A Guest Review by Andrea
Review Summary: An amazingly poignant book which left me emotionally wrecked.
The Christian rapture occurs and the now soulless bodies of Christians are left to terrorize all those left behind. TJ flees across Texas with his best friend, Ryan, and the remnants of his family, hoping for happiness, struggling just to survive. As they trek farther and farther South toward the coast, TJ and Ryan find comfort and love with one another. Their relationship is tested and they labor to stay alive and stay together in a world that God has unfortunately started to pay attention to.
There are only a handful of books, out of the thousands I’ve read, which have had a deep impact on me. The Dead Will Rise First was one of them. No matter how many times I tried to come up with a meaningful and concise description for this book, I just couldn’t do it. I eventually realized that the author says it better than I ever could, here is what he says:
Foremost this book was written to be an entertaining satire and I hope you enjoyed it. However, it was also born of the tragic death of a friend who killed himself after struggling to cope with an opposing identity and religion, and as such, it represents the war within a person as he searches for purpose, God, and love. It is a story about the human condition, and I hope it helps people not feel so alone.
Before I get into my opinion of the book, you should know something about me. I avoid religion based books like the plague. When I pick up a book, I want to be transported and see into someone else’s life. I do not want to be preached at or feel as if my lifestyle is being condemned by an author. As much as I was intrigued by the blurb, I was more than a little worried about the religious tone it would take. If you share these concerns, you have no reason to worry. Religion is a large part of story, but it’s because the characters are questioning their core religious beliefs. At the center of this book is a group of young adults who have been condemned by religious zealots for their beliefs, choices, or actions. The characters don’t all converge on one definitive truth, it’s more about everyone finding what is right for themselves.
If you are looking for an erotic romance or need a HEA ending, this is probably not the book for you. If you are up for a darker read, this may be right up your alley. The soulless Christians left on Earth are hell-bent on causing as much pain and terror on the remaining people as they can. TJ and the group he is traveling with are constantly faced with murders, rapes, torture, and dismemberment. It is bloody and it is graphic.
Now that I’ve reassured everyone about the religious tone, and warned others off because of the bittersweet romance, I’ll tell you what makes this book so amazing. The path TJ finds himself on is a journey of self-discovery which I will never forget. He is faced with trying to understand how the love and hope he feels for Ryan, which feels so pure and right, could possibly be the reason for him being condemned by God. He had already been questioning everything he was raised to believe before the rapture. Now, he is trying to decide if he was wrong to ever believe in any of it in the first place. God was supposed to be loving, but if the state of the Earth is any indication, this God is vicious and cruel. Why would he want to follow a God like that?
The greatest, most powerful part of the book is something I can’t even mention without ruining the book for you. I will say this, the final message filled me with both hope and despair. The afterward did even more to bring the entire tale full circle. I was dumbstruck when I closed the book. I think I was in shock when I finished it. It took a full 15 minutes for me to process everything I was feeling. Trust me when I say that this book is absolutely amazing!