A dictionary-definition specimen of preaching to the choir, and one that begs yet another question: Is it unkosher to be so...

BRINK OF CHAOS

If you use Jesus as a character in a novel, do you have to pay him royalties?

It’s not spoiling the story—it’s all right there in the latter pages of the New Testament—to reveal that in LaHaye and Parshall’s (Thunder of Heaven, 2011, etc.) latest exercise in fundamentalist fiction, the brink of chaos of the title inaugurates a time when every good person on the planet can be found “worshipping and singing to the One who had ransomed them. Their Champion. Their Lord.” There’s no need to ask who the capitalized Person in question is. If you’re one of LaHaye’s legion of followers, then you won’t need to ask who supersecret agent Joshua Jordan, he of the double Old Testament moniker, is either. Jordan’s brief in this latest is to thwart the ambitions of the very, very bad secularists in power (“Let me tell you, those folks in power, including our president, really are bogeymen”) and the even worse secularist who is rising to attain world rule: “His global regulations against climate change,” the authors tell us, “have industries around the world being monitored by his environmental police.” Of course, in the fun worldview of the apocalyptic set, there’s no such thing as climate change, and anyone who hampers the desire of a corporation to do whatever it wants to is an agent of the Antichrist. When Jordan isn’t chasing after this impeccably groomed baddie, he’s jetting off to the Middle East to prep the world for the end of days. That’s work that can make a person tired, and Jordan’s wearisome banter is a mark. As with formula fiction since before the dawn of time, no one in these pages ever speaks like anyone in real life does. But why would they need to, when they’re floating rapturously up into the clouds? 

A dictionary-definition specimen of preaching to the choir, and one that begs yet another question: Is it unkosher to be so ham-fisted?

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-310-31881-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Zondervan

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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