I read one of the free books I received from the International Christian Retail Show. I didn’t mean to read it yet. I was packing my things from my old apartment to move to my new one, and I had every intention of just reading the first chapter or two to see if I wanted to temporarily store it or bring it to my new place. But this book was so good, and I was so desperate to escape from reality that I read half the book in one night. Escape I did, into an colorful world in an Old Testament-era time period with fictional kingdoms, prophets, and kings.
The book is entitled, Prophet (Books of the Infinite), by R. J. Larson. A young woman of 17 is called by the Infinite to become a Prophet and save the nearby kingdoms from the Infinite’s just wrath. Ela is a likable character with honest feelings that any person could relate to. The Infinite is obviously an allegory to God, but the god of this book is only ever referred to as “Infinite” and “Creator”. I found it interesting that Larson never used “God” or “Lord” within the book. Even though this book is infused with religious-inspired stories and perspectives, it seems to make it more accessible to non-Christians. I read an Amazon review of a self-identifying atheist who said she was shocked by how much she enjoyed the book. Initially I was surprised she valued it so highly, as my new-found love for this book comes from the many spiritual realizations I had while reading it. However, it became clear in retrospection that this is a great book for an open-minded atheist or a struggling Christian.
This book does a wonderful job of portraying a just and merciful God, a concept that many have a difficult time reconciling. What this books reveals is the perfect heart of God — a completely loving, generous Creator who wants nothing more than his creation to repent and return to a relationship with him. But when his creation refuses time and time again in their own pride, He does not hesitate to do what is just and destroys them and their evils ways. It’s clear in the book that he takes no pleasure from it, and his prophet, Ela, has a compassionate heart despite her role as the Infinite’s doomsayer. The thoughtful questions Ela has for her Creator is matched by wise responses that appear to be entirely Scripture inspired. It was a blessing to read responses that made logical sense and fit with God’s character.
Ela is a strong female character, but unlike the modern day version of a “strong” female, Ela is humble, submissive to God, and compassionate. Too often I see female leads attempting to overcompensate for society’s expectations and they end up being horrible role models for young women who desire to seek God. I found Ela’s intelligence, her strength in character, her honest recognition of her weaknesses, and her love for her family and friends very inspiring. Her relationship with her sister, her captors, and her friends will touch you. The book does not shy away from the fact that she is a female Prophet. I am sure there will be good character development in the next two books. I only wish there was more back story about Ela’s past.
Some readers will be displeased with the lack of scenic detail in this book. I do not find those sorts of things distracting because I typically spend all of my time concentrating on dialogue and relationship building between characters. I’d say her style of writing reminds me a bit of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I should mention that if you’re wary of authors inserting words into God’s mouth, then you might have a difficult time warming up to this book. Of course, it’s important to realize that the author never claims her story is a factual depiction of God. It’s really just a story to inspire you to seek God in all you do and listen to His every word. I highly recommend it, especially to young women, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! I look forward to the next books in the series.