I recently answered an open call to review the new novel by Christian author Bridgett Henson, Whatever He Wants. It is a work of Pentecostal fiction. Not having grown up in a Pentecostal church tradition myself, I wasn’t quite sure of the differences between this type of novel and mainstream Christian novels. Bridgett gives a detailed explanation of the genre on her website. My recent interview with her, in which she discusses Whatever He Wants, can be viewed here.
This, as I said, was a new one for me. I’ve never read Pentecostal fiction before, and I’m glad I got the introduction to it. I do believe in the Holy Ghost (although my church tradition calls it the Holy Spirit), and I do believe that God gifts us all with certain spiritual gifts (speaking in tongues is not one of mine, although I appear to finally be evidencing the gift of prophecy, so who knows? Tongues might come next).
I loved the main characters, James and Joni. They were both so real. And I loved that both their names start with the letter “J’, although I did think it was kind of strange that neither one of them mentioned that “coincidence”. It’s something I would’ve commented on if I had started dating someone with the same first initial as mine.
It was a good story, in the sense of two people finding themselves (and God) as they find each other. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. We don’t often “find God”. God finds us, and He accepts us into His family the moment we receive the gift of eternal life and salvation He has given us through His son, Jesus Christ. Still, the character development was great. I believe it’s one of Bridgett’s strongest suits.
I also think she did a great job with the plot development. The characters all faced their own external and internal conflicts, which all propelled them to make the choices they did, driving the story to its natural conclusion. I didn’t see any flaws in this aspect of the writing at all.
What I did see as a problem, however, was the copy editing. There were many instances of misspellings, incorrect grammar usage, and other problems that would have been caught by any decent proofreader/copy editor. I know I caught them as I was going along reading the novel…and I did find the errors distracting because I wanted to fix them! 🙂
Bridgett tells me that the book is going through a second round of editing, and all these issues are being corrected, as I write this review, so hopefully anyone who reads the second edition won’t see the same things I did.
I also felt that the novel itself was just a bit too long. There were some scenes that didn’t feel (to me) absolutely critical to the story line. At almost 100,000 words, this is a very long book, and I just didn’t think that it needed to be that long. I remember reading in Stephen King’s book On Writing, years ago, that he lives (and writes) by the motto, “Omit needless words” (which he learned from Strunk and White’s Elements of Style). This usually translates to the first draft minus 10%.
I wholeheartedly agree with this motto. I prefer my books short and sweet…but, as I said, that’s all a matter of personal preference. And I’m not sure. Maybe Bridgett did cut her first draft down by 10%. Maybe her first draft was just really that long. But, again, the word count wasn’t really as much of a turn-off for me as the scenes that seemed to needlessly drag on. Still, these scenes were few and far between. Overall, the book was quite well-written.
Do I recommend this book? Yes, I do. The characters are likable and fun…and the story is a good one. It’s well worth your while to read it, keeping in mind that there is no “perfect book” out there. Give it a chance. You’ll be glad you did. I know I was!