Been a long while since I’ve posted about a particular book, but this one seems worth posting about. I’ve been reading the Left Behind series for a long, long while. I discovered the book series some time in late 1999 and at that moment, there were four books available, and the plan was that there would be twelve books to complete the entire season. I was in a bookstore (go figure) and they had all four paperbacks in the same area, so I picked up book one (Left Behind) and was hooked relatively quickly… I know what you’re thinking: a Geek reading about the religious scripted end of the world?
Well, yeah. The same part of me that found the stories of Tolkien and Piers Anthony interesting, along with the story lines of Star Trek and Star Wars, is easily captivated by the fiction that these books offer. Yes, these books have a religious background and a very pointed purpose that is religious in the extreme: they want to save you and the whole “point” of the Left Behind series is to warn you of what is to come. But they are still fiction. C. S. Lewis wrote the Chronicles of Narnia as a “religious” piece of literature, or at least one that pushed a flavor of religion on people. I read them – long before I knew this – and have re-read them, because they make for a good story line. They were entertaining and filled with a good bit of fantasy, even if they were pushing a message.
The Left Behind series is a story. Is there a Rayford and Buck, a Chloe and Nicolae running around in the world right now? No, they are fictional stories. And these twelve books tell their story. But their story is twisted through a “future” period of history that marks the end of the world, as the Catholics believe it will happen (and the fact that they were left behind was their fault).
And their work – LaHaye and Jenkins – is extremely well done, at least by my standards. The writing is flowing and easy to read, neither dumbed down nor in need of translation. The editing is nearly flawless, which is something that’s hard to come by – sadly – in recent best sellers. Their character development is deep and robust; you feel like you know each character as they are introduced and live through the stories. Do I buy into the religious pitch? Not really – sorry guys – but that could be because of how I approached it. Is the interlaced preaching annoying? It can be, but it’s also easy to avoid… I find that I tend to skip over the obviously preaching sections, almost the same way I skipped the songs when I’m reading The Lord of the Rings: it’s the best way to keep yourself emersed in the overall story.
Book twelve, Glorious Appearing, is the last of the series (in theory). The first eleven books have a black border and a dark picture; this book is while with a golden scene of Earth. Any guesses as to what happens in this one? It’s the book that requires the largest leap of faith, I will say that, but I’ll say no more on the subject matter. Also, that in theory up there is because there could be an extension to this series, but odds are the authors will continue their other books… and they have plenty. There’s a number of different books that LaHaye and/or Jenkins are currently working on; the youth-oriented series of Left Behind has another twenty books to go, I think, and some of their other works are just starting up.
So what’s my take on this particular book? Read it in about six hours. Opened it on the day it was released at 12:30 and was done by dinner. Fast and easy read, and after five years, I had to see how it ended. And overall, it’s a good closing chapter to the story line… I’ve got no complaints. Oh, and Wal-Mart was selling it for $14 and change with a free paperback copy of Left Behind when it was first released; don’t know how long that promotion is going on for, but it’s a pretty good one.
The fact that the series has sold over 20 million books at last count is mindboggling…