Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The God Hater

Title: The God Hater

Series: Stand-alone

Author: Bill Myers

Genre: Adult Near-future Sci-fi

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The God Hater:

Samuel Preston, a local reporter with bronzed skin and glow-in-the-dark teeth, turned to one of the guests of his TV show God Talk. “So what’s your take on all of this, Dr. Mackenzie?”

The sixty-something professor stared silently at his wristwatch. He had unruly white hair and wore an outdated sports coat.

“Dr. Mackenzie?”

He glanced up, disoriented, then turned to the host, who repeated the question. “What are your feelings about the book?”

Clearing his throat, Mackenzie raised the watch to his ear and gave it a shake. “I was wondering…” He trailed off, his bushy eyebrows gathered into a scowl as he listened for a sound.

The second guest, a middle-aged pastor with a shirt collar two sizes too small, smiled. “Yes?”

Mackenzie gave up on the watch and turned to him. “Do you make up this drivel as you go along? Or do you simply parrot others who have equally stunted intellects?”

An atheist professor and his Christian colleague become entwined with a computer program to die for.

Craft: The God Hater is a story that both impressed me and left me less than enthused.

On one hand, this novel was written to make a point. Such stories tend to be preachy, and the content usually saps all life out of the story itself. But with The God Hater, it never devolved to that point.

Yes, the story is blunt, but rarely did the content seem out of join with the characters of plot. (I define preachiness when content is forced upon the story in an unnatural way; see more here.) But rather the story does a fairly good job balancing story and content, holding my attention throughout the book. That’s what impressed me.

That said, as a story alone, The God Hater does little for peaking the interest. I found the plot predictable as a whole, and the characters seem to lack that last bit of complexity to really engage me. The prose was straightforward. The ending felt too unresolved—but that is largely a personal taste in this case. The allegorical elements were well applied, which was the main thing that kept this story afloat for me. But overall, very little in the craft commends itself to my attention.

Content: This is where The God Hater shines best. The analogy presented of God’s relationship with man—though incomplete, as every allegory must be due to its limited nature—is unusually apt and brings out some aspects we don’t always consider.

However, a heavy-hitting allegory—a necessity for this particular story—often seems to me less than effective. It usually leeches the very power of story it wishes to employ and strikes me as alienating to the very people it wishes to influence, especially if the story supporting the allegory cannot hold its own. And while this novel doesn't leech the power, neither are the characters and the plotline sufficient to entice me to read the book.

But that again has more to do with the craft; the content itself seems spot-on. It doesn’t present anything startling or complex, but the basic dots of God’s truth are connected in a way somewhat different that we are use to.

Summary: While The God Hater doesn’t impress me as a story, it does a decent job holding the attention while presenting basic truth in a slightly different fashion. It might be a good read for baby Christians, or for older Christians wanting to see the familiar in a new light.

Rating: Craft—3, Content—4, Overall—3.9 out of 5 stars

Disclaimer: In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher.


Jessica Thomas said...

As soon as the bee allergies were mentioned in the beginning, I knew they were both going to be stung and it was going to be a "race to say alive". Seen that trick before, in a work of Christian fiction actually. Other things surprised me and made me curious to read ahead, though. Coming from an impatient reader that's saying a lot. (I only skimmed a few pages, whereas the last book I read, I skimmed the entire last quarter..."get on with it, get on with it"

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Clearly I liked the book more than you did. Wonder why that is. I was quickly lost in the story and enjoyed it on that level first and foremost. Interestingly some of the others on the tour who liked it a lot would not be considered either older or baby Christians, so I think it might be a matter of taste and/or what God's doing in our lives.