GLORIOUS APPEARING is one of the most highly anticipated books of 2004. The previous book in the Left Behind series, ARMAGEDDON, left readers with a cliffhanger --- both of the two last original Tribulation Force members were injured, and one was dying. And for those who have been following this series, this book brings the incomparable thrill of the arrival of Jesus.
How many people are waiting to see what happened? Well, by now many of you have heard that 2.9 million copies of this book have been printed. Clearly there will be some late nights logged reading this book in the next few weeks.
Those who eagerly read the pre-publication excerpt opened this book are still wondering which of the original Tribulation members survived. Yes, even the opener had a cliffhanger. Thus when I grabbed my copy of the book this mystery was the first that I wanted to unravel. Who died, Rayford Steele or Buck Williams? No, I am not going to tell, but this is the last feverish trial the Trib Force will have, as this book brings security and peace to those who had been Left Behind.
The cover design even breaks the tradition with the jacket design of other titles in the series. Instead of the distinctive black background and brightly colored title, this cover is white and gold, giving it a celebratory look and feel. Everything associated with this book confirms that the tone here is different.
Over the past years these books were filled with tension, fear and an overwhelming sense of devastation, heartache and loss. For those who have allied with the Trib Force over the past seven years there is relief as Jesus arrives and rewards those who had faith --- or found faith.
Watching --- I mean reading about ---- Nicholas Carpathia on the run with Leon Fortunato right behind in the Valley of Megiddo can get a reader cheering and flipping the pages. The confrontation between Jesus and the False Prophet and the Antichrist shows justice meted out swiftly and distinctly. Jesus also deals with Satan in just as brusque a manner. It's punishment that is administered with great precision. The humbling of each of these three players will get a crowd on its feet.
The pages do read like a movie script --- a script that sees meaning everywhere. The gathering of the clouds, the earthquake and the light in the sky all portend that the arrival of Jesus is near. As each happens, the anticipation builds.
One note --- when people are awaiting the arrival of Jesus, the tone loses plausibility. It's like people are waiting for the Super Bowl or a World Series game to start. They talk about Jesus with all the excitement of fans waiting for an opening play. I pictured that moment with more reverence.
In the past I have had issues with Jenkins' dialogue, finding it to be stilted and wooden. This is the first book in which I am reading more emotion and feeling in the writing. The sections that show Jesus speaking to the crowd are powerful vignettes. When the Believers hear Jesus talking directly to them in their native tongues, I see more personalization than in previous books. The direct quotes from Scripture for the dialogue of Jesus give his words thundering authority.
While many times we tell people that they can jump in at any point in a series, in this instance we are cautioning readers not to start with this book. At least read the first Left Behind title before you pick up this one. You need to see the setup. You need to see the story unfold before you see it wrap. You need to feel the pain, so you can appreciate what the joy is about.
I am not sure there will ever be another series like this one. It's been one long ride --- and a very successful one. People who know me well are surprised how wrapped up I became in the story. The series worked for me because it came from two writers who clearly believed what they were writing about. And wanted to share it. Sincerity in a world where so much is insincere scores major points with me. Readers of this book will not be disappointed.
Reviewed by Carol Fitzgerald on March 30, 2004