Customer Reviews for

The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

86 out of 90 people found this review helpful.

Best book I've read in 10 years!

I had very mixed feelings about reading a book about God that was on the best seller list and was being sold at Costco and Walmart. When I was given a copy by a good friend, I decided to dive in and see what the fuss was about.

I was shocked at how good it w...
I had very mixed feelings about reading a book about God that was on the best seller list and was being sold at Costco and Walmart. When I was given a copy by a good friend, I decided to dive in and see what the fuss was about.

I was shocked at how good it was, especially given all the negative things people have said about it (bad writing style, odd characters, odd theology, etc.). I found it to be an extraordinarily good depiction of the relationship within the Trinity, what that implys for God's relationship with us, and how God's love reaches out to us in our pain and confusion.

I have been a committed Christian since I was very young, but have struggled for years with the certainty that I could never live up to God's standards. By nature, I have been an intellectual Christian v.s. a relational one, and have always been somewhat suspicious and resistant to relationships of any kind, particularly when they involved religion or God.

The Shack's amazing narratives between Mack and God so captured my heart (where did that come from?!), that I've been on a trek ever since to discover more about who this God is (the theology of the Trinity, etc.), how He works in our lives and how I can rest in his love. Its been an amazing journey!

I highly recommend The Shack. Ignor the negative comments about it and make up your own mind. (Don't take my word for it, or theirs!) What is clear from reading the blogs is that it has touched many people's lives, especially those who have wrestled with loss of loved ones or other personal tragedies. There is also many positive scholarly reviews as well as negative ones (seems to be somewhat a function of vested interests in their own books and teachings). If it speaks to your heart as it did mine, it will be worth everything to you.

posted by 283998 on November 1, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

33 out of 59 people found this review helpful.

Author's voice too loud

The author clearly intended to deliver a theological message to his readers in this modern day allegory. And the message is a good one. God desires a deeply personal relationship with us and he loves us enough to give us the gift of free will. But I felt like Young was ...
The author clearly intended to deliver a theological message to his readers in this modern day allegory. And the message is a good one. God desires a deeply personal relationship with us and he loves us enough to give us the gift of free will. But I felt like Young was beating me over the head with his own personal interpretation of scripture. There was no room for me to contemplate. The author just told me what to think. I liked the message, but I didn't enjoy the book. I understand Young is not a professional writer. He wrote this story for his kids with no intention of being published. Still, it was not a pleasurable reading experience for me.

posted by Erika97 on February 11, 2009

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  • Posted February 11, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Author's voice too loud

    The author clearly intended to deliver a theological message to his readers in this modern day allegory. And the message is a good one. God desires a deeply personal relationship with us and he loves us enough to give us the gift of free will. But I felt like Young was beating me over the head with his own personal interpretation of scripture. There was no room for me to contemplate. The author just told me what to think. I liked the message, but I didn't enjoy the book. I understand Young is not a professional writer. He wrote this story for his kids with no intention of being published. Still, it was not a pleasurable reading experience for me.

    33 out of 59 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2011

    Blah

    Not impressed! I could not wait to finish this book. The beginning an end were great but about 100 pages in the middle completely lost me. Don't waste your time. This book is redundant.

    11 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2009

    Didn't sit right

    This book is quite exciting and very popular right now, but many parts did not sit right with me. For instance God saying, "Do whatever you want." And the fact that God is portrayed as a woman because He limits himself to be what we need. It does have the three in one trinity, and there are other parts I enjoyed and agreed with, but it was just off enough to bother me.

    11 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 28, 2009

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    People love ideas more than truth

    This book does have a great message about forgiveness. the problem is that it simply isn't correct. People love the book because it presents a beautiful picture of something we all want to experience. That is great. But the picture presented is dangerous because it is very misleading and it is obviously impacting a LOT of people, even spokesperson Christians. This shows a very undiscerning audience among people who are so eager to share the idea of love that they fall in love with the book more than they love the Bible and it's presentation.
    The story is bookended with the idea of God's non-condemnation. In the Beginning, Papa tells Mack that He (God) never condemned Jesus or left Him on the Cross, that Jesus only perceived that because of His incredible pain (he was delusional). At the end of the book, Papa tells MAck that He is not a condemning God, that He never condemns.
    This goes against the gospel. If God does not condemn then we have no salvation. Romans 8:1 says, "There is THEREFORE now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." The only reason there is no longer any condemnation (only for those who are in Christ Jesus according to this verse and the rest of scripture, not everyone) is because Christ already received it in our place. That's the whole point of the atonement.
    Again, the story is pretty, but it is misleading and many undiscerning people are caught up in the "beauty" of the story because they want forgiveness on their terms, not Gods.
    For a book that, by the authors own admission, is trying to influence people who are dissallusioned with Church like He is, this is a very dangerous book, because he is trying to sell a theological idea regardless of what he says about being a theologian. If you are going to tell God's story, you need to tell it right. It is poor stewardship of God's revelation.

