86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2010
From the title, I was not expecting this novel to as good as it is. I was totally blown away by this book. I have read other reviews in Shelfari and Amazon and I agree with some of the reviewers, "...great example of using fiction to also teach sound Biblical theology...", "...wondering if this was really a non-fiction story...", "It not only helped me strengthen my faith but made me think of a lot of things about my relationship with God..", "recommend this to anyone who is going through a difficult period...Actually I would recommend this book to all Christians...", "...a great story as well as educating us on Christian doctrine..".
I did not want this to end, I cried at the end, not due to sadness but joy, at the sovereignity of God, His grace, His mercy, His love for us and above the Hope that only He can provide and give us.
A sequel would be great here. That would be such a blessing. This is one of my all time favourites.
In the league of Frank Peretti's This Present Darkness, and Piercing The Darkness, and also Graham Carter's No Eye Has Seen, even Randy Alcorn's Ishbane Conspiracy and Lord Foulgrin Letters.
This is a must read for every Christian. Highly Recommended.
44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2010
Matt Slick has written an tremendously engaging story that grabs you emotionally but also is sound in its theology and will make you think. I was brought to tears at times and at other times the suspense kept me from putting it down. My only disappointment is that it is too intense for my children to read yet. This is a great example of using fiction to also teach sound Biblical theology, unlike the theological mess of "The Shack". If you read "The Shack" and loved it then you should read this book too because it also well written fiction but also because it may clear up the theological muddiness you experienced.
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2011
Matt Slick is one of the greatest Christian apologists of our day. That being said, he's not a novelist. I'll first tackle the "cons", and then the "pros".
I give this book a 3 for writing, and a perfect 5 for theology, averaging to a decent 4. As a film and writing student, I'm going to be extra harsh when judging this story. It's clear that Matt is an amateur when it comes to storytelling, jumping in and out of third-person limited narration to give the book a sometimes emotionally jarring attitude. The characters are flat at times, with little uniqueness about them. While this keeps the characters believable, it doesn't give them much appeal. The angels and demons are by far the most interesting part of the story. The dialogue seems lame and contrived at times, with character blatantly stating their feelings and lacking the subtly of real human interaction. I guess I see a bit of Matt in each character, rather than seeing the character as an individual. This could be result of the fact that I spend so much time on his website and listening to his radio show. The story travels along and holds your interest well-enough, though it is predictable at times and lacks nuance or suspense. When someone has a prophecy about what's going to happen at the end, it's hard to take the character's confusion seriously. This goes back to the awkward third-person limited narration that fades in and out of the characters' minds. There was some interesting symbolism and parallelism going on with the butterfly imagery, but I would have liked to see more of that. Even so, the main character blatantly recognizes the symbolism and points it out to the reader, which I find to be intellectually insulting. These types of things are generally meant to be added spice for the astute reader, not obvious symbolism put in there to impress everyone.
That being said, Matt Slick's theology is spot on, and inspires a victorious "yes!" every time the main character understands a new philosophical truth. I never doubted Matt's ability to articulate the Christian faith in a concise, satisfying, and Biblical way. Though his characters ask only the "typical" questions, this is what makes the book a great buy for a skeptical friend who loves sci-fi or action stories. Though this is true, I can see many of my friends getting to the Jesus stuff at the end and promptly putting the book down. No matter, we can't water down the Gospel of Christ. I suppose my concern is that if you didn't know any better, you might not know it was a work of Christian fiction until at least halfway through, as the angel answering the questions is quite vague the entire time. I fear my non-believing friends might feel tricked, if they didn't already know it was Christian. I'll also say this: although it did seem contrived and cheesy at times, it didn't stop me from reading it every night. It's something that is hard to put down, especially as a Christian. You're just wondering to yourself, "When is this guy going to GET IT, already?" Also, Matt doesn't just go into hard biblical truth, but also adds a ton of bloody violence that is sure to satisfy anybody with appropriate levels of testosterone. Angels and demons tearing each other's wings off? Can't beat that. Which brings me to another point: This book would make a fantastic film, in the hands of a proper screen-writer. It would not work without the proper script. There are simply lines and scenes in this book which would not help the story in the medium of film.
To conclude my review, I'll say this: The ending is what makes this book. Though I personally saw it coming from a mile away, it doesn't make it any less awesome or satisfying. Matt Slick may not be a world-class novel writer, but he's a top-notch theologian and I would trust any of his literature in the hands of my non-Christian friends without batting an eyelash. This man knows his Bible. If you're a theologian who doesn't tend to read a lot of fiction, give this a try. It will satisfy your intellectual and emotional sides simultaneously, although at times in an unpolished way. With a little practice and critique, Matt could be a fantastic novelist. I would rather sacrifice the writing in favor of sound doctrine any day, anyway.
Definitely will be reading the sequel.
