I just finsihed reading Left Behind

Don’t ask me why. Maybe it’s my continuing belief that any author who sells tens of millions of copies must have some redeeming qualities, despite all the empirical evidence I have to the contrary. Maybe I just have an inner urge to subject myself to crap. Maybe it’s the “watching a train wreck” mentality. But I happened to see the whole series, with their shiny black covers and bright bands of color, lined up at the library, and I had to take the first one home and read it.

My reaction: wow, that was about as bad as I expected it to be. Writing is acceptable though the word choice is sometimes awkward. Characters are one-dimensional, though I pretty much knew that was going to be true. The thing that really drove me nuts was the plot. So we start out on a plane and the Rapture happens. Worldwide panic and disaster, plane barely manages to land safely. Pilot goes home, realizes that his wife and kid are gone. Reporter goes to New York to meet with his boss.

And then, within a few hours, everything is back to normal. All the characters are acting pretty much like it’s just an ordinary day, with no big, life-changing event in the recent past. For everyone other than Rayford Steele, there’s exactly zero emotional impact. And nothing in the world at large seems to have been affected by the disappearances and disasters. Government keeps chugging along, airlines and other businesses manage to keep running without a hitch, newspapers keep printing steadily, TV doesn’t miss a beat, etc…

Even so, I didn’t give up entirely until the scene where the banker calls up Buck Williams and basically says, “Hi. I’m a member of the secret cabal of businessmen that runs the Western World. And I’m going to tell you all my secrets for no particular reason.” The part about the two witnesses was pretty silly too. I mean we’ve just seen a huge worldwide disaster folks. Why would CNN, or anybody else, for that matter, care about these two guys preaching?

Anyway, my question is this: does it get any better? Is there any conceivable reason why I would want to pick up the first of the kajillion sequels that they’ve written? Or should I simply try to repress the memories of this one and get on with my life?

Oh, man. I actually read the first three books before giving up in disgust. They don’t get any better after the first one. Very bad writing. One-dimensional characters. Totally pandering to their target audience. Stop now!

I haven’t looked, but if you’re looking for christian novels then surely there must be something better out there than the LB series. I mean, it wouldn’t take much at all to be better.

I read the first and half of the second before giving up. And I’ll read anything! AND I considered myself Christian at the time. I don’t know…those books might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Showed me just how foolish the whole concept of Armageddon is.

I tried, but flipping through I couldn’t really find any major female characters, which for me is a danger sign in any book written after 1945.

Lemme give you a few hints on how to enjoy the “LeftBehind” experience.

1.Do Not Actually Read The Books. Instead listen to them on Books-On-Tape or Books-On-CD. The prose is awkward at times, but it becomes much less so when read out loud.

2.Find the Frank Muller edition. There are at least two versions of the book-on-tape/CD, one done in a “Radio drama”-style(complete with sound effects!) which totally sucks. The other is done by Frank Muller. Frank Muller is the most prolific and talented narrator, EVER! He can do a conversation between two or three characters all with the same type of accent, and shade each one just differently enough so that you never are in doubt about which character is speaking.(Sadly, Frank did not do the most recent installment, nor will he be able to do any future installments because of injuries sustained in the past year.)

3.Its not fiction, its sci-fi/fantasy! If you try thinking of this series as a “could it really happen that way” scenario, you will be almost forced to give up on it. The situation is shaky at best and the authors do nothing to make it seem at all realistic. Instead take the opposite tack; think of it as PURE fantasy. think of the whole thing as taking place on a parallel earth, or some foreign planet that just happens to speak english(and Yiddish!)
and suddenly the whole thing is rather engrossing. Hey, c’mon, if Frank Herbert could get you to care about kooky religious zealots in Dune and all it’s sequels, this shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

Anyway, try it this way and I think you’ll find that the whole thing is a lot more enjoyable.

Happy Reading(or listening!)

Chris W

I’ve read all of them out to date except for the latest one. Oddly enough, I liked the first few of them – while the writing needed to be overlooked at points, what I perceived to be energy and excitement really drew me into the series. I eagerly devoured the first six in a few months’ time.

The problems as you go on is that the plot gets confused with so many characters that it’s difficult to keep up, and the plots get so utterly bizarre that it seems almost laughable. Yet to me, the energy in the books really kept me going until the plots got too ugly (the horrific flying beasts) and interweaved for me to continue being absorbed in the books. I’m sure I will pick up the rest of the series as I see them and continue to read them, but not with the same energy and excitement as the first few. If one doesn’t like the first few, I definitely wouldn’t suggest continuing to read the series.

I for one made it through the first three or four (can’t even remember, now, that’s how memorable they were), and I can vouch for the fact that they do not get better. If anything they get worse. I mean, for a little bit in the beginning you get a bit of excitment in the concept of the book itself, but as the pages go on, the horrible, horrible writing kills any interest you might have in the story. The story was the only thing that had kept me going, I just wanted to know how it was resolved. I’d avoid them at all costs.

