on June 9, 2004
The first book of the Left Behind series is the introduction of the characters who are "left behind" after Christ's church is raptured. Many of these people have had loved ones or friends introduce them to the concept that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, and that the rapture is coming. Some understand what happened when the night sky, for a few moments, was brighter than noon in the Sahara Desert; some do not; many people have no clue.
Rayford Steel, pilot, planned to have his first extramarital affair with his flight attendant Hattie Durham. However, half the passengers and some of his flight crew disappear, leaving their clothing and belongings behind, and he knows what happened. His wife and son are gone, and he feels guilty and afraid. Newscasts televise the plethora of accidents and crashes that occur because the drivers suddenly disappeared. The world is in chaos.
One of the passengers on the plane is Buck Williams, who also plays a key role in developing a Tribulation Force to stand against the anti-Christ. Buck is a feature writer for a magazine and has access that many do not, including to the man who rises from the ashes as the most powerful man on earth.
Why was it the best selling Christian fiction and New York Times' number one for so long?
The writing is not strong but, like others, I was engrossed in the story and possible answers. There are many books about John's Book of Revelations, the last book in the New Testament, but none encompasses the depth of this series. This also coincides with my own personal beliefs about the End Times therefore providing validity to my thoughts. I read the entire series within a few weeks, and then passed the books on to a friend.
This book may not capture your interest, the style may irritate you, but I enjoyed it.
on April 29, 2004
The book Left Behind, a paperback book by LaHaye Jenkins was a very interesting book to read. This book was well written, and easy to read and understand. The story line was well thought out, and kept the reader sitting on the edge of their seat to see what would happen next. This book went into great detail when explaining views or objects. That made it very easy for a person to imagine what the characters in the book were seeing. On the other hand, this book has its flaws.
The Left Behind story line was stretched out way to much. In other words the book keeps you in suspense way to long for little and big parts of the story. There are times when reading this book you get confused about who is talking because the context is poorly written. This book is in a series that include other books, but when they end the book, they just leave you hanging. They just stop in the middle of a thought. The story overall is great if you get though it.
The story starts out on a commercial flight going overseas. Rayford Steele is the pilot. Rayford is the father of two children a boy and girl, and the husband of a beautiful woman. On the flight overseas something very unusual happens. Many passengers started to disappear. The only thing left behind were their clothes. Everyone was very scared. Rayford turned the plane around and went back to where the had taken off. When he got there, he found that many more people were missing on the ground. Everything was a big mess. Rayford went home to find his wife and son, but found neither. They were lost forever. He called his daughter and she was still on Earth. When Rayford and his daughter were together, they went to the church to find out what had happened. The pastor led them to believe it was the rapture of God. So they formed a group to study more about it, and to be saved so they could go where everyone else went when God came again. There was also a reporter that joined the group. They are all trying to stop the new U.N. leader from taking over the world. He supposedly the anti-Christ. That is the brief inside look at what this book is about.
on February 10, 2004
This book, like the series it begins, takes a great premise...and fritters it away. The premise is that Biblical prophesies of the end times are true in the most literal possible sense. The opening chapters are good, as millions of Christians are carried to God in the blink of an eye, leaving behind little piles of clothing, rings, watches, false teeth-and driverless cars, planes, and buses. Also good is the way those who remain-the Left Behind of the title-seek to make sense of it all. A few recognize the event for what it is, but most turn to contrived explanations that exclude God: probably just what would indeed happen.
Then the story stumbles. It would be better if it were presented as something like Christian science fiction-an extended "what if?" scenario similar to C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy, or Narnia, or The Great Divorce. Instead, we get sermons on the details of the prophetic interpretation underlying that "what if"-designed to show which details of the scenario the authors believe are predicted by scripture, and which they invented to fill gaps.
It doesn't matter whether you agree with the sermons or not. After a while, they kill the narrative in its tracks. Instead of a visceral story of people trying to come to grips with the Rapture, we get the start of a 12-book series, padded with hundreds of pages of sermons. As the series progresses, the plot also degenerates into a boring drone of car chases and narrow escapes. I am seven volumes into it and getting very tired of characters spending all their time running from things.
