Simon's Bookcase

Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe

The Shack

The Shack: William P. Young, 18–30 September, 2010.

My rating: ♦♦◊◊◊

After much badgering, pestering and cajoling, I attempted The Shack for a second time, and read the book in its entirety. It’s hard to review this as a book because it was missing the conventional features of a novel, such as a plot.

The bulk of The Shack centres around the parent of a child kidnapped on holiday (coincidentally published in 2007, the year of Madeline McCann’s disappearance) who hooks up with God at the place of her murder. Over an evening-long weekend, he converses with God the Mother (Sharon D. Clarke turned Morgan Freeman), God the Son and God the Flickering Version Of The Asian Woman From Lost, along with a cameo from The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy-style Trinity member four of three (aka Sophia).

First up, kudos to Young for dealing head-on with tough issues. Why is there so much suffering in the world if there is a loving God? Why does God allow these things to happen to children? Why isn’t everybody saved? These and many other questions are tackled where many other authors try to pretend they’re never asked.

And, OK, it’s a fairly original idea.

On the downside, I found myself in a real quandary as to how to read The Shack. There are some things Young says that I agree with, others I am impartial on, but a third category with which I totally disagree. Over-analysing every statement was drawing away from the book, but when you try to ignore the theology and just read the story, you’re left with… with nothing. Because the bulk of The Shack is, essentially, the Gospel According to William P. Young. A Gospel which is, basically, flawed. Those by Matthew, Mark, Luke or John are much better alternatives.

Besides which, I had a real tough time accepting a man putting words into God’s mouth, albeit a fictitious portrayal of God. Passing off any opinion as God’s is dodgy territory, let alone in fiction, let alone in fiction sandwiched between a foreword and afterword which are at great pains to suggest the tale is fact.

Even the quasi-plot that exists within the conversation is terrible. Although Missy’s kidnap/death/transfiguration was dealt with quite well, other aspects were just bizarre. Mack’s sudden and inexplicable forgiveness of his father, for no apparent reason, took place in about three seconds and then after they sobbed a bit, that was it over with. Not to mention the walking on water with Jesus, which seemed to be a parody of Bruce Almighty – and spoofing a Jim Carrey movie is like softening up a marshmallow.

In the end, I had to conclude that The Shack was written with the best of intentions, but perhaps Young’s first intention should have been the one he stuck to – making a copy for his family, not publishing it, and keeping it well away from public consumption. Because it gives your head and your heart indigestion.


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This entry was posted on September 30, 2010 by in 2 star and tagged .

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@Queen_UK Adolf Hitler agatha christie Alan Clements Alastair Campbell Aldous Huxley Aleksandr Orlov Alex Shaffer Andrew Neiderman Anthony Burgess Arthur Miller Bateman Ben Brooks Ben Elton Bram Stoker Bret Easton Ellis C.J. Cherryh Carolyn Jess-Cooke Charles Dickens Chuck Palahniuk Dan Brown Dante Alighieri dashiell hammett david baldacci David Brin David Glattauer David Kirkpatrick David Line David Tennant David Wolstencroft Dylan Jones E.L. James Edgar Allen Poe Emilia Fox Eoin Colfer Erica Spindler Frank Peretti Gabrielle Lord Gareth Roberts Geoff Ryman George Orwell George R. R. Martin George W. Bush Gillian Flynn Gillian Slovo Graham Greene Guy Piran Harper Lee Harriet Lane Herman Koch Ian Rankin J.K. Rowling Jack Thorne Jacqueline Rayner James Herbert James Patterson Jasper Fforde Jeff Green Jeff Kinney Jeffrey Archer Jem Lester Jenny Robson Jeremy Clarkson Jerry B. Jenkins Jim Thompson John Crowther John Green John Grisham John Tiffany John Verdon Jonas Jonasson Judith Kerr Juliana Foster Justin Richards Kaci Hill Karen Levine Keeley Bolger Louis Walsh malorie blackman Marissa Meyer Mark Haddon Mark Z. Danielewski Martin Sixsmith Mary Higgins Clark Mary McNamara Matt Haig Matthew Ravden Michael Berry Michael Connelly Michael Morpurgo Michael Quirke Miguel de Cervantes Mike Lancaster Morris Gleitzman Morton Rhue Neil Sinclair Nick Hornby Nick Page Patricia Cornwell Patricia Stotley Patrick Ness Paula Hawkins Paul Johnston Peter James Phil Allcock R.J. Palacio Rachelle Dekker Raymond Chandler Richard Bachman Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Ludlum Robin Cook Robin Kirkpatrick sandra brown Sebastian Beaumont Sharon Osbourne Stella Rimmington Stephen Cole Stephen King Steve Lookner Steve Lyons Stuart MacBride Sue Townsend Suzanne Collins ted dekker Terry Pratchett Tim LaHaye Tim Randall Todd Strasser Tom Avery Tom Bower Tom Cain Tom Hoyle tony blair William Golding William P. Young William Shakespeare