Published by Tyndale on September 1, 2014
Genres: Christian, Fiction, Speculative
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The Remaining is a novelization of the apocalyptic movie from Sony Affirm. Just after a young couple says their vows, the earth shakes, and some people die suddenly and are taken away. The rest of their wedding party and friends are left to wrestle with what happened and with their faith. Characters struggle with secret love, dreams, hopes, and beliefs as they continue to evaluate their faith. This book and movie are both action-packed thrillers that will encourage audiences to think about their beliefs.
Quick. Name an upcoming movie based on one interpretation of the biblical End Times.
If you said Left Behind, well…you’d be right. But it’s not the only one. In September, Sony Affirm will be releasing The Remaining, an apocalyptic thriller that takes a bit more of a character-driven and condensed approach to the End Times than its more famous counterpart.
And while Left Behind made the move from book to movie, The Remaining is playing the game the opposite way, going from movie to book and getting the ever-versatile, always-up-for-a-challenge Travis Thrasher to write it. The result is a page turner that deals with the theology at a distance, instead choosing to focus on personal nature of the apocalypse. At its heart, The Remaining is a character-driven, intensely relational novel about people thrown into incredible circumstances and seeking to survive and make sense of it all.
The story itself begins right before a wedding with a group of longtime friends who have gathered together to celebrate the marriage of two of their own. But the celebration is shattered when a number of the guests suddenly drop dead and it soon becomes clear that the phenomenon is worldwide.
The initial reaction is panic. Panic and fear. And with the world coming undone, so do the personal lives of all these friends involved. Now, not only do they have to survive, they have to figure out how to come to grips with their troubled faith.
Normally, I wouldn’t draw direct contrasts between two novels in a review of one of them, but since Left Behind has been such a genre-defining epic, you can’t help but evaluate any other Christian apocalyptic thriller in light of it. While LB is character-driven, its length and style allow it to focus more broadly on the genre’s theological setting. In The Remaining, the focus is not specifically on the Rapture or the Tribulation, though those words are talked about; instead, the focus in on the immediate problem of the now. In that sense, The Remaining comes off as less preachy than LB. Further, while LB had the luxury of taking time to go through the whole Tribulation period (and then some), The Remaining focuses on the day of and after the Rapture, condensing some prophetic timelines in favor of an immediately looming supernatural foe.
Thrasher chose to the write the story in present tense, switching between characters, almost as if he’s doing a dramatic reading of a movie (which, actually, come to think of it, he is). That style lends toward the urgency and immediacy of the moment as emphasized in the storyline. I’d also be amiss to not compare The Remaining to one of Thrasher’s previous books, a little novel called Admission that similarly focuses on a group of friends trying to find the pathway to redemption. If you’re a fan of the apocalyptic genre or just a fan of a character-driven story, you’ll want to pick this one up.