May 14, 2011

Review: Koliba (The Shack)

by William P. Young
  • Paperback: 267 pages
  • Publisher: Naklada Ljevak (first edition: July 1, 2007)
  • Language: Croatian (original language: English)
  • ISBN-10:978-953-303-018-0
  • Source: bought
  • Rating: 1.5/5
Mackenzie Allen Philips youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.
The reason why I'm reviewing the Croatian edition of this book is simply because I bought it for my mom who doesn't speak English but wanted to read it (if it was just for me, I prefer reading books in the language they were originally written in). So of course I read it first because I was compelled to see what it is about this book that it sold so well and apparently "changed lives of millions." The tagline "Where tragedy confronts eternity" is quite intriguing, the story sounds interesting enough.This book was everywhere,ads jumping out of newspapers, getting into your face at newsstands, falling off the shelves in bookstores.

Well, the first thing I can tell you about it-marketing is devil's work.
I really had great expectations from this novel. I'm not particularly religious and I consider myself an agnostic rather than a Catholic. I guess I wanted to see if this book could convince me in something, provide answers or at least theories. Heck, I hoped that at least it would be entertaining. The only reason why I kept going was the expectation that I 'd find something to hold on to-but I was disappointed by the middle of the novel. With The Shack you have to separate your feelings about the theology presented and the novel itself. None worked for me.
It's obvious that the man is not a writer, he is dictating the story to his friend. Not much poetics, style, figures of speech...Since I read the translation, I can mostly judge the translator's style, which I liked a lot because it was more poetic than the original, at least the chapter in English that I read online.

I'll start of with the things I liked. First, God is a black woman who cooks delicious meals. Okay, I get it, it's a cliche if you want to destroy the myth of God as a white old man...but still, what Mack learns from God sounds much better coming from her mouth. Then, even though I couldn't accept most of the reasoning of God letting all that evil stuff happen to mankind, there was one thread that I liked particularly-the deistic point of view which goes something like "You have demanded to be independent from me since Adam and Eve. I gave you your independence and freedom of choice, and yet you still blame me for whatever befalls you." In your face, cynical world.
Furthermore, there was some slight talk about organized religion. Let's just say, Jesus isn't very happy with it either. 

But...there were so many more things I hated. Mack estranges from God after his little girl goes missing and is found dead later. One day he gets an invitation from God to go back to the shack where the little one was killed and God explains his/her reasons for letting it happen. As a mother, I can say that there is absolutely NO REASONING THAT COULD CONVINCE ME THAT WHAT HAPPENED TO MY CHILD WAS NOT FOR THE WORST. No, dear God, I cannot forgive the guy who did it and I wouldn't bother trying, no matter how much faith I had-at least not for the reasons offered to Mack. So, in that aspect, the book failed for me as well. If you want to read about "forgive thy enemy", the core idea of this novel, then don't bother with this. The Bible has been doing it better for centuries.
People either love or hate this book, judging by the ratings on Goodreads and Amazon and the mixed reviews it got.I can't say I hated it, but it's definitely one of the biggest bookish disappointments ever.

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