Where does one begin when writing a review of a book about the horrific nature of Hell? I can’t lie, I chuckled to myself as I wrote this first sentence making a joke about how to start a book review as I’m writing a review (that probably reveals more about my character then I’d like it to). I must admit though that the levity that joke gave me quickly subsided as I thought about what to write next. The truth is, the best place to begin any review is with honesty, so here goes:
Honestly, this is a terrible book.
Don’t leave yet. By “terrible” I do not mean that it isn’t well written, it is. I do not mean that it not worth the amount of money it takes to buy it, it is. By “terrible” I simply mean that this is a book about Hell, but unlike any other book on Hell you’ve read about. This is not a book about “Does Hell exist?” No, in I Died Last Night Hell isn’t just understood to exist, it’s an unavoidable reality. The book’s introduction informs us that “Although this is a fictional account, it is based upon scriptural inferences of the eternal punishment for the wicked.” (I can’t help but feel like this book should’ve been given the same “Do NOT read this book” warning that Lemony Snicket gave readers of his A Series of Unfortunate Events series). Just a few paragraphs later, the story begins and we are jerked into a first person view of Torment.
The book itself isn’t much longer than this review, finishing out at 66 pages. I received it the other day and read it in a little under a couple of hours. Don’t let the size fool you though. Each page of this book is filled with dismal depictions of eternal condemnation. Every description brought with it a sense of real pain. Each chapter went by fairly quickly, each one ramping up the physical and emotional distress of the main character. I found myself asking the question “Is Hell really this bad?” over and over again, only to face the distressing answer that Hell isn’t like this at all…it’s much, much worse.
I finished the book saddened for souls gone by who have left the earth and are now experiencing such eternal pain. It wasn’t too long afterward that guilt began to set in. I felt guilty about the souls I had ignored, and the opportunities I had overlooked. I questioned my teaching and my preaching and wondered if I had done the best job that I could to present God’s word so that this nightmarish place of torment didn’t have to be a reality for those I come into contact with. I felt terrible, and you will too, but you should buy this book anyway.
Hell is not a preacher’s favorite subject to preach on. For a long time we’ve neglected talking about “the other place” that people go when they die. This book shines a light on the terrible reality of Hell and yearns for the reader to come to Christ and encourage others to do the same. You won’t enjoy your reading of this book, but that doesn’t change the fact that books like this are necessary. We need to be reminded of the horrors of Hell. We need to be reminded of the urgency of the message we Christians carry. I Died Last Night accomplishes that goal. This book may be terrible, but Hell is more so, and I’m glad I read this book so I could be reminded of how urgently I need to spread the gospel to keep people from going there.
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This is a fictional story of a leader in a conservative church as he takes his journey into eternity. Bible teaching, writings from early Christians and true events form the foundation of this story. But this book is more about your affection than your direction, because what you think will determine your journey in the afterlife.