Jason's Reviews > Left Behind

Left Behind by Tim LaHaye
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jul 04, 2008

did not like it

It would be unfortunate enough were the prose this book's lone problem. But as knuckle-headedly indelicate (Jenkins describing Carpathia as "not unlike a young Robert Redford" on 114 and later Jenkins's character describing Carpathia as "a young Robert Redford" on 232) and heavy-handed ("you might be asking Carpathia to turn against his own angels" on 231) and weirdly unfunny when attempting to be funny (the entire flirtatious cookie exchange between Buck and Chloe: 365-367 and 372-375) and cringingly pedestrian ("He knew Hattie was not a bad person. In fact, she was nice and friendly" on 89) as the prose is, the book suffers most, perhaps, from its shameless pushing of agendas amidst token attempts to convince the reader that pushing agendas couldn't be further from its intent. At one point in the novel, we learn that Buck had always thought "born-again" to be synonymic with "ultraright-winger" - Jenkins seems to be telling us, in this instance, that such isn't the case, that the two are distinct ideological phenomena or positions. And yet, earlier in the novel, Jenkins forces a disgusting critique of the pro-choice perspective into the narrative, suggesting that doctors and counselors who work in abortion clinics cannot but long for women to decide to abort their babies. The novel is explicit that we needn't subscribe to ultra-conservative ideology in order to be Christians even as it implies that ultra-conservative ideology and Christianity are inextricable bedfellows. (Another example of the novel containing this contradiction can be seen in its sympathy with "stand[ing] up [...] to bigotry" on 429 alongside its subtle bigoted dig at homosexuals on 103: "[Rayford Jr] wasn't effeminate, but Rayford had worried that he might be a mama's boy...")

It's just a thudding collapse devoid of imagination, this novel. The characters are cardboard cut-outs. There are flashes of bizarre homoerotic subtext, from the naming of characters (Buck, Rayford Steele, Dirk, Steve Plank) to double entendric prose (e.g. "to stoop to something as tawdry as paying for sex. Had Irene known how hard he was..." on 144, "and the milk making him long for his boy. This was going to be hard, so hard" on 101, "Dirk and Buck had become closer than ever, and it wasn't unusual for Buck to visit London on short notice. If Dirk had a serious lead, Buck packed and went. His trips had often turned into excursions into countries and climates that surprised him, thus he had packed the emergency gear" on 86-87). In the end, the story is little more than a stencil clumsily cut to fit a rigid (and therefore uninspired) reading of Revelation.

I'll be taking breaks between books for the duration of the series, lest I develop a need for antidepressants, or a vomit bag (thanks to gooeyness of the burgeoning relationship between Buck and Chloe). (I'm reading them in research.) There must be better fiction than this coming out of the Christian publishing houses?

*page numbers in this review are from the hardcover edition...
13 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Left Behind.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

03/04/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Lee Scoresby (new)

Lee Scoresby Thanks for your review. And thanks for commenting on my non-review. I took the book out of my list at least partly because of your comment, which may now revert to some sort of limbo-state. Have you read Slacktivist's takedowns?

Jason I haven't and will, of course, refrain from passing judgment on them until I do. I'll seek them out sometime. Glad you liked the review; it and my review of Hitchens's God is not Great are my favorites of the reviews I've written. There's nothing like a bad book to bring the laser out in us...

message 3: by Tim (new) - added it

Tim Hilarious. Loved the homoerotic subtexts bits. Do you really have to read this for research? I dont envy you your job.

message 4: by Ev (new)

Ev Why read the rest?

Jason Research. And I tend not to give up on bad books -- there might be something worthwhile in there somewhere.

Linda Regarding your last remark about good Christian fiction, may I recommend Randy Alcorn's books "Edge of Eternity" or "Safely Home" or Ted Dekker's Black, Red, and White series. Of course there's the original work of Christian fiction, the classic "Pilgrim's Progress."

back to top