The Facade, by Michael Heiser
Dr. Michael Heiser is an Old Testament scholar who has some…different…ideas. Earlier this year, I read his non-fiction work on the supernatural world, The Unseem Realm. That book challenged me to think about scripture – and reality itself – in new and exciting ways. It tied together passages of the Bible that had confused me for years. In a word, it was revolutionary. So, I was excited to read his novel, The Façade. This was like Left Behind or A New Kind of Christian for Heiser’s theology: a novel that doesn’t just tell a story, but teaches.
As I finished reading last night, I turned the final page with mixed emotions. I wasn’t even completely sure how to put my feelings into words because there’s a lot that I really enjoyed about this book. But, it does have some flaws.
First, the positive. The Facade makes Heiser’s theology come alive. If you enjoyed reading The Unseen Realm or Supernatural – or even if you’ve just spent some time on his website or listening to his podcast – you’ll enjoy seeing the ways he portrays his ideas in a real-world, modern-day setting. He breathes life into foreign ideas like the Watchers and fallen angels. And several chapters review the most basic material from his non-fiction books. Fortunately, the discussion of these ideas takes place in the context of conversations so it never feels like reading a dry, expositional monologue.
Heiser also ties the Biblical narrative – in all of its supernatural glory – into the modern UFO phenomenon. And he does all of this in a way that makes sense. The cover of the book claims, ‘Every official document in The Facade exists…’ And Heiser doesn’t disappoint. He includes quotes about UFOs from astronauts, CIA directors, presidents, scientists and more. Heiser includes probably a dozen or so actual documents that discuss the events at Roswell as well as other UFO incidents. If nothing else, it’s interesting to read the way many in the 50s and 60s talked about UFOs and ETs as already here or very close.
Heiser also ties the UFO idea together with scriptural concepts in such a way that they mesh well. Though that doesn’t mean that only Christians will enjoy what Heiser has done. I believe conspiracy theorists of all stripes will enjoy reading Heiser’s take on Area 51, Mount Weather, HAARP, and more.
With all of that said, Heiser is not a fiction author by trade. And unfortunately, it shows. The dialogue can be wooden. He can be adverb-happy. And there are places that just feel awkward. Thankfully, it seems to get better as the book progresses. And nothing is so bad that it takes you out of the story, I just feel like it could have used a better editor.
Though Heiser’s take on modern conspiracy theories is unique (filled with Biblical content as it is), the book has its share of cliches – characterization cliches, dialogue cliches, setting cliches, etc. Again, it doesn’t break the narrative, it just might leave you rolling your eyes from time to time.
My final issue is with the plot’s pacing. The climax is less than climactic and though it does sort of conclude, it really feels like the first book in a series – which it is, but it shouldn’t feel that way. At the end of this book, very little is tied up. It reminds me of the first Hobbit movie – it all just seems to prepare you for what’s next. And when a book functions that way, I seldom have enough interest to read what comes next.
Is It Worth It?
Fortunately, I really enjoy reading Heiser’s theories so I’ll almost certainly pick up the sequel, The Portent. Even if the writing isn’t all that great and it has its share of cliches, there’s enough here – especially the stuff based on Heiser’s research – that’s worth digging into.
The Facade might not win any literary awards, but it does provide a fun – if cliched – story that just might make you realize there’s more to reality than what you can see.