Click the picture to purchase a copy of the book if you’d like. I would really appreciate it if a few of my readers helped a new and rather talented author.
Caleb Brabham, a former classmate who provided me with an advance copy of his book The Apocalypse of Bob and asked me for an honest review might not have known, what he was getting himself into. But, let’s get down to business.
This book is downright funny. Picture The Office, now collide it with a cult based on the journal of a Michael Scott or Dwight Shroot type character, and you have your bearings for the content of this book. The Apocalypse of Bob made me laugh out loud at times, and while it gets off to a slow, murky, and mysterious start, it never stopped being fun. I think Brabham has done some really good work here. The book is always full of Good Times. The book is funny, edgy and dark at times, but always maintains a sort of comedic relief even during intense moments. It’s a bit short for older readers who would perhaps like to see some elaboration on some of the avenues of theology that the book touches on but it will suit readers 12-20 really well. I’m considering using it for a small group.
I also picked up hints of William Young’s book The Shack in this, but more related to natural disaster, the end of the world and God’s place in major disasters, a fitting and timely book given the earthquakes in Haiti this year, and the recent tsunami in outlying Asian countries.
The end of One Person’s shopping mall is an interesting opening idea, but as we meet the main character Sellia, we meet a surly yet beautiful spoiled and self-absorbed narcissist caught in a sludge filled end of the world in a sinking city. But what’s most important to Sellia, is the end of her shopping mall. I think watching Sellia’s response to the end of the world is a healthy reminder of what not to do in case of the end of the world but interesting nonetheless.
I think the strengths of the book are many, but the top three are:
1. Brabham is not afraid to play with traditional ideas and reinterpret them. Sticking to the traditional ideas and doctrines behind certain interpretations, he creates a contemporary picture of Satan, Jesus and the world in such a way that we can relate. I think this is most fleshed out in His idea of the adversary, in the book he is called The Fish Eater. Playing on the traditional figure of Satan a lot more than William Young did, Brabham’s Satan is an accurate interpretation of the general Protestant tradition on Satan. What I found most interesting was the way that Satan is dressed in the robes of the nations, whether intentional or not, I saw this as a reminder to Christians that national powers are usually on the wrong team.
2. The Apocalypse of Bob flirts with Hermeneutical Problems openly. For those of you who don’t know what hermeneutics means, it’s a fancy word for interpretation. The book clearly pokes fun at interpretations of various sorts, and over-spiritualizing any text. It implies this through the figure of Bobert the chief scribe of the Bobbers, those who are followers of Bob. Reading the random journal entries we’re given a glimpse into a life so average, so ordinary it makes you laugh.
However, it also helped me remember the way that we sometimes read the Bible. I took the problem of Bobert to be this: we often get caught up in making things look better than they are, because to us, the journal is clearly a journal. However, I tried to get inside the mind of Bobert at times, and take seriously the interpretations he was presenting of the Journal of Bob. I really enjoyed the journal entries.
It was as though the movie office space had collided with the diary of a wimpy kid, only that the time was at the end of the world.
3. Left Behind? Not Quite.
I think one of the most interesting things about the book was its lack of great tribulation, and an official position on the end of the world, although some might disagree with my reading. I think Brabham presents the most important aspect of Christian eschatology which isn’t rapture, the end of the world, or a great fiery judgment as much as it is about redemption, New Creation, and Life.
The Apocalypse of Bob is wonderful in that respect. Life after new creation isn’t disembodied cloud sitting, there’s a life after the life after death. Bob dies and is in heaven, but at the end of the book, life after life after death is what’s truly important. What matters about the end times is not the fiery death, or suffering, as much as the Christian idea of hope. And for that, it’s hats off to Brabham.
The book’s one weakness is, to me at least, the lack of more chapters. I feel like it was just a bit too short, and that there was room to create not just a short but meaningful story, but a true world that could draw the reader in. The world was there, but it was more of a backdrop to everything else, which I suppose is important in a character based story.
Here are my concluding thoughts.
I’ll give the book an 8.2 out of 10. It’s not perfect, but it’s not average. It earned my respect, entertained me along the way, and asked me to think about God, faith, the bible and Jesus along the way. I really enjoyed the book, and far from a waste of time, it was truly a pleasure. I’m going to recommend all the youth I teach read the book because it raises very important questions and is an entertaining read either alone for pleasure, or as an educational tool for youth groups.
It was a pleasure to read, and a pleasure to review. I thank Caleb T. Brabham for providing me with a copy to review for your reading pleasure, and ask you to read the book.
The book will not hit major stores until May, but until then you can purchase a copy at The Apocalypse of Bob Website Where I’m sure Caleb will take care of you. It was a really great book, with enjoyable characters and a talent that’s sure to develop. I can’t wait to see what’s coming down the line.