Left Behind: The Mark Review–Part 5

Previous parts

Page 152 has a merciful view on forgiveness: Albie says to Hattie, who is now a believer, remorseful over things she did to the other members of the Trib Force, but not wishing to have to go over them all again,

“A wise man once counseled me that apologies must be specific, but now that I am a believer, I am not sure I agree.  If your friends know that you are sorry, deeply remorseful, and that you mean it when you apologize, I expect they will forgive you.”

[Hattie] “Without making me rehash everything so they’ll know I know what I did?”

Albie cocked his head and appeared to be thinking.  “That doesn’t sound like a born-again response, as Dr. Ben-Judah would call it.  Does it?”

She shook her head.  “That would be like rubbing it in.”

Of course, it isn’t quite that easy, because the Trib Force is angry at Hattie and (since Hattie talks to Chloe on the phone before the announcement is made) doesn’t realize she’s a believer now.  They forgive her, yet still get annoyed at her.

On page 159, Hattie goes to speak to Rayford as he pilots a helicopter. She puts “a hand on each of his shoulders,” then “let her hands slip to the top of his chair.”  Hmm–is Hattie getting friendly with Rayford again now that she’s saved?  Could there be a third marriage in the future for Rayford?  Lucky duck….

On page 165, we meet Viv Ivins, a family friend of Carpathia’s, like an aunt to him.  She wears dress suits, teases her blue-gray hair “into a helmetlike ball,” and–oh no–she wears sensible shoes!

For a female character in this series to care about her arches more than silly foot-killing fashions, she must be eeeeeviiiill!  Which doesn’t make any sense, but seems to be the case.  Remember, Verna Zee also wore sensible shoes.

On page 177, we find that “Hattie was getting on everyone’s nerves.” We’re not told how she’s doing this.  So even though she’s saved now, she’s still getting on everyone’s nerves?

On page 186, finally, we have a mission for the Tribulation Force: “stymieing Carpathia where possible and winning as many people to the kingdom as they could.”

The new Supreme Commander, Hickman, says on page 192, “You know how [Carpathia] talks, never usin’ contractions and like that.”  Eh?  No, I never noticed, and his sentence that Hickman quotes–“maybe I will show them–” works better that way, anyway.  It seems odd to bring attention to it here.

On page 205, the GC has been putting guillotines around the globe to go along with the biochips, “marks,” to be put on everyone’s forehead or hand.  They don’t expect much defiance.

But how can they be putting up these guillotines without losing the loyalty of the people of the world?  Where are the protests, the Jon Stewarts, the Stephen Colberts, the pundits on FOX?  You don’t have to be Christian or Orthodox Jewish to find these guillotines abhorrent!

I do like Hannah Palemoon, a new believer introduced into David’s life, and her sense of humor.  She’s a nurse, the type to make fun of your wounds while treating them, but without offending.  Since David’s fiancée was just killed by Carpathia’s lightning strikes in the last book, and Hannah seems to have a little thing for him, I wonder if they’re meant to be a couple in a later book….

Then I get to page 268, yet another meeting between some of the Trib Force people.  ARGH!  These books are mostly endless committee meetings rather than action!  You know what that’s like when it happens at work; imagine the same thing happening in a book you read.  Do we really need to witness all the decision-making?  Can’t we just watch how things actually play out?

On page 271, Buck tells Albie about the guillotines:

“That’s one of my sidebar stories, how easily they can be assembled.  They’re simple machines with basic, pattern-cut parts.  Each is basically wood, screws, blade, spring, and rope.

That’s why it was so easy for the GC to send out the specs and let anybody who wanted work and had the materials to have at it.  You’ve got huge manufacturing plants reopening to mass-produce these, competing with amateur craftsmen in their backyards.”

Er…Yeah.  Just what you’d expect from a guillotine.  Such gripping prose; I bet Buck’s readers were on the edge of their seats.  😛

Makes me long for the scene from Image of the Beast with Patty at the guillotine (starts at 6:00).  Now that’s an impressive scene, especially from a Christian movie (Christian movies, especially from that time period, tended to be poorly produced, poorly acted, etc.).

And you know the Left Behind series is dragging when you begin longing for the Thief in the Night series, of which Image of the Beast is part, and thinking how exciting it is, how suspenseful, when you begin to hold it up as the gold standard for Rapture/Tribulation movies.  Because the Thief in the Night series is really, really bad.

At least in the “Thief” series, when you’re traveling with the characters, you’re going somewhere, getting character development, and the like.

In the “Left Behind” series, on the other hand, on page 272, Albie–disguised as a GC commander–calls over a GC Peacekeeper (who’s directing traffic) and asks her for directions to the main detention facility.  Then we get,

“Well, they’re all together about three clicks west.  Take a left at your next intersection, and follow the unpaved road around a curve until it joins the rebuilt highway again.  The center will be on your right, just inside the city.  Can’t miss it.  Massive, surrounded by barbed wire and more of us.”

Wow.  6 lines of directions we’ll never need to a place we’ll never drive to.  And we couldn’t possibly have known that a jail would be big, surrounded by barbed wire and guards.  Why not summarize these things, say Albie flagged down an officer, got directions, and found the jail? The lack of editing in these books is astounding.

On page 279, we find still more blindly obvious descriptions of the detention center:

…the complex of five rather plain, industrial buildings that had probably once been factories.  The windows were covered with bars, and the perimeter was a tangle of fence and razor wire.

We get full descriptions of a jail which looks like any other jail or prison camp we’ve seen on TV and in the movies, with nothing remarkable about it.  Yet when we need to know what the characters look like, normally we get nothing except one or two details–hair color and drop-dead gorgeous, or looks like Robert Redford–which really don’t say much.

On page 297, a bunch of teen prison girls are being herded over to get the mark or death.  (Insert “cake or death” jokes here if you like.)  One of the girls clarifies that if your choice is the mark or death, then you really have no choice.

And on page 298, Buck muses that the girls didn’t really know what they were choosing, that it wasn’t between loyalty and death, but “between Heaven or Hell, eternal life or eternal damnation.”

Which is why this whole premise is problematic, that if you take the mark in these books, you are irrevocably condemned to Hell.  Doesn’t the very act of choosing require that you know?  If you don’t know, then how you can be irrevocably condemned for it?  Isn’t God more merciful than that?

To be continued….

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