Before you open this book, I highly suggest that you and your reader become very familiar with the Biblical narrative of the flood story and life of Noah found in Genesis 6-9. This allows the reader to have a solid foundation for the basis of the story.
Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich is a kids fiction time-travel novel based in a somewhat historical setting. We believe the flood narrative found in Genesis is history and is true. Imagine. . .The Great Flood uses this Genesis narrative loosely as its basis.
Corey Max is playing with his dog and his mom at the park, unhappy about the upcoming move across the country, when he finds himself unexpected and inexplicably transported back to ancient Mesopotamia where he meets Shem, the son of Noah. Corey finds himself in the middle of Noah’s family collecting animals to place on the ark that God told Noah to build in preparation for the coming great flood.
The people in the surrounding countryside do not believe in the coming flood and, for some unexplained reason, feel it necessary to interfere with the collection of animals to load on the ark. From Nephilim who are trying to kill Corey to a sorcerer who can magically transport himself anywhere to a false friend who betrays Corey, there is a lot going on that keeps Corey from helping Noah and his family, including having to fight for his life more than once. Throughout it all, though, Corey finds that many of the truths his mother has taught him are coming to mind and helping him find a strength and courage he never knew he had. Will he survive and be able to return home? Or will he perish in the flood?
There are many truths about God that are focused on in the story and I think this is the best part of this novel. The truths include:
- God never changes.
- God is in control.
- God meets us in hopeless places and can provide a way.
- God can do anything.
- God keeps His promises.
I really appreciated that there were these truths about God that kept popping up, though sometimes it was contrived and did not fit naturally into the story. Most of the time, however, these were a natural flow in the story and fit well into the overall theme of God being in control.
When I read historical fiction, I expect that the details of the historical event will not be altered in any significant way and that I can still find the facts of the event in the story. This is where my concern with this book lies and is the basis for me not recommending this book to young readers, especially if they are not very well versed in the Biblical account of the flood found in Genesis. There are many details in this novel that alter or add plausible details to the account and young readers may not be able to make that distinction. When we have a moldable mind reading these details, it can permanently alter their understanding of the Biblical story and become part of that story in their minds. This is a dangerous slope to find ourselves on and this book places us firmly on that slope.
Some examples of these details that a young mind could see as plausible? In the story on page 17, Shem tells Corey that as long as he is holding the staff, the animals will obey him. As an adult, I can read that and know it is imaginary and false detail for the purpose of the storyline in the book. A child may not be able to make that distinction. Another one is the assumption that the people around called them crazy and did many things to prohibit the building of the ark or the loading of the animals. These details are believable but are not included in the Biblical narrative. These are details that a child could easily believe and add to their mind’s understanding of the story. These are just a couple of example but there are many more that brought concern to my mind.
Our children are exposed so much to magic, especially dark magic and evil arts. I do not see a Christian book series as a place to add these things. There is no reason to add a magician who can magically transport himself from place to place into this story line.
An additional concern I have is that there is no documentation for this story. There is not even a Biblical reference. When I read historical fiction, I expect to find a bibliography for the background research done. There is none with this and that concerns me.
I tend to love historical Christian fiction, especially when it is well done about Biblical narratives. There is much to be gained from being able to understand more about what the every day lives of people in the Bible might have been like. This book falls short for our family. Much of what I wrote in the concerns section were actually brought up by the two older girls. These were original thoughts by the 13 and 11 year old readers and echoed concerns I also had. I did not allow our 8 year old to read this book due to the concerns I had.
I know that there are plenty of folks who will have no problem with this book. And for them, this book will provide a fast paced adventure that is full of one difficulty after another for Corey to overcome.
To read what other Crew families thought of this Biblical fiction for kids, please visit the Homeschool Review Crew by clicking on the banner below.