The Final Summit by Andy Andrews

Take two cups of self-rising plot, three tablespoons of characters, and a stick of self-help advice. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Take your The Final Summit from the oven and let cool completely before reading.

The plot is simple enough. The angel Gabriel escorts businessman David Ponder to a sort of celestial board meeting attended by history’s intellectual, courageous, and influential figures. Unless these minds can discover what the human race needs to do to get back on the right track, it’s good-bye so long, sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.

Except that it’s not so much a novel as it is an inspirational or self-help book. The book isn’t really about these historical characters uncovering a great principle that will save the human race, it’s about the principle itself. Sort of like those study novels that are really SAT words wrapped in a plot-and-character tortilla. It’s a great idea, certainly an interesting way of presenting the information, but just be sure you know what to expect. Otherwise you’ll probably feel stymied.

Theologically, the book is a bit strange. All these characters are in a place I assume is heaven (that, or some sort of extra-temporal astral plane), but it doesn’t seem like the heaven Jesus talked about, or the sort of place I’d like to spend eternity. It feels rather dreary, with no hint of the glory of God’s presence. Nobody seems miserable (with the possible exception of Winston Churchill, who seems to enjoy being miserable), but nobody seems particularly happy, either (with the possible exception of Anne Frank). Then too, the book is full of people like Mark Twain, whom it seems oughtn’t be there. The author tries to get around this by saying that many of the characters avoided hell by the skin of their teeth in last-minute decisions, but that feels kind of, I dunno, forced.

Without giving spoilers, the final revelation of what humanity needs to do ‘to restore itself to the pathway toward successful civilization’ doesn’t seem adequate. It seems to be missing its most important component. As a discussion starter, this book has great potential, but I don’t think it provides any ultimate solution to solve the world’s problems. Although, I suppose it shouldn’t have to, since we already know what the solution would be. And that it will never happen before Jesus comes back.

Actually, what I most enjoyed about the book was learning about a man I had never heard of before (again, trying not to give away any spoilers, but if you’re a history buff you really should read this book).

So should you read it? Well, yes, sure, if you have a couple of hours to spare (or if you’re a history buff). It makes for an interesting read and sparks questions that should be asked.

In accordance with Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, I am disclosing that I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My opinions are my own, and I am not required to write a positive review.

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