Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Shack by William P. Young

rating: 2 out of 5 chocolates

Religious literature isn't normally a genre that I go for, my preferences bend towards fantasy, historical and general fiction. However this title was one of those that kept popping up now and then when I was working at Borders. I thought it would be a good idea to read the back of it, in case I had to talk to customers about it. What I read intrigued me, and so I decided to pick up a copy. 

The story begins four years after Mackenzie's youngest daughter was abducted and murdered during a family vacation. On a stormy winter's day, Mack receives a note, apparently from God, inviting him for a weekend at the shack where his daughter was believed to be murdered. Angered, he decides to go to the shack and find out exactly who the note is from. What he finds there on that weekend will shake the very foundation of everything that he has ever believed in.

I found Young's writing gripping at the beginning, especially the part that unveils Missy's disappearance and the events that unfold shortly after. The author paints such a vivid description of Mack's pain, so much so that you can feel it as your own. However, as Mack comes face to face with what brings him to the shack, and for the whole duration of his time there, Young's writing becomes extremely repetitive, in the guise of allowing the reader to further understand what is being explained. There were a few reasons that I could think of for this, none of them unfortunately favours the author. First, Young had to draw it out that way otherwise the book would be incredibly short. Second, he actually could not explain things in a concise manner. Lastly, he assumed that his readers would be a little slow on the uptake. Whatever his reasons were, the explanations behind several of his key points could have been shortened immensely. 

Furthermore, I found chapter 15 specifically to be superfluous. It did not add anything to the narration at all. If its sole purpose was for Mack to reconcile with his past, then that chapter failed as it lacked the emotional force needed. And if it was purely to add mysticism, then it was absolutely unnecessary as the whole story itself is already improbable.

A few of Young's points go against the grain of what the church stands for, as well as what has been taught about Christianity. Personally, I thought this quite bold and at the same time I found it refreshing. However I can see it upsetting staunchly religious believers. Definitely not recommended for your hard-core devoted grandparents.

What I appreciated about this book is that it offers acceptable and logical explanations about how God is not to blame for all of the bad things that happen in life, and that evil stems from human independence. Young also gives a very humbling insight with regards to judging others.

I must admit, I found this quite a difficult book to review, for a newbie such as myself. It doesn't help that religion can be a prickly subject to discuss. So please forgive me if my personal bias accidentally seeped through. This was not my intention at all.

And before I go, many thanks to Buzz_B, Candice, A. F. Stewart, Megan and Melissa for your comments on my review for Miss Peregrine. Much appreciated. :)


  1. Hi Toni

    I love the review! I'm still at the beginning of reading The Shack so it's interesting to read your thoughts. I'm the same as you - after seeing and hearing a lot about it and then reading the back cover, I just had to read it too.

    I'm not a huge lover of religious fiction either so I wonder what I'll think of the story as I delve further into it...

    Keep up the great reviews! I'm really enjoying your blog!

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair


  2. I've added it to my reading list. Nice review.

    Trev @ trevsliteraryreview.blogspot.com

  3. great review toni. like you, i kept seeing the shack in, in my case, the book blogs that i visit. so i decided to put it on my reading list and check for myself. i like religion and philosophy books because religion and philosophy seem to be difficult topics to write about. it can make or break a writer.

  4. Toni - I am really enjoying your reviews, maybe because you critique books the way that I would do it. You approach the book from both an "enjoyment" factor as well as a literary one.

    In any event, because I think you do a great job with reviews, I have listed your blog on my site by passing along the "Versatile Blogger Award." You don't need to officially accept the award if you don't want to take the time away from your reviews, but I'm hoping to send a few more readers in your direction by giving you this award. You can read my post at http://neftzger.blogspot.com/

    Keep up the great work!

  5. I am with you! I really enjoyed your review of this book. I read it last year- and everyone told me I would love it. I thought it started off well, but there were some parts I started to skim over because of the things you mentioned. I look forward to reading more of your reviews!