I always cringe for an author when I see a book that is obnoxiously publicized with a slew of over the top endorsements. Quite frankly, it's not fair to the author. The expectations are set, and more times than not, it's a let down for the reader.(After reading the book, I wonder if those endorsers read at all.) Unfortunately, I found this to be the case with "The River." I actually requested this book for review and saved it for a special weekend I was taking . . . kayaking. With the setting of the book, I was ready to savor every moment of "The River." That didn't happen . . . I pulled out Spurgeon's "Faith's Checkbook" and gained far more from just one page.
Being a writer, I like to get to know an author before I read their book. I realize that most authors pour their heart and soul into a book, so as I thumbed through the pages of The River, and I noticed an interview of the author by Andy Andrews. The problem is . . . it has a "spoiler" in it. Bummer.
This is NOT a "Christian" book. It is more of a "new age" spirituality type book. There are "inferences" but nothing solid. There are issues of healing and forgiveness, but no mention of the very heart (Christ) of TRUE forgiveness in the Christian faith. There's not even a hint of the main character's journey through his own faith. If you already have "faith" then you will obviously connect the dots. For others, they may actually believe there is some kind of connection with "nature" or "the river." (especially with the "supernatural" occurrence that take place on the river) So, if you're looking to deepen your "Christian" faith, this book will NOT do that.
As many other reviewers have mentioned, at times I felt like I was reading something of a middle school reading level. The imagery and character development just didn't happen. Unfortunately, I didn't feel connected to the characters at all. Too often, I got downright bored. And I REALLY wanted to love this book. I wanted it to "transform how I see myself and the world." It definitely did not.
I don't know who is comparing this book to "The Shack," but it's a shame. There is simply no comparison. "The Shack" takes you into the depths of your soul, rips it inside out, leaves you begging for each new page, and then fills you with a peace that transforms your faith. It causes you to take a look at your faith and what you believe and sends you running to the arms of your Heavenly Father. In a VERY unorthodox way, it presents the gospel. This book doesn't even begin to do any of those things.
At best, this is just a "nice" read. Unfortunately. I wanted it to be SO much more. It was TOO simple, and the message just didn't grip me. Interesting to me, as a writer, the author wrote his best three chapters, the last ones, snowed in at an Econo Lodge in Atlanta. Funny.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com [...] book review bloggers program. 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."
THOMAS NELSON PAGE for THE RIVER
AMAZON PAGE for THE RIVER