Sunday, January 17, 2016

Book Review: Left Behind: The Kids: Underground

(Reclaimed from Blogjob, where it was tagged: Christian conversion story,interpretations of Bible propheciesnovels of suspenseserial fictionTim LaHaye’s Left Behind seriesyoung adult novel.)

A Fair Trade Book
Title: The Underground (Left Behind--The Kids volume 6)
Author: Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
Authors' web sites:
Date: 1999
Publisher: Tyndale
ISBN: 0-8423-4326-1
Length: 111 pages
Quote: "Vicki wanted to talk to Shelly about God, but each time...Either Shelly was busy or Shelly's friend had barged in and stopped the conversation."
It may be hard to remember or imagine now but, in my younger days, many people did not expect to live through the year 2000. Though not likely to die or be outrageously old in 2000, right up into the 1990's these people expected the biblical apocalypse to occur before 2000.
The year 2000 came and went, and here we still are, although the loss of friends during the present century has left me with reasons to think along two not entirely pleasant lines: (1) I should have picked younger and longer-lived friends, and (2) it does often seem that "The Rapture" has removed most if not all of the good people from this world. Not in the dramatic, inexplicable way Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins described it in Left Behind, but one by one, quietly...
Anyway, their Left Behind series for adults, though hastily written and not praised by critics, was a huge bestseller. Cashing in on the success of the series of bulky hardcover novels for adults, Jenkins and LaHaye added a series of slim paperbacks for high school students. Each volume ended with an incomplete, perils-of-Pauline resolution, designed to motivate readers to read the next volume.
Each series dealt with the adventures of a small embattled group of newly converted Christians living through the horrors of the biblical apocalypse. There are different schools of interpretation of how that story might play out; in the Left Behind series, all the lifelong Christians have disappeared in "The Rapture," leaving the world unevenly divided into a minority of new converts and an overwhelming majority of mean, selfish people obeying the leader of the "Global Community," Nicolae Carpathia, who has special, supernatural abilities to become a global dictator because he's "the" Antichrist, the Devil in human shape.
(Nonchristian readers can be confused...not all Christians believe that there is or will necessarily ever be one Antichrist, so much as that there are antichrist tendencies in people and ideas. Interpreting the Bible's prophecies is a very controversial aspect of Christianity. Entire churches just don't go there.)
Anyway, in volume 6 of "The Kids," four students called Judd, Vicki, Lionel, and Ryan are looking for other new Christians at their school, though aware that the Global Community may punish them for doing so. They decide to circulate an underground newspaper. If they're caught, they'll be punished, and in this book one of them gets caught.
Parental guidance necessary? Minimal. This series is stark and grim, since we know from the beginning that its happy ending is the end of our world. Everybody's in mourning from the beginning of the story, and more characters die along the way. In The Underground the four main characters aren't in danger of dying, but one of them will be sent to reform school. No sex, no onstage violence, several prayers and Bible references, and a conversion story make this series one that children of sabbatarian Christians are likely to be allowed to read on Sunday (or Saturday). Children who are "too young" for Left Behind: The Kids probably just won't read it.
You can get it cheaper, but if you buy this book from this web site by sending $5 per copy + $5 per package + $1 per online payment to either address at the bottom of the screen, Jerry Jenkins or a charity of his choice will receive $1 per copy. You could probably get all 24 volumes of the series into two packages, for a total of $130 (U.S. postal money order) or $132 (Paypal), from which Jenkins or his charity would receive $24.