Risen is one of those cases where the novelization of a motion picture raises and elevates the best moments from the movie and makes them "more" in every way. This book is one of the greatest surprises on my shelf!
Epic in scope, yet deeply personal, this novelization offers a unique perspective on the story of the resurrection. Roman Tribune Clavius is assigned by Pilate to keep the radical followers of the recently executed Yeshua from stealing the body and inciting revolution. When the body goes missing despite his precautions, Clavius must hunt it down.
His investigation leads him from the halls of Herod Antipas to the Garden of Gethsemane and brings him in touch with believer and doubter alike. But as the body still remains missing, Clavius commits to a quest for the truth--and answers that will not only shake his life but echo throughout all of history.
I have seen the movie, so going into this book I had the benefit of knowing what to expect at the most basic level. Typically, when you read a movie-related book, it's the book that came first, but as this is a novelization of a film, the book is based on an already written story. Even though a movie as ambitious as Risen (2016) is already full of a lot of storytelling points of its own, the novel still manages to pack in some much-needed surprises, supporting characters, and narrative additions that fill in any gaps that the movie left behind.
The film is largely from the perspective of one character, Clavius, as the viewer stays with him and his narrative throughout its duration. The novel Risen however gives us the addition of Rachel, a complicated female lead who is just as flawed as the hero (who was according to the author's note cut from the film). Both are haunted by their own choices and actions, but it seems that they have to take very different paths in order to find any sort of reconciliation or redemption. Theirs is not a love story for the ages; theirs is a story of two different souls finding love for God.
This positivity I feel towards this book is largely due to the addition of Rachel. I loved the perspective that her character brought to the story and how it switched things up from the movie. I also loved reading about the historical and cultural details through her eyes. Her career as a baker was particularly interesting to read about. Of course, I also enjoyed the character of Clavius and I really liked reading his inner dialogue which gave me a lot more to think about than "broody looks and dramatic music" do when it comes to movies. I guess you could say that this book made the movie's story "meatier."
As Angela Hunt does with all of her books, it was incredibly well researched, and I truly felt like I was transported back in time seeing the ancient world and landscapes as they really were. I would give this book a 3.75-4/5 stars. It was a bit of a slow start for me, but I seriously loved all of the additions to the movie's plot and—dare I say it—I think I enjoyed the book more than the movie!
You can purchase Risen by Angela Hunt at THIS link.
That's all for now, everyone. As always, happy reading! Until next time,