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 10, 2009

    I read this because of so many people suggestion

    I found Young's theology to be very interesting and on target with my beliefs. However, I found Jesus and the Spirit too sugary sweet.

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2009

    Disappointing

    As a statement of a particular systematic theology, it's clear and mildly entertaining. And for those who've never encountered this particular theology or this view of God, I can see where it could be compelling and important. I can even say that I'm glad I read it. It reminded me of some things I had let myself forget, and it helped me to focus on some important questions.

    But as a book, and particularly as a novel, my primary impression is that it was really, really bad.

    First off, it's a novel that pretends it's nonfiction, which is annoying at the least and fraudulent at worst. (In the two days since I learned this, I've already encountered people who were misled into thinking it was a true story. Lots of people don't know what a "novel" is, as I've found out in teaching.) Since this is not the 19th Century, I don't understand why we have to have a foreword and afterword that pretend like this is all true. When novels were first being figured out, this was somewhat commonplace, but we've moved past it a long, long time ago. Doing it now not only seems ridiculously outdated and unnecessary, but like a cheap stunt. (I suspect the real reason it was done is that the author wasn't able to figure out how to work the backstory in to the main text and so needed the foreword to somehow get it in there.) It's made worse by the fact that the foreword describes our main character as someone who's really at his best conversing with experts. This kind of flies in the face of the rest of the book, where he seems easily dumbfounded by concepts no more esoteric than fractals.

    Structure aside, the book is just poorly written. Several sentences were befuddling for no good reason. Others were just cliched, dull, or laughably obvious. ("They had a veritable feast of burgers, fries, and shakes." Hoo boy. First, that's not a feast, veritable or otherwise. Second, if their food is that pedestrian, why do we even need to know about it?) One of the best lines of the book is "Faith doesn't grow in the house of certainty." Yes, you read that right. One of the best lines is an incomplete metaphor. It couldn't be the garden of certainty, the soil of certianty, or as my wife suggested, the hothouse of certainty?

    At the heart of the book is the main character's grief over the murder of his young daughter. He kind of works through this in a way that's kind of authentic. But I really felt the book cheated there, shielding him from all the worst stuff and letting everything work out in the best way it possibly could to give him closure. I'm not sure how much comfort that will be to people who live in a nonfiction world where some people don't get a miraculous solution that leads to earthly justice and a tidy ending.

    And like all interpretations, this one reveals some things clearly and conceals others. The God it points toward is amazing, and if this book is someone's first or second or third step toward that God, great. God will use it for good, as with all things. But the people who are launching the "Missy Project" to get the book wider recognition and make a movie and everything should realize that this book has no "literary qualities" worth praising. God is worth better than this, much better. I appreciate that this guy tried to do something good, and I value the good that's come from it. But as a reader and someone who's a bit familiar with literature, I'm disappointed.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 29, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Biblically Misleading Read

    The Shack was well written, creative, and to a small degree, enjoyable and engaging. However, the book clearly distorts the character and nature of God. I was also uncomfortable with the manifestations of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit as women, and found this book overall to be touchy-feely and predictable.

    The story in The Shack basically removes God's perfect holiness righteousness and justice from His Essence. It also removes the eternal fact that sin is an offense to God that needs to be judged. God cannot just ignore sin and let people in the back door of heaven as this book seems to imply. The story also gives the false impression that if one chooses to not have faith alone in Christ alone, that God won't put them in the Lake of Fire, which is not true according to the Bible.

