Imagine waking up in a place that could be the house of your dream, except it's completely empty, you're completely naked, and you don't quite remember who you are. That is what happens to the protagonist of Robby Charter's ALLEGORY.
He's in the body of a 13-year old, even though he seems to know adult things. And he's very, very confused. The world outside is a clutter of houses as far as the eye can see, separated haphazardly by mud. In this mud, the children of the strange world dig for nourishment: worms, mostly. Everyone is weak and starved, dirty and distrustful. Well, almost everybody that is.
Turns out if you pray and share what little you have with others, you will get more: a peach, perhaps, or running water. But it's hard to feel a sense of grace in such a desperate place... Then there's the jolt, that moment when your childhood innocence leaves to be replaced by a soul-twisting cynicism.
Though it is not obvious at first, ALLEGORY is a nondenominational (perhaps anti-denominational) Christian novel teaching acceptance, forgiveness, and that the road to heaven is not as easy as it might seem - but infinitely more rewarding. Doubtless the fact that this is Christian will turn it off from some people, and the particular theological stances Charters takes might rub the wrong way on some Christians, but that doesn't change it from being a quick, thought-provoking read.
There are some strange aspects to this book: everyone is naked at first, though platonically so. Yes, the N-word is used, but not gratuitously. The most disturbing thing to me was a line about 3/4 of the way the book explaining the actions of a pedophile: "He has a deep love for children, but during his life on Earth, he let it express itself in the wrong way." While it is true that many pedophiles are nonviolent, I cannot find it in me to believe that what they do has anything to do with love. Despite this (and that did leave a bad taste lingering in my mouth for quite a while), the book is fast-paced, interesting, and has a good message.
As can be expected of a self-published book, there are a few typos and grammatical issues (for instance Charter tends to use exclamation marks instead of question marks), but this does not detract too much from the book. His writing style is short (his paragraphs are typically one or two sentences long) and occasionally choppy, and every once in a while the dialogue comes out a bit stilted, but altogether he has created an interesting novel that is worth mulling over. It made me feel like working harder to be a better person. That alone is worth the price (!), and your time.