summer of fiction

looking through the list of books i've recently read, i realized that i read a lot more fiction this summer than usual. i used to read one or two novels a year, but have taken to reading more fiction in the last couple of years. since i'm between ideas as to what to post on, i figured i'd do a quick rundown of the fiction i've read in the last few months.

1. most recently, i read Feed by M.T. Anderson. i read about Feed somewhere a few months back, and thought Jak would enjoy it, so i picked it up for him. of course, he had to go to work the next day, so i read it first. it's young adult fiction, so it just took a few hours to get through. it's based sometime in the relatively near future, when air is manufactured, steaks are grown on farms (not cows, just steaks), and everyone has an advanced version of the internet plugged into themselves called the 'feed.' the feed plays on the idea of personalized advertising and banner ads that we're getting more and more of these days, but taken to a whole new level as all of that goes straight into people's minds. advertising, education, instant messaging, and shopping all take place simply by interacting with this implanted device.

as someone who has rarely read YA fiction, i was somewhat surprised with the portrayal of the characters. Titus, the protagonist, is a portrayed as an immature and self-centered teenager, who has to wrestle with questions about life and death and reality that push him beyond his abilities to cope. while living in an era where even the adults sound like idiots (since they've received no true education and are also bombarded with the constant advertising) and a popular show is called "Oh? Wow! thing!" he is challenged to experience and imagine a life beyond the propaganda of the feed and figure out if the reality he's lived with is truly real.

2. On the edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness: Adventure. Peril. Lost Jewels. And the Fearsome Toothy Cows of Skree. Andrew Peterson, a ccm musician, released a children's book in march. i read some rave reviews about it, and picked it up for Jak as he tends to like fantasy. he enjoyed it enough for me to read through it a few days later. i don't really read much fiction, and up until this summer, i haven't read many children's books as an adult - so maybe my opinion on this comes simply from the limitation of not having much to compare it to. but i loved this book. it was so much fun to read, filled with crazy creatures and great descriptions. between the plot moving at a fast enough pace, and the names of people and critters (like Podo, thwaps, and Gnag the Nameless) this would be a great story to read to school age kids.

3. i'd only read CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia once before, nearly a decade ago. i wanted to reread them (or at least the first one) before the movie came out, but never did (our copies have been packed away for a few years). so i decided i'd reread them before Prince Caspian came to theatres. i didn't do that either. but, i did snag a copy from a friend just afterwards and read the series earlier this summer. i was surprised with how little i remembered from any of the stories, most of them felt brand new to me.

having remembered so little, it was a blast to read them all and to be drawn into the magical world of narnia. i'd forgotten - and thoroughly enjoyed - Lewis' brilliant humor and fantastic descriptions throughout the stories. these books ought to belong in nearly every home.

4. i heard a local pastor bash The Shack by William Young, which of course drove me to buy it immediately. i didn't think i'd actually make it through the book once i started it. the absurdly excessive use of metaphors and weak editing at the beginning of the book made it hard to read more than a few paragraphs at a time. i don't know if the story eventually picked up enough to make it easier to ignore the glaring literary deficiencies, or if the writing improved later, but after the first few chapters, the book read much more fluidly.

of course, this book has been riddled with controversy, as some have accused Young of goddess worship and modalism, among other things. i felt it was a very bold move to dare to write a dialogue with God, which i give him props for. i didn't agree with everything he said or how he said it, but it's a novel - not a theological treatise. it's a story of grace, mercy, and forgiveness, written in the framework of one man's meeting with the Trinity for a weekend. it seems that those caught up in accusing Young of heresy are missing the fact that it is simply a story. though it definitely could have used more editing and a bit more clarity at times, it does pose an interesting read to challenge many of the assumptions about God, church, theology, and christian living that tend to exist in many circles.

1 comment:

Curtis said...

I am just starting to read "The Shack". My wife loved the book and I have that many criticize the book. However, I lost respect of these criticisms when I learned first hand that Gary Breshears saw no heresy and said that a person needs to remember that it's a novel. The name brings a lot of respect considering he was the president of the Evangelical Theological Society for a term. For whatever it's worth I think this book is going to expand my own theological imagination.

I just found your blog and I look forward to hearing about he books you are reading.