These books are best for Christians seeking an action-adventure alternative to oversexed secular literature, especially if you don't really care that the plotting and characters are somewhat clunky. But beware of using anything more than this, the first book, as an evangelical tool. Your non-Christian friend may be used to better plotting.
If you're looking for an action-adventure with a strong Christian character, try Alistair MacLean's Cold War spy novel, The Secret Ways. I don't know whether MacLean, author of Guns of Naverone, was a Christian, but he created an unforgettable Christian character.
Meanwhile, Left Behind gets three stars: four for the premise but only two for the execution.
on February 9, 2004
When I first read this book I thought it was interesting but it sure didn't go with what I remembered from the Bible. In my Bible study groups we had not covered Revelations that much, so I had to go look up a few things. I discovered that many of the evangelists use a Bible written by a man named Scofield. He came from a dubious background. Look him up on the internet. While in prison for forgery, he converted to Christianity, of the Darbyite influence. Anyway, he ended up writing a Bible using his interpretations of what it meant, so of course, then he has changed it to his liking.
But what the authors are saying is that we, believers in Jesus, will receive this Rapture they are talking about instead of going through the tribulations, but the original Bible does not say this. So I am wondering, if Armegeddon comes, and the Christians who believe what the authors are preaching, when they don't receive this Rapture when promised, will that make them turn away from God? Is this more a Satanic than a Christian book? I don't know, but I would suggest that before you take it as gospel, that you should look a little deeper. Jesus warned of us the false prophets. One thing good about the book is that it does make one want to get right with God. You might want to read the book "Forcing God's Hands..." by Grace Halsell, she has written a book explaining how this evangelical belief started and what it means and it is truly scary for the people of this world.
on May 31, 2003
I really enjoy these novels. I think that they are interesting, exciting, and well-plotted. However, the truth is, that despite all of that, when I read a Christian novel, I am not reading it so much for the plot or for excitement, but rather, I tend to read it hoping to come to a more fully realized understanding of Christianity. These novels fail to deliver on that level. Again, I have enjoyed all eleven novels very much, so I would strongly recomend that you buy them if that is all you are looking for. The problem that I have with them is just that every time I finish one, I put it down feeling empty, feeling like the authors never really took advantage of the oppertunity to talk about our faith in a meaningful way, in a way that would help Christians become better Christians and help non-Christians have a better understanding of what it means to believe in Christ. If you are looking for a novel like that, I would recomend trying Brian Caldwell's novel WE ALL FALL DOWN. It is not the most pleasent novel in the world as it faces the horror of the Apocalypse full on, but I have never read a book about Christianity that so fully and completely explored the ramifications of the faith. When I put Caldwell's novel down, I was left with a new perspective on my faith and felt like I was the better because of it. I have re-read it three times so far and come away with something new each time. If you're looking for something a little more substantial than LEFT BEHIND, I would definitly recomend picking it up.
on December 31, 2002
The story starts with the rapture of church by God. Millions of people disappeared in a moment with their belonging left behind. And the story fulfils exactly the prophecies in the book of revelation of Holy Bible afterward.
I'd read loads of excellent articles, on both pro and con side, about Christianity. I'd reached book 4 of this series. The reading experience throughout this 4 volumes brings me a feeling of reading sort of comprehensive bible stories, or a extension of bible words. For the sake of evanglism the novel do achieve it in a certain extent, especially in the part describing the praying experience of the member of the tribulation force. Their spiritual interaction with God is truly sentimental, touchy and even more important, very real. Unfortunately it spans only a couple of pages.
Indeed it is less a novel, in terms of character development, plot and etc. I am pretty disappointed by the lack of drilling into the casual relationship of apocalytic events. After all, the story span more than 10 volumes. Time and space are not concerns. In the novels they just happened because and only because it has to fulfil the prophecy. And I found little inspiration in this novel. Neither learned a lesson.
