The Third Day by Mark Graham
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Unfortunately, this is another book I finished for two reasons only: a) I always finish a book. b) I felt a moral obligation to do so.
The problem with “The Third Day” is that it tries to do/show a lot of things in parallel and doesn’t succeed in any. Take two people dissatisfied with their lives; a depressed agnostic widow and a faithful scholar. Their lives basically change over night due to a spectacular discovery; building the story up from this, describing the protagonists before their, let’s say, departure, is where the author succeeds – it’s believable and interesting.
*** WARNING *** Spoilers ahead *** WARNING
From that point on, though, things spiral down: The widow and the scholar basically exchange their roles and beliefs; while the former turns into a fervent believer, the latter becomes a fanatic closet-opponent. Even if we simply accept this process (which at least in the scholar’s case is not really believable at all), the means this is achieved by are ridiculously annoying – enter a time traveller. A well-known antagonist, disguised as a time-travelling scientist, tempts both our “heroes” and succeeds in one case and partly in the other.
While I do understand the author’s motivation and the idea, the implementation is tiresome and doesn’t really fit with the characters as sketched out up to the respective point in the story.
No important spoilers from this point on ***
Most of the remainder of the book is basically a rather naive re-narration of the New Testament (NT) – with a strong artistic licence in some parts. This is what annoyed me the most – I’ve read the Bible, thank you very much, and I really don’t need to re-read the NT in the words of some novelist and with a strong focus on the more “spectacular” parts, skipping the more seemingly “boring” but important parts – and, in the process, spending a lot of time telling the reader where Jesus and his disciples are going.
If you want to write some kind of religious novel, please have the decency to choose religiously important parts and expand on those.
If you just want to write an interesting historical novel, please don’t mostly re-narrate but boldly take more liberties and write what *you* think is important.
If you, dear reader, want to read a very interesting albeit controversial religious novel, give “The Shack” by William P. Young a try. Much more ambitious than this one – but Young actually pulls it off while Graham bit off way too much.
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