CSFF Blog Tour – The God Hater, Day 3

The Review

Of course, I’m talking about a review of the February CSFF Blog Tour feature, The God Hater by Bill Myers (visit his author page on Facebook). Please know that, of necessity, I will give some spoilers. I’ll try to alert you to any major reveals, so you can skip those sections if you, as I most often prefer, want to hold onto the surprise of first reading.

The Story. An atheist philosopher, befriended by a Christian biologist, becomes embroiled in corporate intrigue as he tries to help his brother save the virtual world he’s created with his inventive technology.

That’s it in a very small nutshell. If you’d like more detail, other participants such as Jessica Thomas have done a much better job telling what the story is about.

The Strengths. I’m not sure I can do justice in this short review to how much I liked the The God Hater. It was an entertaining story from the first page to the last. As I said in my first post about the book, I connected with the atheist protagonist immediately. I also felt like I knew most of the others — co-worker Annie and her son Rusty, brother Travis, his assistant Rebecca, and most especially Alpha 11, his wife, daughter, and (to a lesser degree) his son.

Beyond interesting, believable characters, I found the story to be engaging. I was caught up by the corporate intrigue and danger, the possibility of a little romance, and the fate of the e-community Travis had created.

But most important was the truth the story revealed. The theme was powerfully woven through the story. With the word “God” in the title, there’s no doubt that the book is about spiritual matters. The opening scene confirms this, as does an interplay between Professor Mackenzie, the atheist, and his Christian colleague, Annie Brooks, in chapter two.

From that point on, apart from an interesting exchange between Mackenzie and his former student, Travis’s assistant Rebecca, the spiritual issues are addressed metaphorically through the means the problem solvers use to keep Travis’s e-world from self-destruction. It’s interesting and effective. It certainly brought up spiritual and philosophical issues — the incarnation, legalism, self-sacrifice, friendship evangelism, the role of religion in society — that are thought-provoking.

As far as the setting is concerned, this was probably the least significant element in the book. But because I grew up in Santa Barbara where this story purportedly occurred, I was especially interested in the scenes that revealed place. And yes, I could picture them quite well.

Weaknesses. When I closed the book … even before, if I remember correctly, I thought, I want more. That’s a good thing, to be sure because if the book wasn’t working, I’d probably think something like, Thank goodness it wasn’t very long! But the truth is, the story did work, and consequently, I wanted it to go deeper.

For example, I found the “debate sections” very engaging. I thought those scenes revealed our atheist protagonist on one level, and I wanted more of that. I also thought the corporate intrigue sections were gripping, and I wanted more of that, particularly things that would reveal motives of those who apparently sold out. And I loved the scenes in the virtual world with the e-humans, but I wanted more of that.

On each level, it seemed to me that the theme could have taken on a deeper dimension if parts of the story had been developed further.

One other point, with a * * * MAJOR SPOILER ALERT * * *

There were a couple character deaths I didn’t like. One was the baby-sitter who seemed to die needlessly and who seemed quickly forgotten and never mourned. I think I noticed because with the mention of her extensive computer hardware, I expected her to play a bigger role (other than providing the tool by which Rusty found his mom).

The other, of course, was Nicholas. I thought the book would have been stronger if he had lived and had to then confront what he had learned from his virtual self’s sacrifice. Having him sacrifice himself freed him from having to grapple with the truth. It gave a teary moment, but I’d have preferred him to be in a corner where he needed to change or to turn his back on what he now knew. Maybe that’s just me.

That’s it. * * * End Spoiler Alert * * *

Recommendation. I unhesitatingly recommend this book. But to whom? Will Christians like it? Those of “free will” persuasion (such as Rachel Briard) will. Some members of our tour (see for example Emily LaVigne‘s post) specifically mentioned what a spiritual impact the book had on them. And Bruce Hennigan says,

If I could purchase 1000 copies of this book, I would give it away to every college student I meet and every young adult faced with the challenge of maintaining the Christian faith in today’s society.

But what about non-Christians? I like Thomas Clayton Booher‘s conclusion:

The God Hater confronts the reader with some heavy philosophical and theological ideas. Whether these would be a challenge to the Atheist’s faith, I’m not sure. But it may cause him to pause and think about some things that he never thought about before, and that could be the starting point of a journey to understanding.

So I guess I’d say, I highly recommend this book for Christians who want to read a good story, for those interested in learning more about interacting with people holding an atheistic worldview, but especially for Christians who want a resource they can use as a conversation starter with their non-Christian friends.

Be sure to check out what the other CSFF Blog Tour participants listed at the end of the Day 1 post have to say about The God Hater.

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

Published in: on February 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm  Comments (5)  
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