If you are a Christian, it won't bring you much new stuff. If you aren't a Christian, you may not be moved by the stuff in this novel.
on July 26, 2002
I read this book specifically because it was being banned by some circles for it's extreme Christian views at the same time as the Harry Potter books were being banned by other circles. This being my reason for buying the book, I didn't expect much.
I admit that I knew just about nothing about the Book of Revelations before reading this novel. I just wanted to figure out why people thought that this book was offensive. I guess in teaching me something, anything, about theology, the authors have succeeded in their mission.
I agree with some of the reviewers that this book will never pass for great literature. Much of the dialogue is corny and over the top. The characters' talents and weaknesses are a little bit too convenient for my tastes. Despite that, I did read this to the end, and bought the next volume in the series.
I know that I should be reading Pulitzer prize and Nobel prize winning authors. But this is the kind of thing that I can read when nobody's watching. I know that I won't have to discuss it on an intellectual level with a book club. I know that it's probably not good for me, but I take a certain pleasure in reading this series anyway.
on June 17, 2002
It is a good idea to bring Revelations and the Rapture to light but the writing style is not great. The characters are not really developed and I agree with another review that the female characters are weak, but then so are the males. The characters are a bit too naive and simplistic and this is where the storyline becomes implausible to accomodate the simple characters. I cannot believe that an investigative reporter would be that naive. I think in a real world of a truly wily and utterly deceptive antichrist, they would be eaten up and destroyed in no time. It is not great writing and pretty simplistic which is a flaw of much Christian writing. However, having said all this, I still look forward to reading the next book-like a soap opera. And I think manifesting the Rapture in real-life terms is great. No longer is it, there are two in the field and then there is one. I wish I found the characters strong and inspiring but I did not. I have to go the the Old Testament for that! The only two characters that inspired me were the two prophets at the Wall. I found the Peter Danielson "Children of the Lion" series much more spiritual and inspiring--It brings the Bible and the history of the Jews to life - and let's not forget Jesus was a Jew bringing a new testament to them from God and Paul brought it to us gentiles. I gave a 3 star rating based not on the writing, but on making the Rapture and Revelations more accessible only. I don't think this series is a great or inspiring example of the true love of Christ or the wondrous power of God BUT IT TRIES (which should be commended).
on April 17, 2002
Reading some of the other reviews, I felt I had to make my voice heard. Left Behind is as many have put it very simply written, but I imagine that was done on purpose to make the book accessible to everyone. I do not claim to go to church regularly or believe that the end of the world would actually happen like this but the story does have a nice science-fiction read to it. The characters could use a little more definition, especially those that are to become the main focus over the course of the series, and the dialogue at times is too simple for the way that most people talk. However, this book did manage to entertain me enough that I bought the next two the day I finished the first. The only really annoying part of the book was when a Bible verse was mentioned without actually including it; this may have led to better understanding of some of the character's thoughts. I would recommend the story to people, but with the caveat that they might be put off by the "preachy" nature of the book. 3 Stars for cleverness, losing the two for the simple dialogue and characters.
on April 16, 2002
I admire the authors for their attempt, it was bravely done, and they avoided adding too many unChristian Political Overtones to a book of such possible importance. While they stuck to the views of a small Christian Sect about what it took to be saved, this was the premiss of the story and thus was vital to the story working. They also showed both intellectual and Christian understanding and compassion to those groups that had wrong beliefs. They may be damned for their mistakes, but it wasn't because the people were evil or stupid.
The above are rare accomplishments indeed in Christian Fiction, but unfortantely their basic writing skills failed them badly. They failed to develop characters well, and their knowledge of politics and foreign affairs is laughable indeed. Their action descriptions of action are somewhat gripping, but poorly thought out. Their descriptions of Religious Conversions and faith are more than a little trite, and somehow I doubt that reading the Bible everyday is going to be so vital in the End Days, or even now. However, the overwhelming emphasis on Bible Study is prehaps a believe of the Christian Sect they based the story line on, so not emphasizing would have been a mistake.