Saturday, November 15, 2008

No. 37 - The Shack

by William Paul Young

Started: November 14
Finished: November 21

Notes: Christian fiction isn't normally my thing unless it's also historical fiction, but the blurb on the back of this book caught my attention. Without giving too much away, the story concerns a man who has suffered an awful tragedy to his family, then one day he receives a note from God. The note says God wants to talk with our protagonist. There's more to it than that, more elements that pulled me in, but I don't want to give away any major plot points. And let me add, I also am interested in reading this book because it was self-published (not something I'm considering) but still has made it onto the NY Times bestseller list.

Mini review: Not a bad story, but I wasn't blown away. The writing is decent, but it was fairly obvious this was a first novel. The biggest problem I had from a story-telling point of view is that I felt the plot was a bit weak, especially in the middle; the idea behind the plot is excellent, in my opinion, but it could have used some strengthening. Now, from a spiritual standpoint, there were a few other problems I had with this tale. First, and mostly, I felt the religion in this story suffered from being overly simplistic. I don't, however, necessarily blame this on the author, or upon his religious beliefs or the story; I freely admit that it might just be I who am not emotionally or spiritually capable of understanding at this point in my existence. That being said, I have experienced a few moments of "eureka" or "revelation" in my life about something that seemed quite simple but turned out to be otherwise (or sometimes not) from my perspective. There can be great insight gained from what sometimes seems the most simple of ideas. Still, I generally expect more in my religious-oriented reading. Secondly, I felt the version of God shown in this tale was a bit too liberal for my liking. No, I'm not a fundamentalist or a Bible-thumper or even a hell-and-brimstone kind of guy, but I don't think of God (or the Trinity, if you prefer) as being all touchy feely and kissy huggy all the time. Sometimes, maybe, but not all the time. Again, maybe I'm wrong and it's just my own inability to accept. All that being said, this was an okay read, and there were a handful of very touching scenes. This novel is not something I'd suggest for the casual fiction reader, but my Christian friends might find something here for them. Overall, though, if I'm in the mood to read about man questioning God, I'll turn to one of my favorite books in the Holy Bible ... the Book of Job; God's answers to Job might seem simplistic, but there's a whole lot going on in that tale if you dig deep enough.


Tam said...

It was suggested I read this book, and I tried...but couldn't get through it for a lot of reasons. It has sure received a lot of attention for a self-published book. It was interesting to read your review, Ty. I am also one of those people who prefers to read the Bible rather than someone's opinion about the Bible. Thanks for sharing.

Ty Johnston said...

Hey Tam,
Thanks for the comments. While this book wasn't for me, as I admitted, it could be my own failings. But generally, if I'm reading spiritual or religious material, I prefer it to be non-fiction.

Anonymous said...

I bought the book with every intention of reading it ... then I lost it! I can't find the freakin' thing anywhere. It's driving me NUTS!