The Shack – Book Review

The Shack by William P. Young

“The Shack” is, to say the least, a very interesting book.  Allen Philips’ family has had a terrible family tragedy for which he blames himself.  Unable to move past this unfortunate event, Allen one days finds a letter in his mailbox from God, inviting him to the same abandoned shack where the worst event of his life took place.

Through Allen’s interaction with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, “The Shack” wrestles with the question of where God is when bad things happen to us, why those bad things are allowed to happen to us at all, and the whole idea of the Trinity.  The theology certainly won’t jive with everyone’s personal beliefs, but it does raise some interesting questions and I can see why it has been such a phenomenon (as of the time I’m writing this, it is #5 on Amazon’s list of best selling books).

The premise and execution are very interesting, if the questions above hold an interest for you.  The writing is pretty mediocre though, not anywhere approaching terrible, but definitely not great.

Buy this book on Amazon.

14 comments to The Shack – Book Review

  • Boy, I have heard all kinds of stuff on this book. From the ladies that attcked me when I picked it up in Borders, all good things. From the blogging community, not so good, especially with regards to the writing. Considering my bookshelf and lists are full to overflowing, I may pass!

  • Ti

    Someone told me that this was a page turner. A good book to take on the plane was her exact statement. I don’t know much about this book but I remember then the whole Left Behind series came out and how I got so wrapped up in it even though I was not religious per se. If it is a page turner like that series then I may hold my interest.

  • Kathy

    While I stood in line to vote last November, a woman in front of me was reading this book. A woman behind me noticed and they got into a long discussion about it. I haven’t read the book, but I did like the fact that this one was so discussion worthy.

  • Ti – It is fairly compelling and a VERY fast read. It it is more contemplative than the Left Behind books, they were more like religious thrillers and this is more about struggling with meaning, but it does keep you reading.

  • Shana

    Jen- This is our book club pick for February. I’m gonna wait to read your review. Hopefully I’ll remember to come back when I’ve finished it. And hopefully you liked it.

  • Ugh, I haven’t been able to read this b/c I’ve heard so much bad stuff about the writing. I have a hard time with poor writing. But I’m glad that it’s been a source of healing for a lot of people. That’s the best a book can do!

  • I picked up a copy from our library sale, but didn’t make it past the first chapter or so. It irritates me that such mediocre writing can make it to the top of the bestseller lists, while more worthy books get ignored by the reading public!

  • I’m all for authors using literature as a means of exploring religious ideas should they so choose, but I have read a more explicit/detailed summary of the plot of this book, and it was so ridiculous and far-fetched that I would never be able to take it seriously, I’m pretty sure. Also, the bad writing would be a deal breaker as well.

    And I realize this book is totally different in terms of its scope, but I can’t help feeling The Shack looks like a Nicholas Sparks novel should he venture into the horror/thriller genre.


  • I really didn’t care for it….

  • I’ve heard pretty much the same thing from other reviewers that I trust. That it was interesting, but with mediocre writing.

  • This isn’t a book I have any real interest in reading, I admit, but I have enjoyed reading the discussions by those who have read it. It seems to spark quite a range of emotions and ideas–from those who love it to those who hate every word, and everything in between.

  • Kristy

    Thanks for all your wonderful reviews. I have this book in my to be read pile.

  • Julie

    Having read The Shack twice, I have to say I’m really disappointed to read those who commented about the quality of the writing. Why does everything have to be “high-brow”` to be worthy of attention. Personally I found it a great read, a beautiful story which left me feeling happy and peaceful. My father who is a Church of Scotland minister also says that it is theologically sound. Why not read it just to enjoy it and not be so snobbish about “quality”. I believe we should all read a variety of genres. Who knows it may change your perceptions!

    • Different people read for different reasons. I think it is equally valid to read for the story or message or to read for the quality of the writing. It really all just depends on what a reader is looking for. With that in mind, it can be very helpful to comment one way or another on the quality of the writing. Poor writing does not mean that the book is worthless, but it does mean that some people may not be able to appreciate the message if they read primarily for style. I would also say that I do not think that good writing is the same as being “high-brow.” I enjoy a good deal of genre fiction that is certainly not “high-brow,” but I still prefer for the writing to be solid, at the very least.