I received a copy of THE RIVER by Michael Neal from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. I was excited to start reading. Based on the reviews and back cover, I expected a book that would change my life, filled with mystery and courage. By the time I finished, I had mixed feelings. Unlike the reviews, this book didn’t change my life. Yes, it did have powerful messages, but I didn’t look at the world through new eyes.
Gabriel Clarke is raised by his father beside the River. When Gabe is five, his father drowns and Gabe moves to Kansas to live with his mother. He grows up frightened and insecure, until he eventually returns to the River. He faces his fears while coming to terms with his father’s death. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who has had something traumatic happen in his or her life.
A few writing techniques in the book bothered me. The author used simple, almost childlike sentences that made the story awkward to read at times. There were also a lot of exclamation points and passive sentences, not to mention moments of Telling rather than Showing; I’ve learned from numerous writing websites not to use those techniques.
As a final note, the book’s cover is very eye-catching. It holds the old world elegance of a diary. I read THE RIVER at work and left my copy on my desk. Many people came over to ask me about it. Normally, no one questions the books I read.