Prepare to be very scared. !! The book “Heaven and Hell” by Author Kenneth Zeigler is an incredibly unique book in that it is clearly marked as a work of fiction, and to a fault, it is fiction. Yet this author is such an incredible storyteller that by the end of the novel you WANT this to be a non-fiction story for the characters, yet you truly hope with all your soul that nothing in this book is real. Let me explain.
“Heaven and Hell” is at its core a dual love story. The first love story is the obvious love story of the books main couple Chris and Serena Davis. Without giving anything away, Chris and Serena die and one goes to Heaven and the other end up in hell. You can obviously gather this from the books title. This is a love story that to me is right up there with Jack and Rose from Titanic. They must battle to be together and it is a battle that has you rooting for them the entire book.
The second love story is the inferred story of man’s love for God. More yet, it is a very clear story of the NEED for man’s love for God, OR ELSE!!!!
Author Ziegler does one thing exceptionally well here but I have to put a caveat on it. The caveat is this, while this book makes it clear it is a work of fiction, many times the author chooses to quote Scriptures in the book. He will then follow those up with entirely wrong interpretations of the Scriptures because again, this is a fictional book, and these are HIS interpretations and wants as to what Heaven and Hell will be like. Therefore, as you read, you will find yourself saying out load, “Oh no that is not what the Bible means by that particular Scripture,” but you have to remember that what you are reading is fiction, so we have to put that aside and enjoy this work for what it is.
Given that, let me tell you that Author Zeigler does an amazingly great job of scaring the reader to death with his interpretation of what Heaven and Hell might be like. Let me say this right away, I was never interested in getting anywhere near Hell, but after reading this book, I have found myself hyper aware that if Hell is anything like this at all, then I will spend the rest of my days doing whatever I need to do in order to stay out of Hell.
I do not want to give anything away because this book must be read to be experienced, but let me share one example of the masterful storytelling that will hook you on this book.
One of the characters ends up in Hell and is given an opportunity to wander around a bit before they meet their ultimate fate. In doing so, they find so many different versions of people being eternally punished that it actually turned my stomach. As I was reading, I found myself saying, “I simply need for this to end soon because I am horrified and tense and this is sickening to think that this is happening to a person.” For example, one torture finds people draped over a black stone table where they are tied down to the table with shackles that have nails on the inside of them to ensure that if you move slightly you will get the nails driven into your skin dealing you intense pain. Next there are these massive black birds flying overhead and at any moment they swoop down and begin to eat you alive. They do not stop until the vast majority of you has been eaten, yet of course you are alive and feeling every last painful moment of that. When the birds are done, your body regenerates over about a 2 hour period and that is incredibly painful as well. Then the birds start the process over again – forever! This goes on forever to you in Hell!
Each person ends up with their own personal torture given to them in Hell based upon how they lived their lives, and each on is simply worse than the next. It is simply terrifying to read about these things, but being a Christian and a Pastor, this makes perfect sense to me.
I actually cried several times as I read this book because of the thought that something like this is more than likely happening right now to people who have chosen not to accept Christ as their personal savior.
Thankfully, about half way through the book, it shifts to the other person who is in Heaven. It is here that Christians might find themselves upset because many of the things we are told about in the Bible about Heaven get contradicted by the author. His version of Heaven has had a lot of liberties takes with it, so please remember that this version of Heaven is the authors interpretation in a fiction book. It certainly goes against Revelation in many ways, but I promise you if you stick with it, you will find yourself caught up in this eternal love story.
The book itself is a little old but if you like it, there are quite a few books in the series and I can tell you I am already into book number three and it is just as good as this book so you have a lot of reading ahead of you if you so choose.
In short, for me, this is a cannot miss read because if you are not at this moment afraid of hell, after reading this book, you will be, and thats a great thing.
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Thanks for hanging out with me for this review and please feel free to talk about the book in the comments below. Thanks so much for your time! Enjoy the book!
Pastor Brad Komgenick