Left Behind by Tim LaHaye

Left Behind

An airborne Boeing 747 is headed to London when, without any warning, passengers mysteriously disappear from their seats. Terror and chaos slowly spread not only through the plane but also worldwide as unusual events continue to unfold. For those who have been left behind, the apocalypse has just begun......

Title:Left Behind
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0842342702
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages:342 pages

Left Behind Reviews

  • Greg
    Jul 02, 2007

    Most people do now know that I have read 7 of the 13 Left Behind books (12 actually, but then they threw on that extra one, and this is not counting the prequels, the kids versions and the horrendous graphic novels: Armageddon can pay off nicely as long as it's delayed). I don't hide the fact, it just doesn't come up that often. I would have read all of them, but when I went through my

    phase these were the only ones out. The phase lasted I think 2 weeks. The books read quickly.

    Why?

    O

    Most people do now know that I have read 7 of the 13 Left Behind books (12 actually, but then they threw on that extra one, and this is not counting the prequels, the kids versions and the horrendous graphic novels: Armageddon can pay off nicely as long as it's delayed). I don't hide the fact, it just doesn't come up that often. I would have read all of them, but when I went through my

    phase these were the only ones out. The phase lasted I think 2 weeks. The books read quickly.

    Why?

    Originally I wanted to read something I knew going into the book that it would be shit. I do this from time to time. I also wanted to read what AMERICA was reading, and right around the time I read this there was a good deal of media coverage on the Left Behind phenomena. I felt disconnected from AMERICA at the time, as I was at Grad School and spent most of my time around then reading Adorno, Deleuze and Levinas. Most of AMERICA wasn't reading this, but they were reading LaHaye and Jenkins tales of a post-rapture world.

    Once I started reading the first one I got hooked on them, and read all of them that I could. Were they any good? No. They are terrible books. Awful. The writing is shit, their dialog is painfully cookie cutter and except for Rayford every character sounds exactly the same. These two murders of Literature also found it too time consuming to put things like, 'Rayford said', or 'Buck said' after a line of dialog so to follow a conversation again and again I found myself having to count back lines to see who was talking when. That most of their dialog was made up of short declarative sentences made this even more painful (I don't know why but it did).

    The plot.

    All the born again christians goto heaven when the rapture happens. The non-believers are all left for the 7 years of tribulation. Everyone gets one more shot to believe in the big G and JC, because they are kind that way. The anti-JC and satan though are out to make life a living hell for these new found believers.

    Apparently there was a video game that came out, where the Tribulation Force (what a fucking stupid name) got to fight the minions of satan. It looked like a Grand Theft Auto kind of game, and apparently you could kill the evil-doers. Neat, huh?

    Did this make me a believer?

    No.

    What did I learn from these books?

    That once again outlandish persecution fantasies dominate the thinking of groups of people. This isn't news, but at the time I was drawing interesting parallels between left-wing theorists like Ernesto Laclau, left-wing theorists like Judith Butler, racist writers like George Lincoln Rockwell, and these two bozos. All of them based their entire philosophy basically on the opposition where they precieved themselves to be a minority being threatened, and basically stuck on the idea of us vs. them as a starting point. All three types of people went in divergent directions with their theorizing, but they all seem to revel in being victims. The Republican Party, and right-wing talk show hosts pass almost their entire identity these days on this kind of thought. You'd think that they were being hunted down and killed by raving liberals, instead of living in a country where their brand of thought is pretty much accepted (I'll avoid going off on my thoughts on our two-party system here). Liberals probably kind of do this too, but they at least have the decency to hide their paranoia by attempting to do something that isn't just whining about how they are being victimized (they might point to someone like a tortured prisoner, or the poor to show how bad things are under some conservative.

    This is going way off track.

    This book is pop-shit. Sadly this is a mainstream type of thought in this country, a non-thinking brand of religious mania being fed to people through shitty books like this one. Instead of believing in anything this book is getting people to do the old Pascal's wager and put the insurance bet on getting into Heaven, there is nothing here about being any kind of decent human being, just a mindless automaton getting ready to kneel down and pray and preach at anyone until they are brow-beaten into submission.

