I first and foremost hope to preempt the onslaught of crap that I may get from Christians about this post.  I have no problem with people’s beliefs.  I believe that everyone should have a right to worship whatever they want to worship and should not be persecuted for it.  However, I do not appreciate when someone else’s beliefs are shoved down my throat, or when an article or book or movie is misrepresented and I make it all the way through some pretty decent writing (or movie or whatever) and it turns out to be propaganda.

Just be honest in the description of the book.  If it is a Christian based book, it should be categorized as such.

I live in Texas.  I hear enough about God and Jesus on a regular basis just LIVING here, I don’t need it to bleed over into the books I read when I do not intentionally set out to read something with a Christian twist.

The book in question is “Reunion” by Jeff Bennington. I titled this post “Lukewarm” because that is how I feel toward it.

I usually go on “book raids” of the free section in Smashwords and Amazon, and I end up downloading a bunch of books at a time.  “Reunion” was including in one of these raids.

I carefully screen the books I read for content that I find unpalatable.  See “Da Rules” here.  Months after I originally downloaded this book, I was looking for an interesting read and came across the cover art for this book.  It intrigued me so I decided to give it a go.

It is about a school shooting.  I know this violates some of my rules, but teenagers dying is different from children my daughter’s age.  The book looks at the event from several different vantage points.  From the shooter, to the victims, each of the character’s stories are shared in depth.

The book then advances twenty years after the event.  I did enjoy this section, as I often wonder what happens to those who have experienced such a public trauma.  Understandably, most of the characters have moved out of the area after high school.  For most of the characters, the “event” changed the trajectory of their lives forever.

Someone gets the grand idea to have a reunion.  Only five people agree to go back.  The book then chronicles each character’s actions and feeling about being back where it all happened.

The “supernatural” part of it is that the school, which was closed and boarded up after the shooting, is haunted.

I do have a belief in the afterlife, and I have experienced paranormal events myself (can you say Gettysburg?) so I am familiar with the concept.  But out of all of the shows I have seen, all of the books I have read on the subject, none of them come close to what this “ghost” can do.

So I continued reading, mostly out of curiosity.  The classmates have their “reunion” after several events occur that clearly scream out “this is a bad idea”.  It was kind of like watching a scary movie and knowing that the killer is hiding in the closet or behind the shower curtain and screaming “watch out” to the people on screen.

Predictably, the paranormal events continue and become more severe.  There is also this twist to the killer that I truly didn’t expect.  That made me really think hard about what occurs when these type of event happens, and it brought up the “what if” idea.  So for that reason alone I kept on going to the end.

And in the end I found an allegory.  A sermon.  Preaching.  It isn’t particularly Christian, but the end result is more like “this happened because of Satan”.

And that really ticked me off.

I know there is this entire genre of Christian books.  I have read some of them willingly.  I do not like religion sneaking up on me at the end of a pretty good book (up until that point) when I am not expecting it.

The end of the book was wrapped up way too neatly….complete with someone going out to “find God”.

If you don’t mind the preaching and are adequately prepared for it, I would give this a try.  The description of the “event” was very detailed and written very well.  The actual writing is of decent quality, if maybe a little over the top.  I do enjoy the way writers tell the story, the prose that they use, interesting style, and I did find it in this book.

This book did inspire me to take a look back at some of the real life events that this book was based on.

I was a junior in high school when Columbine happened.  I hadn’t revisited the whole saga until I read this book.  I was surprised at how much info on the killers, their activities and the event is now open to the public.  I do see how that incident shaped school policy and police procedures since that happened.

For that insight alone, this book might earn a recommendation.  Just as long as you know the ending is a bit wonky and preachy.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Indra
    Feb 12, 2013 @ 17:12:10

    I remember Columbine well. I’ve since heard that the mother of one victim killed herself and I honestly found it understandable. She lost her precious daughter … but I digress. I don’t think you’ve said anything offensive to Christians. The writer had an agenda and it sounds like the end of the book was damaged promoting that agenda. Plus wrapping up a book too neatly is bad form, yet it is promoted by the industry i.e. “The Hollywood Ending.” It would not surprise me if the publisher pushed the author into that ending. I think your critique was valid. Your reviews are always honest, thoughtful, and never bashing like so many reviews I read. I checked out the book on Amazon and was amazed to see 254 reviews! And it is a best-seller on Kindle. It is listed under “Occult” which does not imply Christianity at all to me. Many of the reviews echoed your main issues with the book. They complained of the “neat and tidy ending” and of the “surprise Christian sermon” at the end. Seems to me like you’re right on point.


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