4 out of 4 stars
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Life was good for Jason Stevens who was twenty-three and had worked as a computer hacker for the FBI since he finished high school. It wasn't unusual for him to be the last one to arrive for Sunday dinner at the family home. As he rushed into the dining room, the aroma of his mother's pot roast lingered in the air. There was just one problem; no one was there. All that remained in each family member's chair were their clothes and jewelry. It only took Jason a minute to realize why his family had disappeared. Under the Manger by H.D. Barnett and Jeffrey J. Wamboldt is the suspenseful first-person narrative of life after the worldwide disappearance of Christians, commonly known as the rapture.
Jason's parents and three siblings were devout Christians and had urged him to commit his life to the Lord. Remorseful that he hadn't taken their advice seriously, he prayed for forgiveness and guidance. Jason knew his parents had invested in preparing for the end times described in the Bible. Though his father had been the CEO of an oil company, and his mother was a rocket scientist for NASA, they were also preppers. Sure enough, he discovered a packet of instructions leading him to an abundance of provisions on the family's large Texas estate. His parents had not only provided for him but also for those who would need his help. Humbled and determined to make better choices, Jason purposed to use his FBI skills to help others.
As a fan of the popular Left Behind series which had a similar plot and was extremely well-written, I confess to being slightly skeptical when I started reading this book. I was pleasantly surprised when I found it hard to put down. Though many of the characters were introduced only through Jason's memories, they were well developed, and I felt like I knew them.
The plot was quick paced and well researched. Without exposing any spoilers, the authors' foresight in the careers given for Jason's parents made certain aspects regarding the plot more believable. I realize there is some controversy as to when the rapture will occur. However, though the ending implied a sequel, this book didn't focus on a particular doctrine.
What I liked most about this book was the skillful combination of biblical prophecy and suspense. Again, I don't want to give away any spoilers, but there were several miraculous occurrences in the plot. I've read other Christian fiction where the miracles seemed forced, or there was a chapter of scripture explaining them. That wasn't the case with this book. There were scriptural references, but they often were presented as part of a conversation. Also, the violence that was realistic to the plot was minimal and wasn't graphic, which I appreciated.
What I liked least about the book was the rather idyllic portrayal of the world in crisis. In all fairness, there were realistic depictions of sorrow and chaos related to the plot. However, the sheer abundance of provisions and real estate available to Jason and his friends was contingent upon the family's wealth, which wouldn't apply to everyone.
I didn't note a single grammatical error, and I'm pleased to rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I'd recommend it to those who enjoy Christian fiction, and fans of the Left Behind Series. Readers who don't appreciate Christian teachings may prefer to pass on this book.
Under the Manger
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