Edge of Eternity by Randy Alcorn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In this book, the central character is whisked into another world—worlds, actually, that overlap. Here he experiences the hereafter, while still alive.
I have mixed emotions about this book. While some of the lessons learned through this allegorical-style tale are valuable and reinforce important Biblical teachings, the writing-style and other story elements were, in my opinion, rather lacking.
I never felt connected to any of the characters save one, they never felt alive. The only one that was well-done was the one representing Christ—the Chasm-Crosser, the Woodsman, the King, et cetera. The main character, Nick…I never even liked him much. A lot of the dialogue and actions felt forced, and some of the jumps in the plotline felt overly-sudden, sprung upon the reader with little to no foreshadowing. The style was very much “telling”, and I kept thinking of ways the book could be re-written by showing instead of telling.
To-date I’ve only read one other of Randy Alcorn’s books, Deception, and I loved it—the characters, plot-logic, style, voice, everything—so in some ways, this book disappointed me a lot. If Edge of Eternity had been shown more than told, some of the scenes could have been mind-blowing—battle scenes between angelic forces, Nick shouting at the one representing Satan, and that fallen one screaming back, glimpses into Charis (eternal life), the Woodsman spanning the Chasm with the Tree and with his life, and the like. The scene with people oblivious to the battle of good vs. evil raging about them while Nick sees it and is trying to warn them also would’ve been stunning if amped up with a more personal, detailed style.
On the upside, a lot of the analogies/allegorical aspects were great. The rock analogy was one of my favorites. Nick and the other characters were given sacks and told to collect stones whenever they crossed a dried riverbed. Three of the characters collected a lot of rocks, Nick a few, and another character, zero. The trick to it is, when they aren’t at a riverbed, the sacks won’t open—so they can’t see what sort of stones they have collected. It turns out that those stones are their treasures, and if they withstand the fire, impurities are drained away. Inside each of the gems they can see one thing they did for the King—helping an old man, spending time talking to the King, refusing to give into sin, et cetera— and the stones are put inside of a crown for each one of them to lay at the King’s feet. No stones means you have nothing to show the King, as one of the characters discovered.
Two others that I also appreciated (out of quite a few) were the thing-treasures. While climbing up a mountain, many people tried to take all of their things with them, refusing to leave them behind even if that meant they made zero progress. My grandmother is one of those wonderful people who has truly learned that “things are things, and people are more important than things”, and this analogy reminded me much of her. Our relationship with our Father, the King, and with the people He created is more important than any mountain load of stuff we “rich Americans” think we can’t live without. While we shouldn’t disregard anything He has blessed us with, we shouldn’t hang onto it as if our lives depend upon it either.
The other analogy I also liked very much were the guardrails, representing guidelines that God has placed along the way to protect us. While descending a steep mountain along a path so narrow they had to travel single-file, Nick and his companions were confronted with a group going the opposite way, away from Charis. One wrong step off the path would gain you a fall off a steep cliff, if it wasn’t for the guardrails placed along the edge. This group didn’t like the guard rails, they complained about them, and one actually began removing them. The result? Most of the group slid off the cliff and plunged to a certain death.
So, my overall opinion of the book? The lessons were good, but the flow, characters, and style/voice weren’t so great.
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Cross-posted from my Good Reads account.