    Why three stars? Because they were just so much fun to read in their terribleness, I'll always be a sucker for the rapture stuff christians produce. Good shit.

  • Lori
    Sep 18, 2007

    i read this entire series.....almost non stop...

    they came out with a prequel series, but i figured how many times can you beat a dead horse....

    This series was really really good.

    I didnt know how i was going to like it, not being a practicing catholic and all, but even if it doesnt keep to scripture 100%, it gives you enough of an eye-opener....

    I remember thinking, wow. If this really happened, i would be one of the ones suffering through all this. And what would it take for me turn and accept

    i read this entire series.....almost non stop...

    they came out with a prequel series, but i figured how many times can you beat a dead horse....

    This series was really really good.

    I didnt know how i was going to like it, not being a practicing catholic and all, but even if it doesnt keep to scripture 100%, it gives you enough of an eye-opener....

    I remember thinking, wow. If this really happened, i would be one of the ones suffering through all this. And what would it take for me turn and accept god....how many plauges and tribuations would i suffer through....

    You get to see how the whole world gets affected by this transition period, where the antichrist fights for his throne and god is ever angry.... a war between good and bad....

    Its long, theres so many books to this series, but if you are the least bit interested in what life would be like once god takes his chosen ones, and the rest of the world is left to fight off the devil/ antichrist.... give it a whirl.

    I am glad i did!!!

  • Summer
    Jan 01, 2008

    I felt left out of the Bad Books Club because I completely failed to get past the first chapter of

    , so I read this to keep up. And boy, is this one horrible book! And there's at least 11 more of them! (N.B. - I will not be reading the rest of the series)

    The writing is beyond terrible. In a story that presents so many interesting narrative possibilities - the grief of those "left behind" after The Rapture, the breakdown of society after a massive tragedy, the personal pain and so

    I felt left out of the Bad Books Club because I completely failed to get past the first chapter of

    , so I read this to keep up. And boy, is this one horrible book! And there's at least 11 more of them! (N.B. - I will not be reading the rest of the series)

    The writing is beyond terrible. In a story that presents so many interesting narrative possibilities - the grief of those "left behind" after The Rapture, the breakdown of society after a massive tragedy, the personal pain and soul-searching of those who believed they had faith but who were found wanting - and ignores them all in favor of people sitting on beds and talking on phones. The authors say that there is violence and mayhem, but don't show any of it. The main characters' conversions to Christianity happen as almost an afterthought - there is little description of the feeling of God's love, of how they will change their lives and live by the teachings of Jesus. The book could have been about 300 pages shorter for all it has of any substance, or it could have remained the same length and added some actual plot or character development.

    Oh my, the characters. Our Two Heroes are named Rayford Steele and Buck Williams. The current president is named Gerald Fitzhugh (totally not supposed to evoke John Fitzgerald Kennedy, I'm sure!). Williams's editor is named Steve Plank, and I presume that if this naming scheme keeps up, later volumes will include media mogul Robert Mudrock and sassy reporter June Heat-Register. There are two women in the book, and both of them are boy-crazy and even find the time to get makeovers in the middle of the horrors of the post-rapture world. They are also wholly without personality, but so are all the male characters. The Antichrist shoots his two closest business partners in order to command respect, and then uses his evil hypnosis skills to make everyone in the room forget about it. So what was the point? There's also a great throwaway line about how much Planned Parenthood loves its filthy abortion money, and how they're so sad they no longer have any babies to abort (no mention is made of reproductive health, etc.)

    Theologically, this book is on shaky ground as well. There is the aforementioned avoidance of actually describing the process of converstion, and there is little Biblical evidence given for the Rapture itself (an event which many Christian sects do not believe in and see no textual evidence for). Questions are brought up (in the book!) about God's seemingly abusive role in forcing people to accept Jesus's sacrifice and love for humanity by secondhandedly killing scores of people in the aftermath of an event where drivers of cars disappeared suddenly. If the seven years of tribulation are supposed to give the unbelievers a second chance, how about all of those poor souls who died in accidents, or who were stricken with heart attacks? These questions are not answered in the slightest, and I was slightly thrown off by the book's refusal to capitalize "Him" when speaking of the divine. It's an ostensibly religious book without any real faith.

