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A wide variety of characters, an intriguing plot with twists and turns made it entertaining and hard to stop listening to.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
At first I found the book a little hard to get into. It's called the Valley of the Dry Bones, a title that at once intrigued me, but like the title, it felt a bit dry and sterile to me at first. That may well be because the description of the setting was visually successful. I did indeed feel the dryness and desolation of the location where the characters found themselves. It may have been that I was put off by my imagination's ability to transport me to a place so desolate, and so unlike the green beauty of where I live.
It wasn't long though, before I felt myself sucked into the story by the amazing and expressive voice talents of the narrator, who really brought it to life. I'm not even certain that it was narrated by just one person. The authentic variations were so amazing, so realistic, and so true to the distinct personalities, individual voice inflections, geographical and cultural origins of each person. The depth, resonance, or shallowness of the central characters' tones, and even the gratingly obnoxious voice of their main adversary, reflected their nationalities, races, and personal backgrounds, in an extremely authentic manner.
The only departure from the realism of the narrator's expression of certain characters, came when he tried to mimic female voices. But it wasn't beyond my imagination to overlook that part and suspend my disbelief, so that I could hear the intent of their voices.
I hated having to put down my audiobook to go to dinner, which also meant I had to put down my paint brush and stop the mundane, and normally boring task of painting a project I wasn't terribly enjoying to begin with. The funny thing is, because I was listening to the book while I was painting, I found myself actually looking forward to my boring job, and couldn't wait to get back to work, because it meant getting back to the story. I liked that the story wasn't extremely long, and didn't give me a painfully long period of time to become bored and irritable as I waited for it to wrap up with a satisfying conclusion.
I was reasonably pleased with the conclusion, though again, I thought it was overly simplistic. It was not quite what I was expecting or hoping for. I was anticipating more drama, more edge-of-your-seat tension and insurmountable challenges for the characters to overcome, and that never materialized. It was one of those things where good things happened to the good guys at the end, with few obstacles or lessons learned, even though I secretly wished for a positive outcome for the sakes of the characters. Yet at the same time, I actually wished that the drama of the characters' impossible dilemma would drive the story forward and deeper, with a greater challenge to overcome, before reaching a satisfying ending.
Overall however, I found the story satisfying, with an interesting premise, set in a time preceding the Great Tribulation. For some reason, I originally thought the actual Tribulation period itself was the setting of the story. At least this pre-Tribulation perspective allowed for more flexibility, more creativity in certain ways, and a look at possibilities which could very well come to pass in my lifetime, provided God grants me a long life. It made me think about how real people, in real life, might be able to survive serious crises such as those faced by The Holdouts in the story.
With special thanks to the narrator, I can say unequivocally, that I was extremely impressed by the entire performance. His amazing voice talents brought the story to life in a way I might not have experienced in print.
Just one more note on the story itself: As a Christian, a part of me really appreciated all of the scripture references, and that they were read in a way that explained a lot of what was happening. On the other hand, it felt a little heavy-handed and made the story feel a bit preachy, as if it was aimed at a non-Christian audience, for the express purpose of proselytizing them.
I also think that it may have over-explained things that might have been explained in other more effective and realistic ways. People may very well speak in scriptures in the end times, under the circumstances described throughout the story. After all, new believers and long-time believers not well-schooled in the scriptures, would have a multitude of questions about what was happening in the world and to them, personally. Jenkins needed, in some way, to answer those questions biblically and accurately, and had I tried to write the same account, in my own way, I couldn't have accomplished a realistic story, integrating that much scripture, effectively, myself.
I guess in some ways it brought the story more to life. Because it was giving background in a present-tense situation, it explained why people thought and did the things they did. It seemed to ignore the "show, don't tell" rule though, in ways. I felt it disrupted the story, distracted me a little from my focus on the story itself, and made me feel more like I was in a Bible study, than experiencing a true-to-life crisis in the end times, shortly preceding the tribulation.
I had an expectancy of an even greater urgency, intense secrecy and fear, among the Hold Outs while at the same time, an unexplainable aura of peace filled the Christians in the midst of a world gone mad. I didn't quite feel this experience if Mr. Jenkins was endeavoring to impress it upon the reader.
Something about the point of view of the story held me at arm's length, whereas, I would have liked to feel closer, more personally present, as though experiencing it for myself.
All criticism aside, if I'd had to write the same story myself, I definitely could not have done it, if at all, nearly as well as Mr Jenkins did. I give it a thumbs up. It's worth the read.