Monday, February 1, 2016

Surprised by Left Behind: The Kids #36

At some other point in time, I’ll discuss WHY I’m reading the 40-book Left Behind: The Kids series. But for now, let me discuss a number of surprisingly good moments I found in Book 36, “Ominous Choices.”
I understand that the phrase “surprisingly good” is a backhanded compliment. Let me say that I am not criticizing the technical skill of Chris Fabry, the actual writer of the young adult series. He did a very good job weaving recognizable events from the main Left Behind series into early books in his series, keeping the timelines of the two series consistent.
But what I’m referring to here as “surprisingly good” are events that I was genuinely surprised to find portrayed in a YA book published more than a decade ago by an evangelical publishing house. For example, there is a childbirth scene that is not graphic by any means, but is more specific and realistic than I was expecting to find.
But the biggest surprise was the resolution of the situation that one of our lead characters for the entire series found himself in. Lionel became pinned under a large boulder, and after many prayers for his rescue, he went “127 hours” on himself and cut off his own arm. In a series where angels regularly perform miracles, and many character were praying for Lionel’s rescue, this resolution is surprising.
During Lionel’s ordeal, Judd searched for aid for his friend, and ran into a kindly doctor who helped him, despite having pledged his allegiance to the Anti-Christ. Judd shared the gospel with the man, and he was moved by Judd, but he did not respond by accepting Christ. In fact, he responded by killing himself.
These situations each show a theological subtlety that is rarely if ever displayed in the prior 35 books in the series. The specific acts portrayed also depart from the highly sanitized books that preceded this one.
I wonder if with five books left in the series, the editors decided to “let things go.” Or perhaps Fabry just decided to push the borders a bit, again knowing that only five books were left in the series. However and whyever this change happened, I hope it continues as the series moves towards its conclusion.

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