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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely a real pager turner, even for the non-Christian
Left Behind and the 11 sequels are really just one long novel. It is possible, though not satisfying to read only the first one. I really enjoyed the first novel, Left Behind (well enough to read the next 11), although I actually stopped reading it for a while because the focus on the disbelievers was maddening. Millions of people all over the world disappear at once...
Published on July 18 2004 by Adam Missner

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No stupid puns on the title in this review. I promise!
Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Left Behind (Tyndale, 1995)
So I figured after nine years, it was time for me to get around to reading the first book in the bestselling Christian fiction series in history, Left Behind. I had always avoided it, not because of the subject matter, but by and large books that break records tend to be writ large by those with the wit,...
Published on June 7 2004 by Robert Beveridge


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No stupid puns on the title in this review. I promise!, June 7 2004
This review is from: Left Behind: A Novel of the Earths Last Days (Paperback)
Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Left Behind (Tyndale, 1995)
So I figured after nine years, it was time for me to get around to reading the first book in the bestselling Christian fiction series in history, Left Behind. I had always avoided it, not because of the subject matter, but by and large books that break records tend to be writ large by those with the wit, talent, and grammatical skill of overly enthusiastic six-year-olds. Dame Barbara Cartland, Danielle Steel, Tom Clancy, John Grisham, Sandra Brown, you get the idea. Why should Christian fiction be any different?, I wondered. But despite all that, I dove into it.
Expecting the worst may not have been enough. To call the book naïve would be, perhaps, too kind. It uses the conventions of satire without being in any way satiric, treats its readership like total idiots, has all the spelling and grammar mistakes one could possibly want from a mass-produced piece of claptrap, and various other things, all of which I will attempt to make sound as tactful as possible below. But the bottom line, for those who would rather stop reading now, is this: plot's not bad, but execution is some of the worst I have seen outside self-publishing. Ever.
Without getting into the theological aspects of the book, it is impossible to write a comprehensive review of Left Behind without at least glossing over some of the more interesting (and less Biblical) assertions made by the authors, the most notable being the Rapturing (for lack of a better term) of everyone under the age of puberty. Hmmmmm. Including the ones in juvenile detention for murder? Okay, we'll drop the point. After all, our society is based (wrongly) on the idea that people can't make up their minds until they reach the magic age of eighteen. At least LaHaye and Jenkins dropped the magic age to twelve, for which they must get grudging respect.
But little niggling theological concerns are perhaps less galling than LaHaye and Jenkins' complete and utter inability to ascribe a mote of intelligence to any of their characters, and by inference any of their audience. Not being a Christian and a regular attendee at church, I can't say for certain what the average joe learns about the end times. But even without regular church attendance for the last number of years, I remember enough of the Revelation of St. John from Bible study back in the day to have seen all the major twists coming at least a hundred pages before they actually do. And yet his characters, including the wife and daughter of a fundamentalist, are completely oblivious. Writing a book like this as a mystery/thriller, it seems, was not the way to go. Or if it were, perhaps adding a couple of extras who might have looked like they, too, could be the Antichrist might have helped with the suspense angle. (They do attempt a move exactly like this, but way too late and way too ineffectively.)
I spent at least a hundred fifty pages of this book wondering, "where's the satire?" It was, of course, absent; LaHaye and Jenkins are deadly serious about approaching this series as novels mirroring the born-again Christian take on the end times. And yet despite their seriousness, they embrace the conventions of satire with open arms. Their businesses are thinly-disguised actual corporations with names that, in other circumstances, might be considered clever digs at those companies; their characters' names are ludicrous without being prophetic, a favorite mechanism of Dickens and Pynchon; the characters are often overwrought (and, really, it takes a good deal of mastery of the dime novel to make characters overact ON PAPER!); the aforementioned predictability in the mystery; you name it. It's all got the surface makings of great satire. Which makes me wonder how cool it would actually be if, after the series is finished, LaHaye and Jenkins called a press conference and yelled "April fools!" But I don't see that happening, and neither do you.
Fully addressing the spelling and grammatical horrors in this book would take a book-length review, so we'll just note their existence, sneer at them, and move on to the stilted dialogue, the characters (who are cardboard cutouts of the thinnest stripe) and their inability to relate to one another (aside from, one assumes, snickering at the silliness of each others' names in the background), the constant use of cliché, the stopping of the plot every once in a while to throw in some gratuitous moralization (but this being right-wing Christian fiction, I expected a three-hundred-page altar call; I was not disappointed), and all the other little pieces of amateurism that add up to this book being of such horrible architecture that its popularity is really worth weeping over for the lover of the English language. It is obvious, here more than anywhere, that people are more than willing to overlook fatal flaws in the language as long as they can understand the book's message. St. McLuhan has lost the battle once and for all, and sixty-two million copies of the Left Behind novels speak with the public's booming voice: the message is the medium.
It's enough to make a body want to give up reading. * 
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Left Behind in the Ratings, June 22 2004
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This review is from: Left Behind: A Novel of the Earths Last Days (Paperback)
I read this book quite some time ago, and managed to struggle through the second and part of the third in the series. I find it incredibly preachy and poorly written. The plot was sketchy, the characters were weak (especially the women, who seemed incapable of anything but emotional displays and never were adequately developed as characters).
