Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
The Indwelling: Jerry B. Jenkins & Tim LaHaye, January 6—19, 2014
My rating: ♦♦♦◊◊
The Indwelling spans just a couple of days in the immediate aftermath of Nicola Carpathia’s murder, and marks the beginning of the Great Tribulation – the point at which things go from rather bad to actually quite awful.
To have an entire novel dedicated to the few days between Carpathia’s murder and his funeral should have been an absolute gift, giving us an intense and dramatic instalment. Instead, The Indwelling is crying out with missed opportunities.
We return to Left Behind with Carpathia – Antichrist, leader of the world, arch villain – dead on a live TV broadcast with our regular heroes as potential suspects. And in their infinite wisdom, the writers start off not there, but with Leah hanging around for ages in a prison waiting room hoping a guard might let her visit Hattie. And so begins what is largely a complete non-event. Given the significance of Carpathia’s murder, it is disappointing that the reaction from the GC, the public and the Trib Force is largely overlooked.
The unmasking of the killer is awkward too. It’s made obvious to us long before the dots are connected, and even then there’s no dramatic reveal, more of a gradual understanding. The penny drops slowly and quietly for the characters, and it’s an anti-climax.
Away from New Babylon, and Tsion’s dream sequence is also clunky and odd. It’s placed strangely within the narrative and interrupts the flow of action. The initial scenes are inoffensive, but the dialogue between Tsion, Gabriel, Michael and Lucifer is contrived and uncomfortable.
While the plot and writing are weak, the character drama is still good. Rayford’s on-going leadership and personality crises come to a head in a satisfying way, while Chloe embarks on her own remarkable development as she straddles motherhood and faith. It’s at the grittier end of the scale and well worth the attention it was given. Although it came out of the blue, it’s an interesting grey area that will hopefully be explored further.
Chaim continues to be an interesting character, and he manages to provide theological challenges amongst the lightweight truisms from the others that verge on platitudes. He exemplifies the crucial difference between belief and acceptance, and throws up some challenges for co-stars and reader alike. He even manages to lighten the mood now and again.
Increasingly, Left Behind is becoming populated with one-dimensional clones who hover around the core Trib Force. More than once I was left scratching my head trying to work out who people were and where they came from. Especially outside of the States, the hangers-on seem to have no personal relevance but instead serve as plot devices with birth certificates (even if they are probably fake). More needs to be done to flesh out the supporting cast, or streamline the roll call.
There are, however, exceptions. The brash pathologist was a terrific guest star, and Guy Blod has perhaps become the greatest ever Left Behind character. Hilariously pompous and gold dust with David Hassid, he was a shining light of The Indwelling.
Although this instalment turned out to be more of a transition from Tribulation to Great Tribulation, and from Carpathia to Indwelt Carpathia, there remains promise for a strong follow-up.