I received this book as a gift during the Melbourne Art Festival earlier this year. Though it is less than 100 pages, I just got around to reading it....moreI received this book as a gift during the Melbourne Art Festival earlier this year. Though it is less than 100 pages, I just got around to reading it. After its conclusion, I am happy to report this book was worth it, and I don't mean just because it was free. The Christmas Box is a simple story, with a simple message, but excellent delivery, superb use of vocabulary, and an underlying theme that shows the true nature of who Jesus Christ and God is.
First, this book was free so I can't really say it is worth the price. There are bookstore sites that price it at about $15, even for a paperback. For today's standards, would that be considered expensive? Technically yes. If books by George R.R. Martin are only worth $9.99, and they average at about 900 pages on estimate, The Christmas Box is heavily inflated. In that case, the story has to be worth it somehow right?
This is where it delivers.
For a novel(ella) that is less than 100 pages, there is great detailing and character building. Though it wasn't many pages, the characters were believable, especially Mary, the owner of the house in the book. The conflict is also relatable, even to today's first world problems. The fact that fathers are working more and spending less time with their children is a plague that is rampaging to the extent of epidemic. How many children today are fatherless? How many single parents are there? How many divorces happen just because the family wasn't taken cared of first?
It is amazing this story wrapped up very well in less than 100 pages. Though the plot and conflict is simple, it had the means of becoming something quite detailed, or should I say more detailed than what was in the book. However, it would have lost its relatability and overall demeanor of detailed simplicity. All in all, this book is just right for what it is trying to do. I will state that the lack of a perfect score is because some things are left unexplained, and some people may find annoyance in that. Overall, a great read. If you can get it for free, you might even consider it one of the best books you've ever read especially for Christ Followers.(less)
So far this year, every Christian fiction novel I have read has been excellent. Well-written, interesting, and entertaining, all of them have not disa...moreSo far this year, every Christian fiction novel I have read has been excellent. Well-written, interesting, and entertaining, all of them have not disappointed me whatsoever. This novel by Karen Kingsbury is also another novel that I would say, "restored my faith in humanity". Maybe that is what Jesus Christ does to someone and if He did this through this book, I am thankful He led me to it.
Just a quick note, I have taken the habit of not re-establishing a synopsis, or summarized paragraph of the plot. Goodreads does a fine job with this task, and I am sure people who read my reviews already know the basics of the story. I myself would rather read the quick synopsis on the back of paperbacks or the flaps of hardcovers before purchase, so my assumption is others will too.
First the plot is simple. There really isn't anything extraordinary about it, but it works. I believe that all plots have been taken and told throughout history, but it is how it is told that makes it either forgettable or memorable. Kingsbury makes this story memorable through the simple retelling of time. Utilizing the history of "The Bridge" as it pertains to the story's current plot actually helps and enhances its delivery. It also helps detail the characters that appear in the book too.
Just like most book, this one has side stories to the main story. Unlike my last book I reviewed, which was The Peach Keeper, the side stories work because they are the conclusive result of "The Bridge" itself. A side story isn't thrown in just to "make the book interesting". No. It is added in to "compliment the main story". I like that. Have you ever read a book where the side story was more interesting than the main one? Don't those books just seem unfulfilled?
All in all, I hope I was able to review this book without spoiling any of the story. For a simple quick read that is entertaining and will pull at your heartstrings, this book is it. I would even suggest this for those who like long winding stories, such as the epics that George R.R. Martin or Jacqueline Carey write. For this specific genre, most people won't be disappointed.(less)
If you've read my previous reviews on Sarah Addison Allen, I believe I said that The Sugar Queen was the worst book she has ever written. I want to am...moreIf you've read my previous reviews on Sarah Addison Allen, I believe I said that The Sugar Queen was the worst book she has ever written. I want to amend that statement and say this is the worst book she has ever written. Also, before I continue, let me literate there will be no summary or synopsis of the plot. Goodreads provides a decent one for everyone to read, ergo I shall not duplicate a task already accomplished.
The plot is straight-forward and has potential to be very interesting. Taking into account this is the first book I have read from the author that touches a darker nature, it had many directions to follow. What seems to happen is the direction isn't very entertaining to follow. Instead, there is so much mundane side stories that stray away from the main plot, it becomes tiresome to read. Usually, secondary stories are entertaining on their own and may also be vital for the primary point of the plot. Not in this book. They just seem to be... there. Actually, you can remove all the side story stuff and the book would still be fine on its own.
And that's where the problem comes in.
Unfortunately, Allen doesn't flesh out the primary details of the main plot whatsoever. We do get some basics every now and then but so much seems to be left out or so much is forgotten in simplicity, the finale of the novel is not that satisfying. As a matter of fact, everything else in the book besides the main plot was far more interesting. The dynamic between characters was good enough on their own that removing the main story would actually make this book, well to me, better. The characters are not at all boring, but stuck in a story that borders limbo. It just doesn't know where it is going and at time, I honestly didn't care.
In the end, I finished the book because 1.) it was short and 2.) I was hoping everything would fit in the end. It did to some extent but more so with secondary characters. None of the primary characters seemed to receive the treatment of a satisfying conclusion for their problem and that really makes me upset. Would I suggest this book to anyone? Probably not. As much as I love Allen's writing, this book was really not worth a summer read. In in fact, was more of waste than anything I've read thus far this year.(less)