Stories From Hell with the subtitle A Series Of Fictional Interviews Into The Lives Of Those Who Are Lost Forever by Daniel Aleman was offered for free on Amazon for two days. The author sent me an invitation to read and review the book. I read the Amazon website description prior to downloading and was intrigued by the premise. The narrator is transported to Hell to interview five residents as they describe what got them to Hell rather than Heaven. The narrator is accompanied by two entities named Patience and Goodness. They describe the rules to the narrator and are present during the interviews to make sure rules are adhered to. The basic rule is that once the narrator begins, he must hear all five interviewees. The narrator agrees; the game (novel) begins.
There is no game, contest, or conflict. This is a series of confessions by five former earth residents who try to convey reasons for having led a wasted life. There are no surprises. There are no salacious scenes of sinful behavior to entertain voyeuristic perverts. The first man loved money too much. The second man sought truth but whenever he almost approached it, he rejected it; he hated the truth. The third subject was a hard-hearted female. First, her heart was hard toward her parents, later to God. The fourth was confused by religion. He thought he was following all the right paths, but somewhere along the line chose wrong ones. The last was a pastor. He had made a mistake in thinking that the religious practices people follow define God which led to different groups thinking they had found the true way and thus led them to abandon a search for the Real God.
There are no spoilers; there are no surprises. The description I read led me to believe a different type of novel. Up to this point, I had no problems with the work. The narrator was the same as a TV journalist acting as a reporter. Here is what happened, here are the details, just listen (read). If you are not excited, fine.
Then came Chapter Seven. Aleman asked the reader to take the place of the interviewer and asks the reader a question. To help the reader answer the question we have Chapter Eight divided into nine parts which are definitional. Aleman tells the reader this:
“We will discuss who God is, what sin is, the problem of man, The life of Jesus, The death of Jesus, The resurrection of Jesus, the proper response to the Gospel, a brief overview of justification, and a brief overview of regeneration.” (loc 454-455)
Now I am not happy. First, who is this person that presumes the right to define religious terminology for me? There are warnings on cigarette packages and alcohol containers. There are warnings of graphic violence and offensive images. My 16-and-under-year-old-children should go to bed before 10:00 PM so as not to be offended by adult material. I must be sensitive to other cultures and not profess my love of Tacos because then I am guilty of cultural appropriation. I have been warned. There should have been a warning tag on this book.
This discussion of ways to avoid going to Hell is specific to the Christian religion. For those not of the Christian religion, sorry. I guess you don’t get to play. And you probably won’t be interested in this book.
But there are those, and many of them are my friends, who will find an amount of comfort in the reaffirmation of faith they already have. They will be able to look at Chapter Eight and see if what they believe in is stated in a new way.
The book should be submitted or re-submitted to a proofreader. There are not major glitches but there are some annoying ones, such as non-capitalization of the names of some characters and confusion in vocabulary choice (affect vs. effect).
I don’t like being preached at. That affects a “star” rating that I assign.