Author: WM. Paul Young
Published: June 20, 2008
Publisher: Windblown Media
Genre: Adult Fiction, Christian Fiction
Rating: 2 stars
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“Each relationship between two persons is absolutely unique. That is why you cannot love two people the same. It simply is not possible. You love each person differently because of who they are and the uniqueness that they draw out of you.”My Thoughts
― Wm. Paul Young, The Shack
Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his "Great Sadness," Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever. (Goodreads)
I have put off this review long enough. To be completely honest, I've been avoiding writing this book review because I had no idea what to say. How do you review The Shack negatively without offending someone of the Christian faith? I've already offended two of my family members who are very religious because I told them I was not enjoying this book. They loved The Shack so they were a little peeved.
Do you have to be spiritual, religious, or all about Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit in order to love The Shack? Of course not. I'm not any of the above, but I have read books that are religious in subject matter and have still loved them. I enjoy religious studies even if I'm not passionate about any religion. This book was just not to my liking at all. It read like a Sunday school lesson. For most of the book, it was just Mack and the Holy Trinity sitting down to dinner and discussing religion. The meaning of God. Sin. Redemption...and on and on. I'll admit there were some intriguing points, which did increase my enjoyment slightly. Young definitely turns the tables with some twists on the religious scripture. Theological headaches are eased with what seem to be simple solutions at first look, but then become ever more complex as you study them. But I felt like I was listening in on a philosophy lecture. Or a Bible study. Yes, God usually doesn't actively participate in the discussion, but it wasn't what I was expecting.
My lack of enjoyment might also be due to the fact that I was expecting something entirely different from The Shack. I don't know why. I can hardly explain my expectations. Just looking at the cover, I was thinking horror (which I enjoy immensely). I mean, the book starts off with a little girl's abduction. I was also thinking God's role would be a little more ambiguous or mysterious. I did not think that God would be cooking dinner, and the Holy Spirit would be gardening, while Jesus works in the woodshed. It was more a family gathering than Mack finding God himself. Though that was obviously Young's intention. He wanted God to be cast in a more loving light; the loving Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit that is always with us (basically riding piggyback). If anything, it stole away the mystery and the uncertainty that I usually enjoy when religion is present in a book.
I understand I may be biased. I'm hardly religious or spiritual or whatever. But I found the story to come off as cliched, no matter how eye-opening some of the views were, and I also found Mack underdeveloped. His response to the weekend in the shack was predictable, and his emotions and responses simplistic. Overall, he was kind of a boring character. Yes, he struggled with some internal conflicts and guilt, but he fell flat to me. But he was hanging around with God. How can anyone compare to that? Of course, he paled in comparison.
I would suggest reading The Shack and judging for yourself if you like it or not. Don't go by what I said because this book is going to inspire a wide range of reactions. Do I regret reading it? No. But it certainly wasn't life changing or amazing by my standards.