    This could have been such an interesting story, but the writing is so utterly awful that the series stands as dangerously bad. It does nothing to address the mystery of faith and the horrors of the Apocalpse - it could be any third-rate spy thriller gathering dust on an airport bookshelf. And it's so damnedly popular!

  • Allen
    Jul 06, 2008

    I usually have students fill out a card at the start of the semester with information like their major, where they went to high school, etc. One thing I always ask is what book they read most recently. The Left Behind series started showing up on those cards a lot a few years ago, so I decided to read the first one to see what they were like.

    This is absolutely the worst-written book that I've ever picked up. The dialogue is painful, the characters are wooden, the descriptions are hackneyed. In

    I usually have students fill out a card at the start of the semester with information like their major, where they went to high school, etc. One thing I always ask is what book they read most recently. The Left Behind series started showing up on those cards a lot a few years ago, so I decided to read the first one to see what they were like.

    This is absolutely the worst-written book that I've ever picked up. The dialogue is painful, the characters are wooden, the descriptions are hackneyed. In every way this book is just too dreadful to wade through. I skimmed it, right through to the unintentionally laughable end where the main characters are striding side by side down the street to go take on the evil-doers as the "Tribulation Force".

    I now have a benchmark for the scale of books -- this is the bottom. Apparently you can't give a book a rating below one star.

  • Ancient Weaver
    Sep 22, 2008

    is one of the most wretchedly awful books I have ever forced myself to read.

    If possible, I would give this book zero stars. Only by sheer willpower and by listening to the audio book one short installment at a time was I able to get through this one. Whole essays/rants could be written on how much this book sucks, but I'll limit myself to just a couple observations.

    The worst thing about

    isn't LaHaye's crazy religious beliefs, it's the fact that it's such a horribly written pi

    is one of the most wretchedly awful books I have ever forced myself to read.

    If possible, I would give this book zero stars. Only by sheer willpower and by listening to the audio book one short installment at a time was I able to get through this one. Whole essays/rants could be written on how much this book sucks, but I'll limit myself to just a couple observations.

    The worst thing about

    isn't LaHaye's crazy religious beliefs, it's the fact that it's such a horribly written piece of garbage. The only other books I have read that have been written this poorly are L. Ron Hubbard's

    series (which, interestingly enough, are also religious propaganda fiction written by a fanatical religious leader in his declining years). C.S. Lewis was a popular Christian author with whom I often disagree, but Lewis is infinitely more readable and infinitely more enjoyable than LaHaye and Jenkins regardless of whether you agree or disagree with him.

    Apparently, the writing process for the

    books was as follows - LaHaye would write up a couple hundred page outline of notes and then submit the notes to his co-author Jenkins who would turn these notes into a story. Jenkins set a goal of writing 20 pages a day, which means that within less than one month's time he could crank out a whole book. A real writer worth his or her salt might spend years taking notes, writing, editing, rewriting, editing some more, re-re-writing, etc. It's not surprising then that

    reads like mass-produced crap, because that is exactly what it is - McFiction for the McMasses. No, scratch that. Stephen King used to joke about how his books were the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries (most of what he wrote was at least a hundred times superior to

    ).

    is the four-day old, rotting McFiction that somebody salvaged from a dumpster.

    A final comment on this travesty of the written word - there is an almost total absence of Christian virtue or compassion in

    The Christian scriptures speak of the fruit of the spirit being love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. None of the "Christian" characters in this book embody these kind of virtues.

