Thursday, December 21, 2006

Book Reviews in Brief (Very Brief, Even)

I had heard some of the buzz about this book, and with the release of the film adaptation at hand, I decided to give it a read. The buzz: Christopher Paolini was home-schooled his whole life and completed high school (via correspondence) by age fifteen. Opting to delay college entrance, he began writing what would become Eragon. By the age of nineteen, his book made the New York Times Bestseller List. (As did the second installment of his planned trilogy, released in 2005).

To be blunt, the book definitely reads like it was written by a teenager. It's not bad, but it would have been much better in the hands of a more mature writer. All the Tolkien-inspired staples of the fantasy genre appear with little adaptation, and hints of Star Wars are also present. (When young Eragon returns to his adoptive home to find it destroyed and his guardian uncle mortally wounded, I halfway expected to find stormtrooper tracks.) The dialogue is painful at times, and the frequent anachronisms in the writing kept pulling me out of the story. Nevertheless, Eragon was a quick read, and I'll probably check out the second installment. The movie, however, will definitely be a renter, due to the abysmal reviews it has received.

The Catcher in the Rye
Somehow I made it through both high-school and college without reading this book. After reading it, I don't feel like I missed anything.

Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination
Eugene Peterson's short work on the Apocalypse was both interesting and enjoyable. It is not an exegetical commentary, nor does it address many of the usual questions that stem from reading Revelation (i.e., what's the deal with "666," what about the Rapture, what is the nature of the millennium, etc). Rather, Peterson provides a series of meditations on the "last words" that John gives on topics including worship, the church, evil, judgment, salvation and heaven, with particular emphasis on the pastoral implications that the vision has for each. I was particularly impressed by Peterson's ability to tie the Revelation's various themes and symbols back into the rest of the canon. Even those not interested in the minutiae of eschatology will likely find this book edifying and stimulating.

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