Changed is a story about the perils of hell and the possibility of salvation. Author Bill Wesenberg gives the well-worn formula a few new twists, with mixed results.
Chapter 1 opens with the narrator, a nameless first-person “I,” inviting “you” over to spend the day together. The minute you get there, boom! The end of days begins. “You” and “I” (or “I” and “you”—it does get confusing) end up in hell, interviewing lost souls about the sins that landed them there. There’s fire and brimstone and eternal death, (“dying but never dead”). It’s horrible, but as it happens, it was all a dream, which leads to a discussion about how to avoid such a fate in the future.
Did that seem like a giant spoiler? Wesenberg mentions it right on the back cover as well as in a chapter-by-chapter outline in the introduction. It’s a shame, as he’s a skilled writer, but the strength of his story is muted when we already know where it’s going.
The decision to write the book in the present tense and first person is risky; some readers will enjoy stepping directly into the shoes of “you,” but others may find the story hard to follow from that perspective.
Readers comfortable with a fairly angry, fundamentalist view of God will enjoy this book; others may find internal contradictions among some of the ideas presented. Heaven is full of children, all born free from sin, yet the disabled are to blame for their lot in life as repayment for sin, which leaves those born with disabilities where exactly? Those “from the other side of straight,” a.k.a. gay people, will also find a special chunk of brimstone set aside just for them.
Changed presents challenges for readers who don’t already share the author’s highly specific beliefs, but it’s likely to find fans among Christian fundamentalists.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.