Saturday, June 5, 2010

Review: Rooms by James L. Rubart

Rooms by James L. Rubart
Genre: Christian Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 385
Date Published: April 2010
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Back of the book blurb:
It was just a letter. Cryptic, yes. Absurd? Absolutely. But Seattle software tycoon Micah Taylor can't get it out of his mind--this claim that a home was built for him, by a great uncle he never knew, on the Oregon coast. In Cannon Beach. The one place he loves. The one place he never wants to see again.
Micah goes to Cannon Beach intending to sell the house and keep his past buried, but the nine thousand square-foot home instantly feels like it's part of him. Then he meets Sarah Sabin at the local ice cream shop... Maybe Cannon Beach can be a perfect weekend getaway.
But strange things happen in the house. Things Micah can't explain. Things he can barely believe. All the locals will say that the house is "spiritual." Unsettling, since Micah's faith slipped away like the tide years ago. And then he discovers the shocking truth: the home isn't just spiritual, it's a physical manifestation. Of his soul.
Will Micah run--or will he risk everything to see what waits for him deep within the house's ROOMS?
When I first received this book it wasn't screaming at me from the TBR pile to be read. But when I did pick it up, I was surprised to see so many endorsements from successful Christian authors--Robert Liparulo has a cover quote, and inside are quotes from Deborah Raney, Tricia Goyer, Camy Tang and several others that I am familiar with. Some of them compare Rooms with The Screwtape Letters, The Shack, Dinner With a Perfect Stranger, and call it a modern-day Pilgrim's Progress. Let's just say that after browsing through these endorsements my interest was definitely peaked.

How can I explain my feelings about this book? The first thing that comes to mind is thought-provoking. The ideas presented in this book were uncomfortable (in a good way) and unexpected. While Micah debates what he should do with his house, his life, his faith, and his soul, the reader is also pulled into wondering whether the choices they have made have been the right ones and whether God is calling them through this book to put aside their worldly lives to follow Him. He doesn't just want us to check in on weekends--he wants us every day of the year, every moment of our lives.

I read The Shack a couple of years ago and I think this book is a lot less "out there." Rooms doesn't present God in unconventional ways but it does have aspects of the supernatural in it: rooms magically appear in the house that weren't there before, a painting mysteriously becomes more complete as time passes, Micah's life changes without his knowledge, etc. In all honesty, it got a bit confusing for me at times--the creation of an alternative universe and the blending of his original universe with it as he came to the point of having to make a choice (because he can't have both) left me scratching my head more than once. I didn't always understand the changes and why he "remembered" some of them and didn't "remember" others. I had a hard time grasping the whole memory aspect both for Micah and Sarah, but eventually had to reconcile it with the knowledge that with God all things are possible.

If you didn't care for The Shack, you shouldn't let that chase you away from this book. Beyond the supernatural feel, it's not that similar--there is no violent crime here, God isn't portrayed as a woman, there are no deep conversations with God Himself about His nature. Micah does have some deep conversations with a local in Cannon Beach who becomes his close friend and supports him in re-igniting his walk with God. God communicates more through Micah's dreams and through the rooms in his house.

Rooms was an interesting read that challenged me and gave me ideas to mull over in my own life. It's a strong piece of Christian fiction that will stick with you long after you finish it. I'm giving this one 4 stars because it left me confused in some places, but it's probably going to end up on our keeper shelf after hubby reads it.

Here's the trailer:

Further reading:
Reading challenge: Thriller & Suspense Challenge



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