Additionally I have a problem with many of the rather doomsday, narrow interpretations of Biblical eschatology that seem to be circulating among the evangelical community these days. I find these views exceedingly narrow and sometimes disturbing: how about trying to solve some of our problems here on earth? At its best, the church (even today) has promoted charitable efforts and positive societal change (witness the Quaker and Abolitionist stances on slavery, for instance). A Rome-based charitable organization has successfully brokered peace deals in Mozambique and Guatemala. To me, anyway, these people are fulfilling the true and noble calling of faith to help others. By contrast, I find the trends in eschatology and prophetic interpretation alternately absurd, scarist, conspiratorial, and disturbing.
My conclusion: save your money. At the risk of over-generalizing allow me to say that the entire genre of Eschatological literature is useless.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely a real pager turner, even for the non-Christian, July 18 2004
By 
Adam Missner (Roswell, GA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Left Behind: A Novel of the Earths Last Days (Paperback)
Left Behind and the 11 sequels are really just one long novel. It is possible, though not satisfying to read only the first one. I really enjoyed the first novel, Left Behind (well enough to read the next 11), although I actually stopped reading it for a while because the focus on the disbelievers was maddening. Millions of people all over the world disappear at once (coicidentally the die-hard Christians), and there is some question about what has happened? I suppose LeHaye and Jenkins were trying to convey just how ridiculous the non-Christians must seem to the Christians, but it was a bit overboard and actually a little boring. Anyway, our heroes finally accept Christ and the rest of the novels were action packed page turners. Of course, the Antichrist takes over rule of the world using the UN and the promise of world peace. I actually laughed out loud when the Antichrist was promising peace and extolling the exact sentiments you hear in the average Hillary Clinton speech (coincidence?). The novels read just an epic disaster novel and were just as fun. I would warn people who are anti-religion that the preaching is a little thick, but I enjoyed it and it was necessary to set the proper tone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Yawn., June 20 2004
By 
This review is from: Left Behind: A Novel of the Earths Last Days (Paperback)
Is it fair to review a book I didn't finish reading? Sure, in hopes of saving someone else the money of buying it. Why didn't I finish reading it? Perhaps it was the:
1. Horrid logic. At the beginning, we learn that two events have already happened. A scientist has invented a chemical fertilizer for making the deserts bloom in Israel, which solves all of Israel's problems --even though Israel's problems are not generally considered to be agricultural in nature. And a nuclear attack on Israel by Russia is thwarted when the bombs explode over Israel without hitting the ground-- hardly much use when you consider the radiation that such bombs would have released.
2. Bad writing. If I ever hire a ghost writer, I'm gonna pick a guy who can write.
3. Stupid characters. By the time I threw the book across the room in disgust (around page 39), roughly 40 had been introduced, if you don't count the women. And you can't count the women, because all they do is act stupid and clingy and hang around waiting for the men to protect them, which the men do with the same consideration and kindness one might exhibit toward a wounded and exceptionally stupid sheep.
But perhaps I didn't give the series a fair shake. I couldn't. Nausea had set in. I will say this for it-- it has gotten a segment of the population reading that normally doesn't read much.
Unfortunately, it also promotes the belief that we won't be needing the world much longer, which has extremely unfortunate ramifications for the environment, public health, and international relations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fast read---Bad message, Oct. 29 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Left Behind: A Novel of the Earths Last Days (Paperback)
It's easy to hack the Bible for the sake of fiction and money, but to do it so amateurishly and to so artificially construct upon the book of Revelations is a sacrilege that might impress only the slowest of folk. This is all made up, people, with the most cringingly obvious stock characters, the cheapest of sentimentalism to substitute for faith, no real character development, completely ridiculous situations. On the plus side, it IS a fast read, mostly because there is no actual substance in to engage the mind or the soul. Now, the Bible states clearly right at the end of Revelations that for anyone to add to the things said in that book, change them, construct on them, substract from them in any way is a big no no. Read your Bible again, please. And don't substitute true faith for cheap crass commercialism.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Theologically poor and very shallow, Sept. 10 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Left Behind: A Novel of the Earths Last Days (Paperback)
I read the first two books in this series, and was appalled at the story: if it was JUST fiction (and not "based" on the Bible), I would leave well enough alone. But this is supposedly based on the Word of God. Reader beware! It scares me to think that people think this is a good read, or inspiring. Let me say this, the easy-believism in this story should be enough to drive any sincere believer away! But the church today seems to like this sort of fluffy nonsense. And let's not discuss eschatology here. To say that it is almost non-existent would be an understatement. And I think that the antichrist is absolutely not believable. I'm sure that Mr. LaHaye is a nice man, but the content of this book is dangerously lacking in substance and faith. Sorry.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly exciting, Oct. 7 2006
By 
Kona (Emerald City) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Left Behind (Paperback)
The story opens over the Atlantic, on a 747 enroute to London. The pilot, Rayford Steele, is daydreaming about pretty flight attendant Hattie, and rationalizing the end of his marriage. In first class sits Buck Williams, a respected journalist on the way to his next big story. Suddenly, chaos erupts on the plane: Dozens of people are missing! And millions more are missing from every country on earth. Over the next few days, Ray, Hattie, and Buck will meet again and deal with these disappearances, as well as mind-boggling changes in the world of international politics.

