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Book Review: Left Behind

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Susan Storm View Drop Down
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    Posted: 02 January 2008 at 7:56pm

Recently Finished "Left Behind", by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.  The book is from 1995, so I am a little left behind myself, but I figure better late than never.

This is the first book in a 11-book series (not counting the various spin-offs).  Hugely popular in the evangelical community, the series claims to have sold more than 60,000,000 books worldwide.  I have only read the first in the series, so my review is subject to change as I read more.

It is the fictional story of what happens on Earth after the Rapture.  The book begins with a whole bunch of people (later determined to be the true believers) simply vanishing into thin air.  Chaos and hilarity ensues.  We then proceed on to a seven-year journey of spritual exploration and anti-christ ass-kickery.

The concept/premise, frankly, is brilliant.  The authors do a pretty good job of illustrating some of the bizarre side-effects and personal tragedies that such an event would cause, and the whole thing is generally quite entertaining.  Once we get over the initial shock, the book settles into more standard epic sci-fi mode, with the villain hell-bent on world domination and a small band of heroes embarking on a seemingly impossible quest against insurmountable odds.

And that, ultimately, is what makes this book a winner.  It is basically LOTR based on Revelations.  Very readable and entertaining.  Not nearly as preachy as a lot of religious fiction is.  The bad guy is generally interesting, although the world domination plot is a little implausible.

There are plenty of negatives, though.  The writing is strictly so-so.  Always straddling the line between easy-to-read and cheesy.  It gets annoying from time to time, but is generally harmless.  Then there are the names.  Our heroes are named "Buck" Williams and Ray Steele.  Ray Steele?  Come on.  Seriously.  And the women.  As in, there are none.  There are only two female characters of significance so far.  One is the innocent daughter, and the other is the beautiful tempress.  Classic madonna/whore dichotomy.  Otherwise, it is strictly a man's world.

Then there are the anachronisms.  Granted the book is from 1995, but still.  Our hero Ray Steele has the respect and admiration of all, because he has that most awesomest of all jobs:  747 pilot.  I kid you not.  Then there are the annoying, simplistic, and irrelevant preachy political statements strewn about: "my sister who works in an abortion clinic wants people to stop grieving so they can get back to getting pregnant, so people will have more abortions, so she won't lose her job".  Gah.

Then there is complete focus on a very small slice of the world.  So far, everybody in the book is either a failed Christian, a former Christian, a lost Christian, or - you get the idea.  Except for the occasional Jew, there is no mention of other belief systems.  I would like to hear what the Dalai Lama had to say about the disappearances.  Where is the Imam declaring that Allah has taken his revenge on the infidels?  Let's hear from the hard-core atheists!  In general, this lack of rounded-ness represents a major missed opportunity, IMO.

But despite these significant shortcomings, I liked it.  I liked it well enough to buy two more books in the series, but not well enough to buy the whole enchilada.  It also inspired me to go back and re-read Revelations.

tl;dr = good book, but not a great book.  Easy to read, entertaining, and I generally recommend.

"No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable."
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oreomann33 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote oreomann33 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2008 at 7:59pm
I'll just play the video game.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sinisterNorth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2008 at 9:24pm
I remember everyone reading the Left Behind series throughout middle school and high school. However, I was never interested in reading them.
Pumpker'd; (V.) When a pump player runs up and shoots you at point blank range because you thought 20bps made you good.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dye Playa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2008 at 9:26pm
Originally posted by sinisterNorth sinisterNorth wrote:

I remember everyone reading books throughout middle school and high school. However, I was never interested in reading them.

/edit
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote procarbinefreak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2008 at 11:30pm
Not gonna lie, probably won't read it.


I just got around to picking the god delusion... and sat down to read it yesterday and got through the preface before i put it down.  I need to start taking it to work to read during lunch.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Susan Storm Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 January 2008 at 12:03am
Heh - I am currently reading the Atheist Manifesto.  Interesting comparison to the God Delusion.  Will post review soonish.
"No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gatyr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 January 2008 at 12:09am
I'm mildly interested in reading the series.

I'd expect Allah to poke his head up in the following books, though.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tallen702 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 January 2008 at 12:43am
Screw the rapture, I like my gods a little more eldrich:

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!!!!
<Removed overly wide sig. Tsk, you know better.>
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brian Fellows Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 January 2008 at 10:26am
Originally posted by oreomann33 oreomann33 wrote:

I'll just play the video game.

Not sure why, but I lol'd.
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