The River

Author: Michael Neale
Genre: General Fiction
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 287

I have to admit, when I first picked up this book I was more than a little skeptical. I've read enough books that were backed by countless rave reviews to know that great reviews don't always mean a great book. Having read dozens of 5-star reviews about how The River changed the reader's life, I was just a bit doubtful.
I was very pleasantly surprised with the book, though, I'm pleased to say. Though I'm not sure I would call it life-changing, it was most definitely meaningful and impacting - and I don't just say that about any old book.
I've recently been reading quite a few books that follow themes similar to The River's - namely, don't live life on the sidelines, get in and embrace it, take risks and follow your destiny. And although that trend has been unintentional on my part, I've been enjoying the ideas it has encouraged me to explore. The River is definitely the best book of that nature that I've read so far. Who knows? Maybe God is trying to tell me something.
My only complaint - and it's so small and trivial that it doesn't really even qualify as a complaint - is that throughout the book, every time anything was said about the river (which was a lot - it's about whitewater rafting), the words 'the river' were capitalized. I get what the author or editor or whoever was trying to do with that, but when you're reading along at a good speed and all of a sudden The River is capitalized in the middle of a sentence it can be jolting. More than once my rhythm got derailed because I saw the capital letters and thought I was starting a new sentence, which didn't make sense with the words themselves. And then it wasn't even done every time the words 'the river' were written. I caught several instances in which they were all lowercase, with no detectable pattern to the difference. That whole issue got on my nerves quite a few times throughout the book.
But other than that tiny annoyance, as I said before this book was great. What makes it even more impressive is that it is apparently the author's first work. As a fellow writer, I take my hat off to Mr. Neale. Well done on an outstanding first novel! The rest of you out there, take note. This is an author to watch.
On the whole, a really enjoyable and thought-provoking read. This one will be staying on my shelves for a good long while, and I'm already thinking about reading it again.

I received a copy of this book free of charge for the publisher in exchange for my review. A favorable review was not required, and my opinions are my own.

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