(Book review) Riven


Reviewed by: Carson Jacobs, a professional writing major at Taylor University and a freelance writer for SEG-Way News and The Waynedale News

 


Introduction

Title: RIVENriven-image

Author: Jerry B. Jenkins

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

Publication Date: 2008

FormatPrint book

Length: 544 pages

OVERVIEW

Two seemingly unrelated stories become heartwarmingly interwoven in Jerry Jenkins’s book Riven. Brady, a kid whose childhood was less than desirable, rarely makes a morally upright decision. Even when he does, circumstances soon arise to make him enact a complete reversal of his actions and ruin his chances of becoming a respectful individual. Meanwhile, Thomas, a pastor who has a heart for serving the Lord but is unqualified from his peers’ standpoint, is consistently thrown into negative mission assignments. This pattern is relentless until Thomas is given the opportunity to serve as chaplain at the state penitentiary in Michigan. It is there, at the supermax, that Thomas and Brady eventually meet, and they both serve as trend-breakers for each other. Thomas guides Brady into Christianity, and Brady gives Thomas the first reason in his life for feeling validated as a pastor.

 

The writing, as expected when reading a book by Jenkins, is superb and enthralling. The story does start off a little slowly but constantly gains momentum, breaking the typical formula of an exciting beginning and end, but a boring middle. The plot concept is, unfortunately, not unexpected and can be guessed early on.  Still, there are a times in the book where the reader will feel genuine surprise. Truly, it’s difficult not to love the direction this redemptive story takes.

Since half of the novel follows a man on his way to becoming a convict, the story contains some problematic material for younger imaginations and would be best left to a more mature audience. However, Riven is a fantastic read and I would recommend it to people who enjoy more realistic fiction.

 

ASSESSMENT

Rating (1 to 5)

4 stars

Suggested Audience

13 and up

Christian Impact

There are copious amounts of Christian doctrine in the pages of this book. Thomas’s daughter cannot stand Christianity and constantly questions certain claims in the Bible about the character of Christ and Christians. Thomas, as a pastor with an incredible memory, memorizes and recites entire passages from the Bible, even leading Brady to do so as well. Some individuals are implied to have added political or personal views to their understanding of Christianity and said views are usually analyzed or even explored. In the end, a character wishes himself to be crucified like Jesus.

The treatment of this subject matter is done in Jenkins’s characteristic way, as seen in the Left Behind books. It is unadvisable for someone who lacks a total understanding of Christianity and its beliefs to read this. Whoever does read the book should have a basic knowledge of several key concepts that define Christianity.

 


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About ECLA Web Team

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals. This account is managed by the ECLA Web Team.

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