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.
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.
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.
on October 1, 2013
I knew nothing about Matthew John Slick prior to beginning his book "The Influence". After reading, it's obvious that Slick is serious about what he believes and that certainly comes through in this book. The book is advertized as a "Supernatural Thriller" - it says so right on the cover....lol. Make no mistake though, this is really Slick's explanation of the gospel. He's tried to cleverly wrap it in the cloak of a novel about angels and demons, but what we really have here is the message of the gospel (thoroughly explained).
This book has its ups and downs, and I think the reader's satisfaction with the work will be largely determined by their expectations going in. Anyone who picks up this book because they are looking for a "supernatural thriller" is going to be disappointed. As a novel, the book is very pedestrian. The characters are not well developed and Slick lacks the deft hand of more accomplished authors. He often tells you what the characters are feeling instead of letting the dialogue convey their emotions and feelings. The story is also very predictable. Any seasoned reader will see everything that's going to happen long before the story actually gets there. Additionally, there is no real concern or fear for the characters. At no point during the story was there ever any doubt that in the end, everything was going to work itself out and we were going to have a happy ending.
Those things aside, the book certainly does have its good points. Slick does an excellent job of repeatedly presenting the gospel. Unlike some other popular Christian novels, this book spells out the way to receive Christ very, very clearly. And while I think that the amount of spiritual warfare that really goes on in this world, and just how much influence those forces can really have on a person, is something that we can only make educated guesses about - the bible is crystal clear on the way to salvation and Slick presents that message equally clearly. His theology on salvation is rock solid. So if you're a reader looking for a better understanding on salvation or if you're someone who has a friend or loved one that is not saved, then this book is probably exactly what you're looking for.
on May 21, 2014
It was a good story. Some parts were a little slow, but it was interesting and disturbing at the same time. The war between the angels and demons seemed actually plausible. What I liked most was that the power of prayer was predominate throughout the book.
on January 1, 2015
Actually the things I really liked about this book, I loved. I loved the main character and angel interaction and so much what was said. What I didn't like, I skipped over. I didn't like how descriptive the author was of the demons or the fighting scenes. I'm a huge fan of Frank Peretti's and this author is very close to Peretti's style, however Peretti get's the point across without being so descriptive. But like I said, what I really liked, I loved.
on August 31, 2014
Skip the last chapter and this might be a five star book. I read it in less than 2 1/2 days. It was almost impossible to put down: exciting, mostly unpredictable, and philosophically challenging. As a fellow believer in Jesus Christ, I loved this book.
on April 5, 2014
An unbelieving couple struggling with the loss of their child, Jacob, finds answers in many surprising encounters. The power of prayer is palpable as the demonic attempts to derail them from a call God has placed on their lives. The angelic attempt to enlighten their understanding.
on May 14, 2014
There was so much emphasis on the demons at the beginning I thought the story would never get started. Once the human characters started to interact with the angels and demons the story was pretty good
on June 25, 2013
Not too bad, if you don't mind reading pages and pages of the author's philosophy. There's a guy named Mark who's obsessed with finding answers to why his infant son died years ago. An angel shows up, and a good portion of the book consists of this angel teaching Mark, who asks all the right questions to provide openings for more philosophizing from the angel. There are graphically-described demons lurking in the background, trying to seduce Mark and others with their nasty ideas while trying to kill them. The story has a few other characters, like Mark's dull wife Kathy, her father, the father's pastor, and a random bad guy, and it does get interesting, even exciting, in places. The whole premise of the book, though, is that Mark is somehow "special" and is going to get used mightily by God - this is never explained, and by the end of the book, we are still wondering what Mark is supposed to do that's got the devil so eager to get rid of him. Still, the book does sort of make you think about what's going on in the spiritual realm when we pray, and anything that makes me want to pray more gets a thumbs up from me.