Friday, April 10, 2009

Book Review - The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers

My bookish blogging friends challenged my disdain for Francine Rivers (which I picked up from my fav. college lit professor, who called Rivers Christian crap-o-rama). Maybe I was being too harsh. Maybe there was a depth to Rivers that is often missing in popular Christian fiction.

Well - if Francine Rivers has a greater depth than most, it wasn't evident in "The Last Sin Eater". I didn't like it. I mean, I actually really liked the concept, but about half-way through the novel the concept started unraveling into a simplistic evangelical salvation presentation. See my review of the movie "Fireproof" to read more of my complaints about simplistic presentations of salvation. I don't have a problem with Christian art and literature, but I do have a problem with bad Christian art and literature.

See, the idea of a "sin-eater" is I guess from old Scotland and Whales, where communities would a assign one member the duty of "eating" the sin of community members that passed away. This insured that only one member of the community had to carry the guilt of sin and everyone else would be purified at their death.

Obviously, that is a very, very cool metaphor that parallels with the gospel very clearly. Thing is, while it started as a metaphor set in a superstitious mountain community was turned into a modern gospel pitch, and it just didn't fit culturally so it wasn't believable. It might have worked as a kids story... but I kept thinking, "You can't make the jump from not knowing anything about Christianity to suddenly talking like a 70-year-old pastor! That's cultural lingo - it's not imparted by 'praying the prayer'!".

Anyways - I didn't like The Last Sin Eater.
Rating - 2 out of 5


  1. Yours is the first negative review I've read of this book which I've wondered about for years. Like you I am leary of Christian fiction that's too pat. Now the book is going even farther down the list of TBR books!

  2. I read some other things by Francine RIvers, and I found them "too pat" also. Some people love her work, but I just didn't find it believable or compelling.

  3. francine rivers: ugh. the book kind of sounds like a ripped off version of the giver.

  4. Yeah - I've enjoyed some of her books more than this one, so I totally don't blame people for loving them. I am still wrestling with how much I hear people talk about the depth and value of Rivers.... that's what I'm reevaluating and didn't find here.