I have mostly missed the hype behind "The Shack", not always by plan, because for whatever reason the book still hasn't made it to the library I frequent.
But I finally caved, and bought a copy of it last week.
It's an easy read, not overly long, and I finished it in a couple of days.
My impressions of it are mixed.
For one thing, comparing it to "Pilgrim's Progress", as one reviewer seems to do, is to my mind premature. It's not yet a classic, and I have my doubts that it will reach that status.
Story-wise, much of the first part of the book is interesting enough. He creates a good premise, and develops it rather well, up to a point. I'll not spoil it, and for that matter my concerns are not with the story itself.
There is a touch of un-real-ness to parts of it, though. The characters are perhaps too nice, too cooperative. The only evil character in the book, the kidnapper, isn't even really in the book per se. There is brief mention of some people having seen him, but he is distant, though his actions are of great consequence.
In truth, though, the book is less about the story then it is about the talks between the main character, Mack, and the persons of God. It is here that his ideas become clearer, and such are what I'm most concerned about here.
I think I will treat this differently from other books. There are things that I found to be good in it, and as well things that were at least questionable. I want to deal with the good things first, because they are pretty important things, and then with the other things after that.
There is one thing that I want to make mention of here, though, before anything else.
There is always a problem when dealing with spiritual and supernatural elements in novels, especially I would suppose Christian ones. And if one goes so far as to have Jesus or even the Father act or speak, that difficulty only increases.
And so, there are often work-arounds. For example, in the Narnia books, the Christ-like character is given a different name and different form. In Lewis' Space books and Peretti's Darkness stories, angelic beings are used. Dostoevsky puts a silent Jesus into the story of the Grand Inquisitor, but that is actually a story told in the overall book.
To my mind, Young, the author of The Shack, made a mistake in putting his words into the mouths of the persons of the Godhead. This simply gives them more weight then they may otherwise have had. I'm not going to say that what he did was unique, but that it's something that is questionable at best.