Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Book Review: The Book of the King

I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. I had high hopes of grand adventure and spiritual allegory akin to the Chronicles of Narnia. While it did contain a fair amount of that, I just never fully got sucked into the world the authors created.

In The Book of the King, by Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry, present-day Owen Reeder lives with his father above their tiny bookstore. He is unaware of the supernatural events occurring around him, until he is chased by a gang of boys one day and finds himself swept back to solid ground when he runs right over a hole in the earth. Soon, he encounters a man with a very special book and is led into mysterious other dimensions in his fight to keep and understand that book.

I suppose I was put off at the beginning. The first two sentences are a mock warning (intended to serve as an enticement) to those incapable of handling the promised adventures within (similar to the tone of Lemony Snicket in The Series of Unfortunate Events books):

"To tell the story of Owen Reeder - the whole story and not just the parts that tickle the mind and make you laugh from the belly like one who has had too much to drink - we have to go into much unpleasantness. So if you are faint of heart and can't stand bloody battles and cloaked figures in the darkness and invisible creatures (or visible ones who don't have much of a sense of humor), and if you don't like to cry over a story when someone you love is taken, then perhaps our tale is not for you."

It was more a matter of the tale not being for me because of the constant insertion of direct interaction with the reader and the pretentious manner. The reader is addressed by the authors repeatedly with warnings about what they will soon see and encounter within the story. I suppose I tend to prefer stories where the reader is so caught up in what is happening that the presence and actual being of the author is temporarily forgotten. Plus, while talking to the reader above the story, so often the message seemed to attempt loftiness. For example:

"When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a frightened young man to slip the surly bonds of danger and touch the face of freedom, please note that the back door of a restaurant is not always the best exit."

I know I'm not the intended audience. Moreover, I do think young people will be more sucked in by the story and less irritated with the author-to-reader comments. Who knows, they might even be riveted enough to continue in the series (since the ending held no ending at all). For me, I'm not likely to keep the book for my sons to read, even though I purchased it.

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