard time syncing the novel I read with my expectations.