39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2011
If you have read "The Shack" and somehow come away believing you have read sound Biblical theology, think again. Whereas "The Shack" has you coming away feeling...whatever, "The Influence" not only challenges you intellectually and spiritually, it does so while espousing SOUND Biblical theology in a thrilling and engaging manner. "The Influence" leaves you feeling truly inspired! In other words, "The Shack" is to Chinese food what "The Influence" is to a good old-fashioned, homemade meat and potatoes dinner with all the trimmings; including your pie a la mode with a cherry on top for dessert.
Will you want to put "The Influence" down? Not likely. Will you want to pass "The Influence" onto others? Most definitely! Will "The Influence" inspire you to be an "influence" in the lives of those you love, Christian, and more importantly, non-Christian? Absolutely!! So don't just recommend "The Influence", get a copy of it into the hands of those you love.
By God's grace alone, Matt Slick has done well with "The Influence" and brought praise, glory and honor to the one true God of all creation.
"...to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen." Romans 16:27
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2011
Let me start positively first.
As far as "religious fiction" goes, this book is in the top of the list, behind obvious books such as Pilgrim's Progress or perhaps Douglas Bond novels. After getting myself into "The Shack"--without having any idea what it was about--and leaving appalled by what I ended up reading, this book was a relief. Sadly, I'm sure it will never have the same popularity as The Shack; and why would it when it speaks the Gospel (and other matters) with such clarity and bluntness? The theology is orthodox, the Gospel is apparent, and the story is pretty entertaining.
Okay, negatively now (don't get me wrong I think this book would be great for unbelievers to read).
The editing is a bit shoddy. Typos and grammatical errors can be found throughout, and sometimes they can be a bit distracting when you have to reread a sentence to figure out what the writer was attempting to say. I would simply recommend that Matt revise and put out a second edition, that would take care of that.
Also, Matt Slick is an apologist, and not really what I would think of as a novel writer. It's clear that this is his first attempt at a novel. And while I believe that it is a valiant effort--and ten times better than anything I could put out--it fails a bit in my idea of a well-written fiction book. The descriptions can be somewhat shallow, the characters a bit static, and the battle scenes a little repeditive.
That's all I'll say negatively. Bottom line, the book serves its purpose, it is clear on the issues of God's holiness, the law, the Gospel, theodicy, theology, etc. It would be a great read to give to unbelievers, or just believers looking for an entertaining fiction novel without the worldliness found in others. Basically it's like comparing a hollywood movie to a movie made by Christians, it will lack some of the editing, the plot, the acting...but overall the message is more edifying and the words more encouraging.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2012
Overall, I enjoyed this book. The apologetics were spot-on, and there was nothing that I would consider a doctrinal error. I did feel the demonic descriptions and battle scenes were repetitive, but they did a good job of painting the "evilness" of evil.
A very clear gospel message of salvation through Christ alone was often presented and very well done (especially at the end). For this I was very thankful as there will be no one who reads this book and is not faced with a choice of what to do with Christ. I certainly applaud the author for that!
However, this book is in severe need of a proofreader. I'm not sure if it was just the Kindle edition, but there were many (and I mean MANY) grammatical/word usage errors. "Their" when it should have been "there", etc. Many pronoun errors, "His" instead of "he", etc. There were no spelling errors, so at least spell-check was used. But being a word and grammar nut I found these errors distracting and a little frustrating in a book that has such an important message.
But again, I liked the book and would certainly recommend it.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2010
This is one of the best books I have ever read. The Theology is top-notch. A great, highly intense story. I didn't want to put it down and ended up reading it in 2 days.
I highly recommend this book. Get it, you won't be disappointed. Enjoy!
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2010
I have enjoyed Matt's podcast for quiet a long time. So when I got my new Kindle this was my first purchase. What a fantastic book! I am blown away, the book really drew me and held me. I especially like the sound theological teachings what a great way to learn. I encourage every christian to read it and buy copies for their unsaved friends.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2011
I'm very glad I stumbled upon this book. It was biblically sound had an engaging story. Very reminiscent of Frank Peretti's "This Present Darkness" or "Piercing the Darkness" (and this is meant as a compliment for this book).
It peals back the "veil" and sheds light on things going on in the spiritual realm between angels and demons. And unlike other books I've read in this same vein, this book not only gave a really good look at the impact holy angels have on people, but an up close look at how demonic possession can manifest and progress (without dwelling on it too long or turning the book into a horror novel).
I don't want to spoil the book for other readers, but there were a number of poignant moments in this book that really impacted me as a reader (especially one involving the main character at the end of the book). The book really drives home the impact of prayer (though showing the impact it has in the unseen realm, rather than just having a character say that prayer is important - it was more meaningful this way) and definitely made my amp up my efforts in that area (and that can only be a good thing).
Definitely recommend this book to others. Especially at this great price. No regrets at all. I only wish the author would have had other books out that I could have picked up too. Very interested to read more.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2010
This book is absolutely one of the best books I have read in a very long time! Matt Slick has really written well concerning the spiritual warfare with sound biblical teaching. I could not put this book down! I really enjoyed it and I highly recommend reading it!
Hopefully, Matt Slick will write a sequel to this book.