I didn't want to like it. I opened it up ready to critique it. In fact its exactly the kind of book I take some odd pride in not liking.
As far as I can tell, Christian fantasy novels fall into two categories: Great (the Chronicles of Narnia) and Awful (just about everything else).
The Shack is no Chronicles of Narnia. It's a bit too obvious, too overstated, too cheesy, and too theologically laborious for that (there are paragraphs that could be straight out of theological textbooks).
But it's not awful. Not at all. The story is gripping and it teaches smartly about complex topics like the Trinity, the nature of evil, free will, and the love at the heart of God.
I've just finished rereading it to prepared for Saturday's discussion and I remember clearly what I liked about it the first time: It makes me feel loved.
Come to our discussion on Saturday after the 5:00 service. We'll eat a good meal prepared by the women's book group and talk about The Shack till about 8.
If you want to explore its themes further, I recommend a new book called Finding God in The Shack. It's a defense of The Shack from evangelical theologian Randal Rauser. I've only read a third of it so far (the whole thing is available online), but I look forward to reading the rest. I've been looking for a Lutheran take on it, but can't find one. Pass one along if you have one.
And please, let me know what you thought of The Shack.