Author: James L. Rubart
No. of Pages: 385
First Released: 2010
Synopsis (Courtesy of Joseph-Beth Booksellers): “On a rainy spring day in Seattle, young software tycoon Micah Taylor receives a cryptic, twenty-five-year-old letter from a great uncle he never knew. It claims a home awaits him on the Oregon coast that will turn his world inside out. Suspecting a prank, Micah arrives at Cannon Beach to discover a stunning brand new nine-thousand square foot house. And after meeting Sarah Sabin at a nearby ice cream shop, he has two reasons to visit the beach every weekend. When bizarre things start happening in the rooms of the home, Micah suspects they have some connection to his enigmatic new friend, Rick, the town mechanic. But Rick will only say the house is spiritual. This unnerves Micah because his faith slipped away like the tide years ago, and he wants to keep it that way. But as he slowly discovers, the home isn’t just spiritual, it’s a physical manifestation of his soul, which God uses to heal Micah’s darkest wounds and lead him into an astonishing new destiny.”
Comments and Critique: For me, reading is about learning. It means reading outside of comfort zones to learn more about yourself and other cultures. I consider myself fairly broad in what I like to read. In the last sixteen months of blogging, I have covered everything from children’s literature to business/self-help books. I live my life around the idea that if a book topic interests me, I will read it no matter what genre it is. Even though I pride myself on my well-roundness when it comes to reading, I have failed pretty miserably when it comes to Christian fiction. It is a genre I have read in the past, thanks to the Left Behind series, but one I tend to avoid when given a choice. However, recently I made a concerted effort to consider this genre, following the same rule of whether the basic premise of the novel interests me. This is how I came to request and receive a copy of Rooms.
Rooms is Christian fiction as well as a thriller. The basic premise is intriguing – a mysterious house that constantly changes? I quickly found myself enthralled with the idea of a house that changes as you change, that is so perfect for you it becomes sanctuary in a crazy world. This part of the story kept me turning the pages. It may have been predictable in how it will all end, there were enough twists and turns along the path to the plot’s resolution that the predictability was not a turn-off. The characters were even fairly likable. Who hasn’t been at a crossroads with the need to dig deep and uncover one’s core values? Who doesn’t want peace and love and harmony?
The basic storyline was enjoyable. For me, the rest was not. I am a Christian, born and raised Catholic, and yet, I found the message too strong, the faith too obsessive. It bothers me when someone quotes the Bible as the ultimate instruction manual for life. The pragmatist in me knows that the Bible was written by man and that man is fallible, that before the printing press, it was subject to copying by illiterate copyists who could not distinguish one word from the next. Therefore, the versions that now exist are riddled with mistakes. To base one’s entire life on something filled with errors, that is subject to interpretation and intense debate and full of contradictions is not something about which I feel comfortable. The fact that all of the characters in Rooms starts spouting Scripture as the last word in how to act was disconcerting to me. I could not empathize with the characters. I wanted to be able to put myself into Micah’s shoes, imagine what he was feeling and thinking while living in his special house, what Sarah was thinking when she saw Micah for the first time. While they were enjoyable, I could not empathize with them. Once they started discussing Scripture, they lost me. It is a comfort thing; others may find them more believable.
The lessons mentioned throughout the book I found disconcerting as well. For example, watching certain movies and music is unchristian. So, according to the message I gleaned from the novel, watching horror films or campy, stupid male-bonding films are unchristian and therefore could land me in deep trouble with the Big Guy. Really? Also, one must choose between a secular life and one filled with God’s purpose. You cannot concern yourself with money and its trappings and still be considered Christian. The choice between one or the other is the driving theme behind the entire story, and it is the one which I found the most troubling. Why can’t you live a successful life and still follow God? Is it really as black and white as the book implies? Should it be?
As my first foray into Christian fiction in several years, Rooms was not bad. I found some of the issues objectionable because of my own thoughts on faith; this is a risk that every reader takes when picking up Christian fiction, in my opinion. The story itself was enjoyable, and I find myself still contemplating the messages delivered throughout the novel. While I may not consider this the best book I have read all year, Mr. Rubart did get me thinking about my own faith. In the end, isn’t that what this genre is all about – getting readers to think about their faith, to discuss it openly and honestly? With this in mind, I feel Mr. Rubart created a book that forces the reader to do just that.
This book fits the criteria for the Rainbow Reading Challenge, the 100+ Reading Challenge, and the Read ‘n Review Challenge. Thank you to B&H Publishing for this review copy!