Today's book review is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
by C. S. Lewis.
After a long hiatus, I decided to pick up on my project of re-reading the Narnia books. This is the the third in the series, and it has major recurring characters from the first two, although the story is mostly self contained.
This story is a series of adventures, and most of the individual episodes are quite enjoyable. It features one of the best opening lines in literature: "There once was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it." The first half or so of the book shows us how Eustace learns to be a better person, and it's a little heavy-handed with the message, but mostly fun. Even though it makes something that any real fantasy fan would want to see as wonderful as terrible -- I'll comment on that below the cut. Then we have a few more good adventures, with some moral messages thrown in but not really in a bad way. Unfortunately, as far as I'm concerned, I do see the overt Christian propagandizing in the end of the book that I commented on not having really seen in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
, despite some people's railings against it. Aslan does everything but actually outright say that he is Jesus and only by being a good Christian can you go to Aslan's country. And that explicit and specific identification with Christianity retroactively colors Aslan's previous appearances in the story and makes them feel more like proselytism. I know I read this book more than once as a child, and while I remembered some of the adventures pretty well, I didn't remember the Christian message, so maybe it isn't really that overwhelming unless you're reading as an adult and you've been sensitized by hearing criticism. But right now, after finishing it, I'm feeling that it's not really an appropriate book for children. Committing to a particular religion is for consenting adults.
6 out of 10. Liked it more until the end.( plot summary, spoilery commentsCollapse )