Book Review: Under-Gods by Azure Boone

The Blurb:

At twenty years old, Levi strikes a deal with God. In exchange for saving his mother’s life, Levi commits to a life of celibacy. Soon, supernatural events land him in Heaven in order to help a beautiful girl journey through Hell. They have two weeks to make it back to Earth to prevent an important and mysterious old man from dying. The demons of the dark realm are no match for the Under-Gods that lead them on their perilous quest until they discover Levi’s secret: he has fallen in love. And that is one broken vow they will use to destroy them both.

Who This Book is For:

Anyone seeking “edgier” fiction that deals with Christian theology. That said, I had some theological/doctrine problems with it that I’ll discuss in a minute.

What I liked:

I liked the characters. I liked the way spiritual warfare was portrayed in the beginning, that the theology was (almost always) backed up with Scripture, and I LOVED the ending. One of my main frustrations with Christian fiction has been when an author sets up the possibility of a miracle, and then decides not to write it in for whatever reason, making the characters fall into the traditional “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away” mentality. Miracles don’t happen just because God wills them – miracles happen when the person completely surrendered to God says “Nothing is going to steal God’s promise to me!” This is one of the FEW (out of the thousands of Christian books out there) that follows through on the hope and fulfillment of a miracle.

What I didn’t like:

This felt like a Final Fantasy/Bible mash-up. And not in a good way. The spiritual warfare that happened while they were in heaven, and traveling back to earth, felt too . . . constructed. And, like I said, up there, it felt like I was watching someone play Final Fantasy. With a magic system.

That’s not what spiritual warfare is like. Spiritual warfare is done on your knees, your weapon is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). Your weapons in spiritual warfare are the words you speak, and if they line up with God’s will (Life and death are in the power of the tongue – Proverbs 18:21).

That said, I felt like there was a lot of Scripture used (and used in appropriate places), but never when it was absolutely needed. It was completely absent while the main characters, Jewel and Levi, battled demons. It felt too much like they were depending on their own powers, when they should have been leaning on God’s power.

In one of the final battle scenes in the book, and Jewel and Levi finally work together to vanquish the enemy, and they cry together “Behold the power of the Lamb!” . . . but it seemed like the Lamb (Jesus) wasn’t even present, and that’s not how it should be in spiritual warfare.

The other major issue I had with the book was also theological. I don’t know if this is how Boone intended for it to come across, but this is how the entire scenario struck me:

The way it was written and characterized, the “spirit” that forms the real man inside each of us (I’ll explain this doctrine in a moment, hang on) seemed to be an individual entity living inside each person, completely separate from them.

The doctrine I was taught (and I know someone somewhere will disagree, but this is what makes sense when I ready through my Bible): Every person consists of three parts – a spirit, a soul, and a body. The soul comprises the mind, will, and emotions. The spirit is the real “us”, the part of us connected with God when we accept Jesus’ sacrifice (Ephesians 2:1-6). This is the part of man that died immediately in the Garden of Eden after the Fall.

Your spirit is not . . . a separate person. It doesn’t act separately from you, because it IS you. It doesn’t separate from your body and take its own actions separate from your soul.  If your spirit separates from your body . . . well, that means you’re physically dead. Your spirit and your soul can’t be separated from each other, either.

While there were some copy-editing errors in the version I read (the one available on Kindle), it was ultimately the doctrinal errors that made me start cringing whenever I was able to pick the book back up.

There were a few other theological issues I had, personally, but they were very minor compared to this one.

So, read it with a grain of salt (or two). The sections containing theology with actual scriptural backing were fine. But there was too much of the above for it to rest easy with me.