The End is Now
Goodland, Kansas, is just a dot on the map, a place where everybody knows everybody and life is simple. But many residents of this peaceful farming community know a secret about their town that makes it unique in all the world. Someday, Goodland will be used as a test market for the rapture. God will see how it all plays out in Goodland before bringing true believers worldwide into heaven and hurling the seven-year tribulation down on Earth. It is a belief that has been passed down in this small town from generation to generation, until one night when a boy receives a message from God in a cornfield. No longer will the residents of Goodland have to wait for the end to come, for THE END IS NOW.
Twelve-year-old Will Henderson just wants to get home on time for dinner. It’s his only goal as he takes the forbidden shortcut through a cornfield, quickly losing his way and sense of direction. Surrounded by cornstalks, Will witnesses a miracle. The corn forms a face, and the face gives him a message as he listens, remarkably calm considering the circumstances. When his father, Jeff, and a search party discover Will hours later, they are shocked by Will’s air of authority as he delivers the message. There will be three signs coming to Goodland before the rapture. Will tells them to look for the first sign in three days, when his school will be destroyed. He does not know the details, nor is he able to tell them the other two signs.
Goodland slowly starts dividing into believers and nonbelievers. That division becomes a wall of separation on a clear, sunny day, when a tornado suddenly obliterates the school. To many, Will becomes a prophet. To others, the prediction and tornado were mere coincidence. And to Jeff, the whole situation means he has to protect his family from the craziness taking place in Goodland as his son becomes the center of attention. Even more so when the second prophecy occurs in a way that shocks the community.
In the midst of the chaos, Will’s mother Amy shows unwavering support for her son, believing him from the start. Until now, she had been convinced her life as wife and mother was God’s plan B for her. As a high school student, she had dreams of becoming a missionary until she became pregnant. Her missionary dreams, along with Jeff’s college plans, went down the tubes as they got married and struggled to support their daughter, Emily.
Now a high school senior, Emily isn’t sure what to make of her brother Will’s predictions or the arguments between her parents. The whole “rapture thing” is getting in the way of her plans to become Homecoming Queen. Even when her father gets arrested, the town erupts into riots and looting, and Will gets kidnapped, Emily’s focus on being crowned Homecoming Queen remains steadfast. But when her moment of high school glory arrives, Emily is nowhere to be found.
THE END IS NOW quite simply has everything a Christian fiction book should have: a great storyline with a unique premise, characters with whom the reader can relate, and an unpredictable ending that ties everything up just enough. Readers will enjoy the various character perspectives as the Henderson family and townspeople work through this unprecedented state of affairs. Author Rob Stennett does a fine job of creating realistic responses by believers, nonbelievers and those caught somewhere in between. I highly recommend THE END IS NOW, Stennett’s second book, and suggest readers also check out his debut novel, THE ALMOST TRUE STORY OF RYAN FISHER.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on June 16, 2009