Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book Review: "Wisdom Hunter" by Randall Arthur

This rerelease of Randall Arthur's bestselling novel presents the hypocrisy of Christian legalism and a man's search for the only surviving member of his family. The story's hero, Pastor Jason Faircloth, embarks on a journey that lasts eighteen years and takes him through four countries in a quest to find the granddaughter who is being hidden from him. In a process that mirrors our own spiritual journey, he discovers a rich relationship with God and the peace that finally comes with true faith.

Legalism in Christianity has always been such an interesting subject to me. This is just my personal opinion but I just always wonder where these rules came from and who decided that they were right. What's even more interesting is that a lot of times when someone describes Christianity, legalism rules are always brought up as the stereotype of the religion. This book brings up the topic and questions it and shows that it's not always the right way to follow. One topic that came up that I found extremely thought provoking was whether these rules were what God said, or whether this is just one person's personal views and opinions. This book started off extremely interesting. There's suspense and drama but it's balanced very well and the story is page turning. You don't know what's going to happen and, I sound sadistic, but it's quite moving to see Jason going from extreme legalistic pastor to a guy who has no idea what he wants or what to do.

Then about halfway through the book, it just went downhill. Story lines were never answered. Characters did complete 180s. The tone of the book became extremely preachy. First off, Corrina just disappears. There was so much of the book focused on her and the storyline is just dropped. I'm half convinced Jason invented her in his mind. Then that one scene involving the "bath powder" was just really unbelievable naive on Jason's part. The situation with Cody and Renee could have been handled a lot better in my opinion. I know the book takes place in the 70s so the laws that are effective now weren't as strict back then. However, the situations that take place just seem so over the top. It just makes me feel like the author was making it as dramatic as possible just to create effect. As for being preachy, there were parts of the book that felt like a sermon, mostly Jason's journal entries and the scenes with the church in Norway.

One thing that really bugged me was how the character of Yoma was portrayed. He's supposed to be a refugee from Burma who escaped after becoming a Christian and becomes a pastor. That's all fine, but the author has him speaking in third person all the time. This makes him sound like Yoda which is really annoying. He's the only Asian character in the whole book and it feels like a horrible stereotype. I even asked my Dad, who's from Burma, if anyone who immigrated from there spoke that way and he said no.

I just felt like this story could have been so much better. While legalism is a topic that is focused on heavily in the front of the book, it just dies away as the book progresses. There's too much drama that happens, I mean literally everything that could have possibly happen in a soap opera happens in this book. I mean rape, drugs, suicide, alcoholism, incest, you name it's in here. The problem is how it's presented. The target audience is blatantly at Christian readers. To be honest, if I were not a Christian and picked up this book, I would lose interest very quickly. The writing is not really top notch. However the book does present a good argument and I did appreciate the topics that were brought up. If you are interested in reading more about legalism in the Christian church this is a good book to pick up. It just could have been better for me.

Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur is published by Multnomah (2003)

This review copy was provided by the publisher


  1. Yeah this was a DNF for me

  2. Anonymous8:52 PM

    i just learned that the Wisdom Hunter author is releasing a new novel. i saw it on his website, RandallArthur.com. The reviews look impressive. i see he's also releasing a children's book


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