The Chasm: A Journey to the Edge of Life by Randy Alcorn (Multnomah, February 8, 2011), 128 pages
A guy’s in an alternate reality, with many gray roads and one red road. The people on the red road are strange, so he heads for the adventure of the gray road and the shiny (well, not literally) people there.
I was excited when I saw there was a new fiction title coming from Randy Alcorn. So excited, in fact, that I just grabbed it up, without doing any research. If I had, maybe I wouldn’t have read this book. I certainly wouldn’t have been so eager to do so.
The missing piece of information? The Chasm is *adapted* from one of his earlier novels, Edge of Eternity, which I didn’t remember but do recall not enjoying. (Side note: Who does that, who adapts a novel into a new novel?) I kept reading, after spotting that tidbit on the back cover of the advance copy, because The Chasm is a slip of a book. Very small. So, what’s the harm?
The Chasm (well, both books, really — as soon as I got into the book, the earlier one came flooding back) is reminiscent of The Pilgrim’s Progress, but with a different traveler. The Chasm‘s pacing is quite a bit faster than the first, which makes sense.
Part of my eagerness to read a new Alcorn was because it has been several years since I’ve read his fiction (it’s been awhile since he’s had a new release, actually), and as much as I enjoyed most of the Alcorn I read, I wasn’t without complaint. So, I wanted to see if my opinion, or the author, had changed.
The pacing of The Chasm is faster than I recall from Edge of Eternity. But that’s really the only positive thing I can say about it. I couldn’t enter into it; all the way through, I remained wholly separate from the characters.
The illustrations — by Mike Biegel — are confusing. The craft is fine, but they make it feel like a kids’ book, although the content really doesn’t fit that.
Although in actuality this book is adapted (condensed?) from a longer novel, it feels like an elongated tract. In fact, if you grew up in the evangelical church in America, I bet you can tell which one just from what I’ve already written. This brings up a big issue. What is the point of Christian art? (Is there really such a thing as Christian art?) While reading I was reminded of this blog post, at Transpositions. Opinions vary widely on what the goal of Christian fiction should be, and this topic is much bigger than the scope of this post. But, I would hope that the writer’s goal would be to create great art. When an artist brings an agenda to the page (or whatever medium), it shows. The artistic value is diminished and it gives the audience an out. Now, I’m not saying great art can’t illuminate Truth; it often does! What I am saying is, propaganda, no matter the message, is basically always not great art.
Rating: 1.5 stars
About the author
Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries. Before starting EPM in 1990 he was a pastor. He and his wife live in Oregon.
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