I liked being able to read this book in bits and chunks over the past few months. Sometimes it helps to chew on things for a bit, and there is a good deal to chew on here. It works well as a resource to take off the shelves every now and then. Kevin DeYoung has a great heart for people and the gospel, and it shows here. His first essay on the secret to reaching the next generation was needed and timely for me. He writes about making sure to grab them with passion, win them with love, hold them with holiness, challenge them with truth, and amaze them with God. It is a good corrective for where much of youth ministry has gone. I also liked Jonathan Leeman’s piece about God. He deals with the Moral Therapeutic Deism that is prevalent. He says, But one thing is certain: every one of us, in our natural state, believes that God is pretty much like us.” He goes on to show how low our view of God can be and what the truth is. He also quotes Brad Pitt to make his point about our view of God, “Movie actor Brad Pitt, explaining why he abandoned Christianity, spoke for many when he said, ‘I didn’t understand this idea of a God who says, ‘You have to acknowledge me. You have to say that I’m the best, and then I’ll give you eternal happiness. If you won’t, then you don’t get it’ It seemed to be about ego. I can’t see God operating from ego, so it made no sense to me.’ Pitt’s operating assumption, as with every fallen human, is that he is “like God.'” Each author provides some resources for further reading after each essay as well. Russell Moore’s essay on the Kingdom, Tim Challies’ essay on Jesus Christ, and Tullian Tchividjian’s essay on worship were my other favorites. Tchividjian quotes G.K. Chesterton to help make his general point about the otherness of worship, “How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it.” May that be our prayer in the presence of a holy God.
I would recommend this book for the reference shelf any believer that wants a quick but not so simple dictionary of the faith.
Be sure to pick this one up for your teenage boy. I think it will keep him hooked and provide some positive themes and lessons that are missing in other popular books.
In one case, the main character does the right thing by standing up for a girl. In the process he is merked. He comments about the experience afterward mentioning the fact that sometimes the right thing doesn’t actually feel too good. It’s the truth. The maxim that tells us to do whatever feels good doesn’t mesh well with reality.
In his attempt to clear his name and find the truth, Sam Hopkins, the main character, lives out an overtly Christian worldview. He is a pastor’s kid that seems sincere about living a meaningful life. There are just dangerous parts to that life. I don’t think my pastor’s kid upbringing compares, but that’s OK.
This Christian parent (and pastor’s kid for that matter) is thankful for Klavan’s worldview that matches with Jesus’ true words of spirit and life.
Divergent Series by Veronica Roth – Better than Hunger Games by far. This young Christian author weaves a great story of the fight for good and the evil that can exist within us all.
Pathfinder Series by Orson Scott Card – His Mormon background adds some much needed morality to the dystopian malaise. A strong and loving marriage is also on display in the book, which is often not a characteristic of a YA book. I just recently finished the second book in the series, Ruins, and though it is a little heady with the philosophy, it still kept me interested and caused me to think.
Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness – A great, innovative concept, but very graphic at times. I see boys enjoying this series more than girls. The final book in the series is one of the best. This series will get your moral imagination working. Also, romance is a part of the story, but it is meaningful and not overdone.
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi – Fast paced story about a boy beating the odds. There is some language and tough situations, but I believe it is shown in a truthful light. He has a new book called “The Drowned Cities.” I’ll hopefully read that and be able to review it soon.
Hunger Games Trilogy – I say this only to be different, but N. D. Wilson has shown that Katniss’ sacrifice is really no sacrifice at all. She goes on to do great evil against her fellow man. See his take at: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2012/05/17/why-hunger-games-is-flawed-to-its-core/
Any crazy romantic paranormal dystopian fluff… I have to say that I haven’t read them, but they don’t look redemptive just by their covers. I know, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. But sometimes, yes, do judge it. I watch many high school students, regardless of their faith, reading books that I wouldn’t want anyone to read no matter their age. It is my hope that parents would be more aware of the content going through the heart of children.