Takeaway: Biography is not historical fiction.
I am a fan of Dostoevsky. I have read several of his book and want to read more. I have another Dostoevsky biography that I purchased a while ago but I have not gotten around to reading yet. So I was really looking forward to reading this book.
The Christian Encounters Series is intended to be a series of basic Christian biographies that are to be informative, show the person’s Christian background and show how we can be Christians in a number of backgrounds. I like biographies and I tend to read pretty heavy biographies, but I also enjoy simpler biographies. A well done biography does not need to be long, but it does need to have a clear focus.
My problem with this biography was the method. Instead of a traditional biography that was narrated by the author, primarily telling the story, this biography used a semi-fictional method. It had Dostoevsky telling his story to another character. There was lot of dialogue and first person narrative. Some of that narrative was quoting Dostoevsky’s own writing, so was just fictionalizing by putting Dostoevsky’s actual words in another setting. But most of the dialogue is just completely fictionalized. I enjoyed this type of biography when I was in elementary school reading The Childhood of Famous Americans series of children’s biographies. But as an adult, I have moved out of fictionalized biographies.
I pushed myself to read this. Already 10 percent into the book I was seriously annoyed. This felt much more like historical fiction than biography. I kept reading, but did not finish the book. It just was not worth finishing. I glanced around other reviews and many people agreed with me. I am also happy to report that of all of Christian Encounter Series, this was the worst reviewed. So it seems that many other books in the series are better than this one. I may read another book in the series, but I will read several reviews first make sure I am not wasting my time.