Novels entertain. Some also inform. A few make you think. I just read one that does all three. THE BOOK OF GABRIEL by Tony Simmons, is subtitled "An Endtimes Fable," or what I would call an apocalyptic. It is a story of God, angels, demons, and the humans caught in between.
It begins with a depressed man named Gabriel sitting on a beach in Florida, waiting for the bottle of pills he swallowed to kill him. From there, it launches into what Simmons describes as "a dangerous road trip through parallel realities, dream worlds, time/space paradoxes, myth and legend."
Don't let the description intimidate you. This is a not a slow-moving, monotone lesson in theology. It's a wild ride through reality on a Harley Davidson, with a surprising amount of humor. The apocalypse may be coming, but there are still times for the reader to smile and chuckle.
GABRIEL contains numerous names and situations drawn from the Bible, particularly the Old Testament. Readers even casually familiar with the Bible will spot most of these. For readers who haven't read the Bible, I would still encourage them to read GABRIEL for two reasons: it's fun, and it puts you in the frame of mind to consider the larger possibilities in life.
Not matter what your beliefs are, or even if you don't have religious beliefs, there are universal themes here such as the power of joy, and the difficulty and necessity of forgiveness. In the character of Gabriel, we have a person overwhelmed by life's troubles who somehow manages to survive and move forward. Despite all the pain and confusion, Gabriel tries to do the right thing, and we can all learn from that.
(Here is a link to the author's page at the lulu bookstore. On a side note, the book contains classic illustrations by Gustave Dore [1832-1883].)