Monday, August 09, 2004

Silenced (Jerry Jenkins): A Review

"Silenced" continues the story of Paul Stepola and offers a continuing vision of the future after World War III. Religion is outlawed. Christians are persecuted for simply claiming to believe. Paul Stepola was one of the top guys in the National Peace Organization and was very good at his job at finding, and rooting out underground Christian groups. This was until he was blinded during a raid. Stepola had continued to research the New Testament to better understand what he was up against, but with the held of a new friend, he was moved by the Bible and became a believer, and had his sight restored. If this sounds familiar, it mirrors the story of Saul/Paul of Tarsus from the Biblical book "Acts of the Apostles".

"Silenced" begins with Paul continuing to work in the NPO as a double agent, giving intelligence to the underground believers while trying to maintain his cover. He is unable to tell his wife that he is a Christian for fear that she will turn him in or tell her father (an even higher ranking member of the NPO). This would lead to death, for professing faith in Christ is treason to the world government.

Paul's task is to find a "Christian terrorist" named Styr Magnor. Magnor has claimed responsibility for the incident which somehow instantly removed all water from Las Angeles. This is a blessing in disguise for Paul because while Paul knows that the L.A. incident was the result of prayer and the action of God, he does not believe that Magnor is a part of the Christian Underground. Rather, Magnor has been committing murderous acts throughout the world, bombing major landmarks and killing hundreds, and this is the antithesis of what the Christian Underground is about. Stopping Magnor will do two major things. First, the NPO is suspicious about Paul's true loyalty, and stopping Magnor will be a major proof of loyalty. Second, Styr Magnor's actions are making all Christians look bad, and they are already treasonous for believing in God.

Stepola is headed to Europe to discover who Styr Magnor really is, and to stop him. He is also there to make contact with the Christian Underground over there and do what he can to help the European believers.

Jerry Jenkins started this "Underground Zealot" trilogy with a surprisingly good volume in "Soon". With the strong start to the series, and no idea where exactly Jenkins is going with it (except, perhaps, the ultimate end of the story), I was looking forward to "Silenced". It is written in the typical Jenkins way. It is very easy to read, and fast paced, but it is also clunky and simplistic in the presentation of the narrative. Readers of the "Left Behind" books will know exactly what to expect in the style of writing. It is so easy to read, and fast paced, that many readers will not be put off by Jenkin's overly simplistic style. Judging by the sales numbers of "Left Behind", it may be a fair assessment.

My one true complaint is that "Silenced" took a while to get going with the story. Sure, the book was as much about Paul's wife Jae's spiritual journey as it was about Paul, but after reading "Soon", and with the starting premise of this book, I expected more…especially with the subtitle "The Wrath of God Descends". There was a lack of God's wrath in this book, which was disappointing.

Still, Jerry Jenkins knows how to end a book. The last third of "Silenced" was worth the price of admission, at least for someone who enjoys his work. Not to sound cliche, but the ending actually earns the term "explosive". Jenkins builds and builds and just when the reader is tired of the building, he lets it all out and the action truly begins. It's exciting, and it gets the reader interested in the next volume of the series. That's a good thing, but it also feels like Jenkins could have done a better job at making the first half to two thirds of the book more interesting and exciting.

After "Soon", it is a bit of a let down, but what an ending.


Anonymous said...

The only real disagreement I have regarding your review is your statement that there isn't much wrath released from God. How about the ending? How much more wrath can you expect, with the death of every firstborn son of all non-believers? That's about as wrathful as God has ever been, with the exception of the flood. Otherwise, your review is dead-on! Good work!

Joe said...

I did mention the ending as the one impressive part of the book. But when the subtitle is "the wrath of God descends" and then for 300 pages there is no wrath, it seemed like false advertising. Jenkins does a good job ending both "Soon" and "Silenced" and there is some wrath in both endings, but otherwise the wrath is somewhat lacking. That's fine, but "Silenced" advertised some wrath on the cover.

Joe said...
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Joe said...
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