Friday, June 26, 2015

Book Review: Earthquake

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Earthquake (Left Behind: The Kids: Volume 12)

Author: Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye

Publisher: Tyndale House

Date: 2000


Length: 138 pages

Quote: “At first Ryan thought he heard a train. But there were no tracks near Vicki's house.”

What's there to tell you about this book? Everybody remembers the surprising success of the Left Behind series of novels based on one of the multitude of possible interpretations of Bible prophecies about the end of our world. The series was written for and about adults, but when teenagers became interested, the authors quickly added a tie-in series of shorter, all-paperback novels featuring teenage characters.

I bought several volumes of "Left Behind: The Kids," secondhand, after the teen and adult stories had concluded in Glorious Appearing. The series is pretty much as you might expect. Not badly written so much as hastily written. You know how it all ends. You know it's basically a melodrama about teenaged Christians who are really being persecuted, way worse than young readers for whom the worst consequence of trying to explain the Christian message to friends is that the friends won't be interested, yet in each volume at least one of the teenagers will explain the Christian message. So it counts as a Sunday School book while feeling more like a cliff-hanger melodrama. And there's not much sex, and although there is a lot of violence almost all of it's kept offstage, so parents aren't likely to forbid teenagers to read it.

Well...if all the active Christians on earth vanished in The Rapture, where would that leave a lot of potentially Christian but so far uncommitted young people? Missing parents, of course. And where would that leave them? Vulnerable to the evil “Global Community” coalition of would-be dictators who are now unopposed in their quest for total dictatorship over the world. A good modern “Global Community” has to “protect” orphans. So, by now Lionel is already in a Global Community reform camp. Judd is on the way to one. Darrion isn't personally in danger—yet—but her mother's Christian tendencies have roused the beast within the Global Community forces, and her mother has been falsely accused of murder and imprisoned.

When the big earthquake hits, Vicki is in a car with one of her teachers. Vicki survives. The teacher doesn't. Chaya and her father are trapped in the rubble of their home. Ryan is trapped in Vicki's home, all alone.

And this is only an installment. The plot does not really resolve. Things aren't going to get much nicer in this fictional world for several more books, and although one of the characters will succeed in converting somebody to Christianity in this volume, this is still one of those doom-and-gloom-and-horror stories “young adults” read to show their emotional toughness. It's not recommended to people with tendencies to anxiety or depression.

I don't usually like novels anyway, but a lot of people do, and a lot of them liked this series. A lot of professional Literary Types hated this series. When professional Literary Types hate a book, but masses of real readers love it, I think it's worth reading the book just to see what those readers see in it (if possible). I'm the book reviewer known for defending the literary merits of Gone with the Wind, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Stephen King. So I'll say that Jenkins and LaHaye did a good job, for a couple of solidly confirmed adults, portraying the haste and intensity with which teenagers bond with friends.

Most of those who wanted to read "Left Behind: The Kids" have already read it, but, if anybody out there still wants this series, or wants a volume to complete a set...they're Fair Trade Books. $5 per book, $5 per package shipped, and as they're thin pocket-sized books I'm quite sure we could send you twelve volumes of this series for a total price of $65. Jenkins' name appears first on these volumes (LaHaye's appears first on the adult series), so I'll arbitrarily say that, if you buy one or more volumes of "Left Behind: The Kids" by e-mailing salolianigodagewi @ yahoo.com, Jerry Jenkins or a charity of his choice gets $1 per book. If you buy one or more volumes of the original "Left Behind" series for adults, Tim LaHaye or a charity of his choice gets $1 per book--note that I'm not positive that more than two of those books would fit into one package.