I received a complimentary copy of Risen by Angela Hunt to review from Bethany House Publishers. This one intrigued me because it is literally "the novelization of the major motion picture," as quoted on the front of the book. I am that annoying person who always asks, "Oh, did you read the book?" when people tell me about movies they liked that were based on books. I have literally never seen the opposite - hey, here's a great movie, we should make it a book!
I haven't seen the movie (because it releases this month), and to be honest, I'm not sure that I will after read this. The concept is fantastic - an eyewitness account of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus by a Roman soldier (who is then charged with conducting the investigation into where the body went). I liked huge chunks of this book, but the ending was so over-the-top "Buddy-J" who just smiles at people and hugs them that I found it to be a huge let-down.
In true Angela Hunt fashion, the story is told from two different perspectives, that of Clavius the Roman soldier, and that of Rachel, a Jewish woman having an affair with him. A little risque for Christian literature, I guess, and it seems like the author didn't know what to do with the relationship at the end. So she did what any author does when tired of a character... I can't even begin to tell you how disappointed I was that she just threw away this opportunity to make sense of the relationship and how Yeshua would have actually responded to it. If you read the book, let me know so I can discuss this less cryptically. And, actually, the author's note at the end of the book mentions that Rachel's character was written out of the screenplay for the sake of time, so perhaps that's why she didn't develop a more meaty conclusion.
I will tell you, though, that Hunt wrote the most phenomenal description of the resurrection from the guard at the tomb's viewpoint. It literally brought tears to my eyes, so if nothing else, read the book for that. Just an excerpt, but there's more.
"The night was gone, and the air smelled burnt, the ropes... they just... exploded... and the stone flew like a leaf, and all at once the earth trembled and then..."
The wide eyes swiveled and focused on me. "The sun rose in the tomb."
I wouldn't say don't read this book, but just don't expect as much from it as other Angela Hunt novels like Esther and Bathsheba.