Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Plot & Storyline Quality (-1 points)
Shawn Smucker’s latest novel delivers the usual dose of insanity that we’ve come to expect from this author. With literally no discernible plot/storyline to follow, partially developed characters, and no creativity/originality, These Nameless Things receives an entirely negative review from us here at BOR. Additionally, it receives the double honor of being the first book on this column to score negative points. Oh, where to start. Before I say anything, let me clarify that we went into this reading experience with an open perspective. Dan and his friends live in a peaceful village in a valley at the foot of “the mountain”. After escaping the mental and physical tortures of said mountain, they came to the valley to forget everything that happened and to try and heal. As members become strong enough, they leave the village and return to normal life. The whole system is pretty perfect if you ask Dan, except the part about people leaving him behind. Dan has been waiting for his brother to come down off the mountain for many years, and is beginning to lose hope that he ever will. When a dear friend decides she is ready to leave the village and a strange woman shows up on Dan’s doorstep at nearly the same moment, Dan is thrown for a loop. The strange woman knows his elusive brother somehow and says she has come to tell him that his brother is alive and needs his help. Dan is reluctant to return to “the mountain” and debates what he should do. (spoiler) After several vague conversations with other members of the community and the strange woman who’s always sleeping in his bed, Dan finally decides to make the journey. Will he survive the perils of “the mountain”!? First of all, the plot and storyline in this novel are very confusing at best. The author starts off the novel with a big information dumps about things we’re supposed to know, then nearly lulls us to sleep with boring conversations. Following this, the reader comes fully awake as bizarre, off-the-wall, and sometimes crude things happen. As the reader struggles to climb the cliffs of insanity that are this story, they are continually pelted with rocks in the form of odd flashbacks that don’t seem to have much to do with the rest of the novel. As they reach the top, they will realize that it’s all about to cumulate in an abrupt ending. Furthermore, the world construction is weak because we aren’t told how either the mountain or the valley came to be, what each represents, or what their connection (or lack of for that matter) is to the real world. How does one travel from this unusual place to other locations? In short, the errors are too many to note, and I have more questions about this story than answers. This being said, Smucker earns zero points here.
Character Development (-1 points)
Unfortunately the character development fares much the same. Dan is an semi-interesting protagonist concept, but its hard to understand who he actually is. The antagonist lacks motive and a clear arc, so she is virtually useless. Additionally, the large cast of minor characters are basically blank faces who say their lines robotically, so there’s nothing good to note there either. Dan’s friends are also a huge error because there is no reason given for why he is friends with them. Anyway, I’ll stop while I’m ahead her because there’s just nothing good to say. The irony is that there is also not an extensive list of errors to point out because there is so little development to work with. For these reasons, Smucker earns zero points here as well.
Creativity & Originality (-3 points)
Finally, the creativity and originality are nonexistent in this novel. There is a huge difference between creativity and madness, which I would explain if we had the space. Additionally, I’m not entirely sure how this is supposed to be a Christian novel as there are no Christian themes or tie-ins. A very great stretch would identify this novel as an allegory on Hebrews 12:18-19, but that’s the best we could come up with for something in a genre called Magical Realism. Also, this is a PSA, please, please, please don’t try to make this into a movie or series…anyone! The last thing we need is more Christian movies that give the genre a bad name. Christian filmmakers, look elsewhere for much better mystical Christian novels to work with, like the The Girl Behind the Red Rope, for example.
Wish List Rating: -5 out of 10 points