Well, they don’t get any better. I keep reading them (from the library, I don’t buy them) just because I want to see how it’s going to end. Well, I know how it’s going to end – one thing this series is is predictable! What I want to see is how the end will be handled. I’m a fast reader and I can get through a bad book in a day, so reading them (especially as I am not paying for them) isn’t putting me out any. BTW, when I started to read the series, I posted critiques of the first few – I read them all but lost interest in writing and posting the reviews.

Rule No. 1: DO NOT TALK ABOUT THE SECRET CABAL CLUB!

Rule No. 2: If this is your first day with the secret cabal club, you will … um, do something secret.

Still, even in a SF-fantasy there needs to be some sort of internal verosimilitude. The Left Behind series’ basis in pre-tribulation Rapture Theology, forces the author into the scenario where the Rapture happens yet the world keeps going on in its merry business. Now, to you and I it may seem obvious that if the Rapture were to happen, (a) the economy would take a hit, (b) the social fabric would be stressed and © millions of people would be doing some serious reconsidering of our theology and ways of living… but to this particular brand of premillenialists, the world MUST keep going on in its merry heathen humanistic one-world-government-cabal ways, because their reading of the Bible HAS to be the exact predictor of events.

I read the first several installments, but after a while it seemed that the authors were spinning their wheels. The two volumes after “Assassins” really didn’t progress the story very much short of the mark of the beast executions. While that development is one of the major ones of the story, I got the feeling that the writers were dragging things out to have more volumes to sell.

It is the writing equivalent of the Simpsons doing a clip show to sell into syndication.

I had heard that there were only going to be seven, but now there appears that there will be 12. Did they stretch it out after the series got hot or am I misinformed?
FYI- I also used the audio versions after three or four of them. The prose is pretty bad, but I enjoyed the content.

Also, you can REALLY tell the people who don’t normally read, but start because of this series (it seems to have brought many new readers to the bookstore much like Harry Potter).

I always hear, “It is SO well written!”

No it isn’t. That is not a well written book. It may be an enjoyable book. It may be an entertaining book. It may be a socially important book, which has done wonders for its set goal of promoting Christian faith, but it is NOT well written.

I have read every one. I am slowly going blind as a punishment. I do it because I want the cool Christian kids to accept me, but they seem to have lost interest in the series around book 5.

They do not get better. The first one was a beautiful peak of adequate writing mixed with muted excitement. When a new character is introduced, and someone says “Hey! Tell me about how you converted, and then I’ll tell you about how I did!” you can safely skip the next 10 pages or so. That will leave you with about 25 pages you have to read in any given book.

The Christ Clone trilogy by James BeauSeigneur (“In His Image”,“Birth of an Age”,“Acts of God”) covers the same material, and still beats you over the head with God, but is much better. The author actually uses a few metaphors to liven things up.

I read This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti. Not really into Christian fiction, but I enjoyed the book.

I stuck doggedly with the series until this last one, which I gave up in the middle. I’m a stubborn librarian who wants to keep up, and I like B-movies, those are my only excuses. I do kind of like to see what they’re doing with the scripture–from my POV, stretching it till it screams (Though I am religious, I don’t believe in anything like the Rapture).

I think they’re planning 14 volumes, aren’t they? Should have stuck with 7, but I guess you don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs too soon.

They’re bad. Bad bad bad. But then so are most bestsellers. Danielle Steel, anyone? I only made it through one of hers.

I disliked the Peretti books, but not as much. They were just as farfetched, though. I can’t actually think of any mainstream Christian fiction that I thought was really well-done right now, but I’ll think on’t.

These are some of the worst written books EVER.

By that I don’t mean written badly grammatically, it’s just BORING. Surely the Rapture can be written in a more exciting way then this!!!

Interesting article on Tim LaHaye and the LB series:

I have, in the past, seen some Protestant types call the LB series ‘false prophecy,’ because so many American Fundamentalists are now convinced that the End Times will happen in just this way. (That is, they don’t seem to realize that it’s speculative fiction.)

Good Christian fiction, btw, can be found in C.S.Lewis’ trilogy. Excellent stuff.

A coworker of mine described the LB books as “An After School Special for Jesus”…i.e.

“Gosh, if only I’d loved Jesus before, everything would’ve been alright…”

Just out of curiosity, can anyone cite me a specific example of this “bad writing” that everyone seems to agree these books are filled with? Also, can you cite me an example of someone whose writing you champion as “good” or “excellent”(just so I have a point of reference)?

Chris W

I probably should read one of them, just so I can write a parody and call it Left Buttock.

Agreed. You beat me to it. There are good Christian writers out there. There are also complete hacks. Lewis is a good writer, whatever morons write Left Behind are a bunch of hacks.