Piloting his 747, Rayford Steele is musing about his wife Irene's irritating religiosity and contemplating the charms of his "drop-dead gorgeous" flight attendant, Hattie. First Irene was into Amway, then Tupperware, and now it's the Rapture of the Saints--the scary last story in the Bible in which Christians are swept to heaven and unbelievers are left behind to endure the Antichrist's Tribulation. Steele believes he'll put the plane on autopilot and go visit Hattie. But Hattie's in a panic: some of the passengers have disappeared! The Rapture has happened, abruptly driverless cars are crashing all over, and the slick, sinister Romanian Nicolae Carpathia plans to use the UN to establish one world government and religion. Resembling "a young Robert Redford" and silver-tongued in nine languages, Carpathia is named People
's "Sexiest Man Alive." (This reviewer, a former People
writer, finds this plot twist plausible.) Meanwhile, Steele teams up with Buck Williams, a buck-the-system newshound, to form the Tribulation Force, an underground of left-behind penitents battling the Antichrist.
Ex-presidential candidate Pat Robertson briefly outsold Michael Crichton with his apocalypse novel The End of the Age (now available on audiocassette), and the similar The Third Millennium sells well, but the Left Behind series is the absolute champion in the race to make the Book of Revelation into racy thriller reading. --Tim Appelo
From Library Journal
Pilot Rayford Steele is flying his 747 to London and contemplating whether or not to commit adultery when a flight attendant gives him some frightening news. Some of their passengers have disappeared into thin air, leaving only their clothing as a sign that they ever existed. After the flight crew does a head count, they realize more than 100 people are missing. One passenger still on the plane is reporter Buck Williams, whose recent experiences and witnessing of some strange events in Israel have led him to rethink his own lack of religious faith. As word comes that the entire world is suffering from disappearances, as well as horrifying natural disasters, Steele and Williams soon realize they, and the rest of the world, are experiencing the "Rapture of the Saints." This biblical story foretells that true believers will be taken into heaven, while sinners and nonbelievers must remain on earth as punishment for their lack of faith. The two men join to form the Tribulation Force, a group of those left behind who are dedicated to fighting the antichrist. While the book is riddled with cardboard characterizations and creaky dialog, those flaws are less apparent in the audio version. Jack Sondericker's smooth narration and calm inflection make the novel's often over-the-top message seem much more believable. Recommended for fans of this popular series.AMelissa Hudak, Centegra Health Syst., McHenry, IL
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