May 8, 2008

The Shack *

* The Shack, William P. Young, 2007

It had to happen sometime. Our first one-star review of the year. I knew going in I wouldn't like this book, but I got it as a birthday present with the comment, "I'd like to hear what you think about it." So what choice did I have? I may be a jerk, but I'm not a complete cad. Yet. Give me time. I have a few years left in me. I might make curmudgeon of the year before it's over.

Lots of people love this book. Lots of people read People magazine. I'm not one of them, in either case. I'm not saying there's a correlation, here. Just mentioning some specifics.

Here's my problem with this book. It's a cheesy, schmaltz-laden story wrapped around a lecture on the nature of God.

If I want to read a good story, I want some really good writing. Life is too short to endure mediocre writing. Not everybody is as picky as I am. That's fine. Let them read what they like, and I'll do the same.

If I want to read a book on the nature of God, then I want a book that deals with the subject directly, not a 250-page third-rate parable with an angst-ridden character tossing softball questions to a sagacious character to hit out of the ballpark. Or three sagacious characters, either.

Actually, I got through the Foreword and thought, "Maybe I was wrong. Maybe this is a good book after all."

The Foreword was the best part.

I didn't subject The Shack to the dreaded elliptical test because I knew it wouldn't stand up and during a workout is no time to be playing around with an unworthy book.

When a book repeatedly refers to The Great Sadness, just like that, in caps and italic, you know you're in trouble. Like caps wasn't enough.

We really want you to get it, reader. It's not a sadness. It's not just the sadness. Or merely the great sadness. It's not even The Great Sadness. Dammit, we're talking about The Great Sadness here! Sit up and pay attention and have a hanky or three handy.

That's not to say that there aren't some good concepts in the book. There are. I truly believe that the world would be a better place if more people embraced the concept of God presented in The Shack. Most of it, anyway. But that's not why I read books.

Your mileage may vary.

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