Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Book Review: Cross Roads

I wanted to like this book. I really did.

The Shack is one of my favorite modern Christian novels. It's wildly original. It tells an amazing story of redemption and healing. And it's just out there enough to drive the most conservative readers nuts with its depictions of the Trinity.

Conversely, Cross Roads is derivative of the plot and ideas in The Shack. Protagonist father who lost a child? Check. Carries a lot of anger towards God about it? Check. The character development, what little there is of it, is both shallow and far too fast-paced. Granted, I've never had the disembodied essence of another person locked in my body, but I'm fairly certain that not only would I not accept it as quickly as these characters did but also were anyone to tell me they had a separate entity trapped in them, I'd be wildly skeptical.

Instead of spending time - and pages - with descriptions of medical terminology and characters ultimately inessential to the plot (Jack), going into greater details over how the protagonist went from self-centered to kind, faith-centered, and introspective would have been welcome. It honestly felt like many of the characters changed personalities and motivations so quickly that I thought I'd missed several pages of material.

To be honest, the only reason I read through to the end of the book was because I was hoping against hope that it might improve. The ending, which was blindingly obvious about 2/3 of the way through the book, felt rushed, and more than a little cheesy. Cross Roads is the kind of novel that were it adapted to film, it would undoubtedly be a direct-to-DVD release starring Kirk Cameron.

WM Paul Young, who proved himself a capable and talented author with The Shack, completely missed the opportunity to prove he is more than a one-style writer with Cross Roads. Had I not read The Shack first, perhaps I'd look at this with kinder eyes. As it stands, I'd recommend that people who want to get a feeling for the style of the author should stick with his first work and avoid this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. 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.

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