Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Review: The Dead Rise First by Alton Ragan and Robert McLaughlin

About the book:

In the small town of Jordan, Oklahoma residents find themselves the victim of a shocking terrorist attack. A society so completely dependent on technology for its security and commerce has suddenly been turned upside down. Even worse than the uncertainty of their immediate safety is another problem that no one can explain.

People who have been dead for years are popping up all over town, appearing and giving witness that the Rapture of the Church is eminent but for the lost, the Great Tribulation. Who will listen to their message and repent and who will refuse to believe their own eyes?

Meet Jack, a pastor who is suddenly slapped in the face by what has happened and then baffled when he spots Sister Gregg, a former member of his church. The only trouble is the last time he saw the woman was at her own funeral. The town begins to shake at these events and as a church turns to their leader, Pastor Jack desperately searches for the answers he must give his congregation. How much time remains for people to repent is anyone’s guess, for Jack and his flock it’s a race to reach the lost.

The Dead Rise First is a fast paced, intriguing read for anyone interested in the Rapture. This book brings something new to readers and is provoking discussion among scholars with this one question: why do the dead rise first? Although purely fiction, the events are based on scriptural answers that unearth a new understanding concerning the rapture of the Church. Does it reveal a mystery about how God will raise the dead in Christ as seen in 1Thess. 4:13-14? Will it be the same way Jesus resurrected in Matthew 27:52-53? You decide.

My thoughts:

Let me be honest here....self-published books always make me nervous.  I haven't read many, but every experience I've ever had has always been less than stellar.  In spite of that, I decided to give The Dead Rise First a chance.  When I first read the description of the book, I was immediately reminded of Terri Blackstock's Restoration Series that deals with the whole world being thrown on it's end by an EMP (electromagnetic pulse). The world was in total chaos because nothing electronic would work--no electricity, no phones, no tv, nothing.  Now, combine all that happening at the same time as dead people walking all around, except they don't look dead.  It's not difficult to see why I was so intrigued to read this book.

Overall, I'd say it was a good story.  It had a good pace and likable characters, and at the same time, the authors provided scriptural information to get their message across.  That's not the norm in most Christian novels that I read, but I found that it worked here.  At one point, I actually got out my own Bible to search out the truth for myself, and well as reference a few other verses that weren't mentioned in the book regarding the Rapture and the dead rising first.

But as with any self-published novel I've come across, there were a few issues.  The first one had to do with the lack of editing, which seems to be common.  There were several passages I needed to reread to understand what the authors were trying to say because either something was misspelled or there was a problem with the punctuation. 

The other problem I had didn't appear until the last 1/4th of the book.  Now, I know most Christian novels have a mix of Christians and the unsaved.  However, that should not give the author free reign to insert whatever language he/she wants into that non-believer's mouth.  I don't want to read that someone didn't give a rat's...(insert curse word)...about anything.  I also don't want to read "h-e-double-toothpicks" in any way except for the place it represents for the unsaved.  Both of those examples appeared at least 5 times in this book, if I counted correctly.  For a Christian novel, it's completely inappropriate to use this sort of language.  Most authors think this makes their unsaved character(s) more believable to show them acting and talking in a worldly manner, but if I wanted to read that kind of language, I'd go pick up a secular novel.  This is the first time I've ever gone on such a rant about this, but it's sad that it's actually becoming a trend in Christian fiction.  Major Christian publishers (not just the self-published) are printing these novels with bad language in them, and I hope and pray that this is not the future for this genre.

*Coming down from my soapbox*

With all that said, I have mixed feelings about recommending this novel.  While the story was good, the language issue will keep me from passing this book on to a friend.  I just can't do it in good conscience.  If there is a second novel in the works, as is indicated at the back of the book, I hope the authors will rethink what is included as well as the audience they are trying to minister to.

3 Stars

**Many thanks to Hamby Media for providing a copy for review.

**Click here to visit the authors' website.

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