by Angela Elwell Hunt
Confession: I thought the movie was based on the book, but it turns out the book is a novelization of the movie. Since I only discovered this upon picking up The Nativity Story at the library (I'd placed a hold on it), I went ahead and read my first movie novelization.
It was... ok. I haven't seen the movie in a while, but I remember it as being wonderful--the book fell a bit short, though. Although I generally enjoy fictionalizations of biblical stories (i.e. the AD Chronicles by Bodie and Brock Thoene), this book seemed a bit too personal. Somehow it crossed a line where the movie didn't. I think I need to see the movie again.
Mary's character had quite a bit of depth to her, but Joseph's character was disappointingly lacking. The plot also felt a bit rushed on several occasions. However, I can't dismiss this book as an entire failure, as I did enjoy it enough to whisk through it in about three or four days. It makes the well-known story feel more real, and fits it into a cultural context.
One of my favorite chapters, oddly enough, is the epilogue. This two-page summary outlines in plain, easy-to understand language what occurred after Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt, including the division of Herod's kingdom upon his death. On the other hand, feel free to skip the prologue. It's set in present-day and doesn't really fit with the rest of the book.