    Christianity in

    is more like a form of Manichean dualism than a religion of faith, hope, or love. The so-called Christians in

    are grim survivalists resigned to a fatalistic worldview of kill-or-be-killed. Their only concerns seem to revolve around taking care of their own and signing up more recruits. It's no wonder that so much of what passes for Christianity in America consists of extremist, right-wing militia groups holed-up in their gated compound mall fortresses rather than genuine religious communities when books like this are what so many "Christians" imagine to be representative of their faith.

  • Will Byrnes
    Oct 25, 2008

    Try to forget for a minute that there are people who take this stuff literally. The book actually works as a sort of sci-fi novel, the kind Robert Heinlein might have written for adolescents. The characters are paper thin and the truth is

    to true believers. It is a scandal that this stuff sold so many copies. But it was worth the read to know what all the fuss was about. Entertaining, sure, but still a major eye-roller.

  • Nick Black
    Apr 18, 2009

    My mother demanded I read this in my senior year of high school (I was no slouch reader or anything, I assure; this was indeed punishment for a handful of books the parents had found, and thrown away --

    ,

    ,

    , and for some incomprehensible reason

    , which all ought indicate the parents as not particularly illiterate people themselves (aside from the Ellison, their Index Librorum Prohibitorum at least evidenced a self-coherent ethos), and g

    My mother demanded I read this in my senior year of high school (I was no slouch reader or anything, I assure; this was indeed punishment for a handful of books the parents had found, and thrown away --

    ,

    ,

    , and for some incomprehensible reason

    , which all ought indicate the parents as not particularly illiterate people themselves (aside from the Ellison, their Index Librorum Prohibitorum at least evidenced a self-coherent ethos), and give a hint as to the bewildering nature of my formative years).

    It was quite possibly the very worst book I've ever choked down, and remembering these pages of absolute shit brings the bile to my throat to this day. Baby-Sitters Club books (of which I read about fifty, and refuse to ever list on GoodReads) had more complex and well-developed characters. The previously best-known novelist of the evangelical Christian-slash-eschatological scene,

    , absolutely puts LaHaye and Jenkins to shame, and has a series of childrens' books with less presumptuous plots. What epic trash.

  • Brad
    Jun 16, 2009

    It has been a long time since I read

    , but I have one interesting memory of reading it that remains clear and is, I think, worthy of discussion. I'll get to that memory in a second, but first I must digress.

    I read this book for a student of mine. She was a very nice lady who came into my English classes worried for everyone's souls (and I say this with all honesty).

    was her favourite novel (her favourite book was

    , obviously), and she asked me to read it just afte

    It has been a long time since I read

    , but I have one interesting memory of reading it that remains clear and is, I think, worthy of discussion. I'll get to that memory in a second, but first I must digress.

    I read this book for a student of mine. She was a very nice lady who came into my English classes worried for everyone's souls (and I say this with all honesty).

    was her favourite novel (her favourite book was

    , obviously), and she asked me to read it just after we finished Blake's

    . So I did.

    Now back to that memory.

    Early on I remember thinking, "What a brilliant book this would be if

    was a master of irony on the level of

    ." Sure...nothing could save LeHaye's clunky prose, but if he conceived of

    as a commentary on "fundamentalist believers" it would have been a stroke of genius approaching the level of

    .

    Then I started reading it that way, letting myself imagine the story as a brilliant commentary, and it made the otherwise execrable experience thoroughly tolerable. I knew it wasn't so, and I couldn't really force myself to "believe," but it sure was more fun. I laughed more than I might have, I giggled more than I might have, and I actually wasn't moved to throw this book in our backyard firepit when I finished.

    Indeed, when this piece of fundamentalist-pop-fiction kindling was over, I eschewed the flames and dropped it on the book swap shelf of our English Department. Drop a book, take a book is the theory, but there wasn't anything there I hadn't read before, so I simply left my copy of

    for some poor, unsuspecting student to stumble upon.

    And the next day it was gone.

    I wonder who took that book? Probably a member of LeHaye's choir, but I'd love for one of my colleagues to have picked it up and read it with the same guilty pleasure I did. Perhaps then I wouldn't feel so sheepish.


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