I'd heard about this book, of course, but had never been interested in reading it, until I picked up a used copy on a whim. After just a few pages, I was hooked. It's full of action and drama, told in an easy-reading style that makes the pages fly by. I expected it to be preachy, but it wasn't; it was thought-provoking and intense and left me almost breathless at the end, ready to get the next book in the series. It's a great story, entertaining and down-to-earth, about the end days predicted in the Bible. Highly recommended.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Familiary breeds contempt?, July 9 2004
By 
Brian Hulett "okierazorbacker2" (Oinklahoma) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Left Behind: A Novel of the Earths Last Days (Paperback)
This now-famous set of novels has doubtless affected many thousands of lives for the better. Because of that I thank God that Lahaye & Jenkins fleshed out their idea and forged ahead with this series. People needed to hear this message.
For me, however, because I am a voracious reader of fiction and having also studied the Scriptures for years in relation to our Lord's return, I must admit this opening installment left me absolutely cold. Part of that is surely because I know the whole general plot before it all begins, because I'm familiar with the premillenialist point of view on Bible prophecy. Some of the suspense is lost if one knows the outline before the book is even purchased.
But I have more serious problems with "Left Behind" than my own familiarity. For instance, while I believe the premillenial perspective is largely closer to our future reality than other interpretations of the vastly vague prophecies of our coming end times, I don't buy into it completely. The concept that God will really cause The Rapture in such a way as to kill so many unregenerated humans by removing Christians who are driving their cars, operating air traffic control centers, flying airplanes, etc., seems problematic. This isn't a case of the Israelites coming into Canaan and cleansing the land of the corrupted cultures there; this is a case of Christians mingled among those who may be saved, and I can't accept the extrapolation of prophetic exegesis that results in this belief. Ultimately I think those of us who reach heaven will look back and laugh at some of the stuff we believed, and fall down in worship at God's feet for the wisdom He displays, as shown by the way He'll pull all this off. Never doubt that His way will be far better than anything we've yet figured out.
Having said all that, a more basic problem here is that the writing is so, so basic. Sure, that was done to reach as many people as possible, but the writing is dumbed down SO MUCH that it's painful to try to slow down my mind enough that it doesn't wander. A book on this subject should be so gripping that it at least holds one's attention, don't you think?
This leaves me with the feeling that the "Left Behind Kids" books are superfluous. This book is as easily accessible to grade school kids as anything I've seen, which is a good and bad thing. Think of it as "Premillenialism 101: A Grade School Primer," and you'll have an appropriate outlook on the character of this novel. That's not an entirely bad thing, obviously, but this reader prefers something on a more grownup level and won't be cracking open any of the sequels to this megahit.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very good (a maybe informative?) read, July 7 2004
By 
A. Stender (Hartford, VT United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Left Behind: A Novel of the Earths Last Days (Paperback)
I knew the premise of this story (Millions of people on Earth disappear when they're taken by God up to heaven) and it sounded a little too much like Stephen King's "The Stand" for me. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised with this book because it was so thoroughly realized. The story is taken directly from the Bible, describing what the Rapture would be like and Trials and Tribulations afterward. The Antichrist is rapidly coming into power. It's all very exciting. This book mostly deals with the disappearances and the week afterward. My sister saw me reading this book and asked, "Isn't that book, like, pseudo-religious or something?" Not pseudo. It IS religious and that might put some people off from reading it, but it shouldn't. Granted, the story does come off as preachy at times but the book (and series) is basically a novelized version of Revelations. It's still an exciting and interesting read. Now I've got to finish the whole series and, for fun, read "Right Behind" and "Kiss My - - Left Behind".
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4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping & important, but sometimes tedious, July 2 2004
By 
Steven Tursi (Suffern, NY) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Left Behind: A Novel of the Earths Last Days (Paperback)
The interesting thing about this book is that a christian can get as much out of it as a non-believer. I agree with the person who pointed out the frequent reviews of the storyline, however I wouldn't classify this book as mediocre as a result. If you read this book, don't be surprised if you find yourself buying the next book in the series - they all have cliff-hanger style endings. I ended up reading the entire series in about 10 days. Needless to say, with all of its faults, its a page-turner.
This book, like most religious fiction, is probably not appropriate for the type of christian who is a hardcore student of theology - such a person's experience of Left Behind would be of their differences in interepretation or even the biblical errors of the book. On the other hand, for a casual christian, such as myself, these errors don't seem significant when compared to the book's message. Likewise, atheists probably would be downright offended by a book like this as it portrays them as eager followers of Antichrist in spite of overwhelming evidence of his identity.
Make no mistake, this is a controversial book which is very powerful to the right reader. I hope this helps.
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Left Behind: A Novel of the Earths Last Days
Left Behind: A Novel of the Earths Last Days by Tim LaHaye (Paperback - Feb. 12 1996)
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