    In short, The Shack does not properly depict or explain the Biblical description of the Triune God or what it means to have a true relationship with Him through faith alone in Christ alone.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 8, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Don't skip this one

    I read this in one evening; I couldn't put it down. By the end it had me in tears. It was a much needed reminder to me of how infinite God's love is.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 20, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    WOW, this is overrated

    This was such a big seller in the book business for a few weeks, so I thought I really should read it to see what the fuss was about. I think it is vastly overrated. Other authors and religious people have written about the same religious insights. The story is very child-like. So, if your understanding of God is muddled and you like sweet stories, maybe you would rate this highly. For me, it was a big disappointment.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 6, 2008

    Over Rated

    I really wanted to like this book & I did until Mack went to the shack & met Papa. The book completely lost me @ about page 75. It just became so fluffy & sweet. It's the book equivalent to cotton candy; looks good, seems like a good idea but in reality it makes your stomach & teeth hurt. I hated the part where Mack told Jesus that he thought he would have been more "humanly attractive" (handsome). WHAT!??! Why would that be one of the first things he would say?? It just seems so ridiculous. That¿s the perfect word to sum up this book¿ ridiculous. The Shack was chosen for this month's book club read & I had to finish it but if I was reading it on my own I would have put it down long ago.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 31, 2008

    Alright

    Great concepts and ideas, touching story-- writing via Mack's persona was too "simple." The writing style was boring and lost me mid-way through the book, but the ideas and message of the book were touching and thought-provoking.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2008

    too out there

    I was disaapointed with the unrealistic path the main character took to deal with grief. With the moving introduction, I was expecting a story of someone overcoming great pain. However, I wasn't expecting something that didn't feel like it could be remotely plausible. I'm a believe in god, and I believe a lot of things are possible. But this didn't speak to my faith at all.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2008

    A reviewer

    As a Christian myself, I thought this book would be a wonderful read. After doing some extensive research, I have found there are many heresies pertaining in this novel. First and foremost, I am not an atheist, a lunatic, or what some may call a 'fanatical Christian.' I believe that Christians today need to develop the power of discernment to determine when something that may appear to be of 'Godly' material, may in fact be just the opposite. The second commandment clearly states that no image should be made in the form of God. This book clearly does just that. There is punishment for sin and Jesus died on the cross to take that punishment. Please my fellow Christians, when reading, watching, or observing anything pertaining to the Lord, please always refer to you Bible for the Truth.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2012

    Weird

    I consider myself pretty open minded but this went too far off the rails of believability for me. I am not saying that this couldnt possibly happen but I had a hard time suspending my disbelief. And I wanted ro like it. Maybe my concept of God is provincial and I could use some metaphysical debate but this wasnt an eye opener for me.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2011

    Not so great

    I couldn't mak myself finish this book. The opening grabbed me but the rest seemed to just drag on.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2010

    What a disappointment!

    Although this book was recommended by so many people, it really was a disappointment. The underlying plot (the reason the little girl disappears) was pretty good but the remaining plot with the other "characters" was quite elementary. It was just too fantasy-like to be of interest to me. I prefer historical fiction and this book left me feeling like I wasted my time reading it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2010

    A read for ones who I believe have to question their faith or their life.

    It was not as interesting as I thought it was going to be. People raved about what a "great" read it is, and I just didn't think it was all that. Of course, I'm more of a drama and romance reader, and I just didn't see that in this book. But I recommend this read for people who've lost their way in living their life or who don't have a great perspective in life or aren't as religious or who've simply lost faith. A definite read for prisoners isolated in jail cells.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2010

    Nothing great.

    I don't know why so many people adore this book so much. I was eager to read it since I had heard such great things. Those great things never happened. It is an "okay" story, but no great revelation as I had expected based on others' recommendations.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2009

    Not so good

    I couldn't get half way through this book. It was too boring for me!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Shack Review by Megan

    William P. Young wrote The Shack to give faith to the faithless, hope to the hopeless, and to convince people that there really is a God out there somewhere. Young writes about a depressed father whose daughter was brutally murdered on a family vacation. The father (Mack) receives a note from God telling him to return to "The Shack" were his daughter was killed. After reading the first 60 or so pages I had high hopes about the rest of the book. Page 53 is probably William Young's finest moment, as he emotionally writes about Mack realizing his daughter is dead. But Young's writing often lacks emotion; his style and word play is weak at critical points in the book. When Mack met God for the first time, I almost didn't believe it. The scenario is just way too far fetched for the reader to connect to the story. Through the next 100 pages of Mack's many conversations with God I was bored and frustrated. I kept waiting for Mack to explode with anger because of what God let happen to his daughter, but he just wouldn't do it. There were times in the novel where I thought he was going to, but Mack would simply regain his composer and calm himself down. The chapters and chapters of Mack's conversations with God lacked feeling and believability. The ending was mediocre at best and far too short. Overall, The Shack just didn't live up to what it could have been. It was a good idea that lacked most of the necessary elements needed to become a great novel. Going into The Shack, I expected to come out a changed person, but I'm exactly the same. Well, at least I made it out.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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