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    Review of APOCALYPSE UNLEASHED by Mel Odom (see his website)


    Tyndale Fiction, October 2008

    A third of the Earth's population, including every child under thirteen, has vanished. Some claim that this is a sign that the end times are here, that God took those who'd accepted his love to heaven. Others seek to use the unrest for gain--or conquest. US Rangers in Turkey are under attack by Syrian forces--and lack the air support and numbers they need to survive. Meanwhile, local warlords and bandits are everywhere. Sgt. "Goose" Gander tries to stand against the attacks, to help those innocents whom he can, and to come to grips with what's happened. His commanding officer, Capt. Remington, sees Goose's popularity as a threat to his leadership--and to his intended rise in the military. He's put Goose in postion to be killed, but Goose seems not only to survive, but to become more of a hero--thanks partly to the reporting of spunky Danielle Vinchenzo.

    Although Goose's efforts in Turkey don't seem to mean much in the deteriorating world God's rapture has left behind, he's actually at the focal point of major efforts. A sinister leader, Nicholae Carpathia has used his charisma to become Secretary-General of the United Nations. He's willing to send UN troops to back up Remington's US Rangers, but his goals don't seem quite in tune with those of Goose and his fellow soldiers. Even more than Remington, Carpathia sees Goose as a danger. Also a danger--the secret agent who penetrated the Syrian terrorist organizations and believes he's found a link between them and Carpathia himself.

    Author Mel Odom (see more reviews of thrillers by Odom) writes a fast-paced thriller. While Goose tries to stay alive and work within his own system of honor, the world is falling apart. Back in the States, Goose's wife and step-son struggle with their lives--and with the knowledge that Goose might die at any moment. Their lives are complicated by the fact that Goose's son vanished--and his wife had been, at least temporarily, suspected of kidnapping another child. Capt. Remington is a surprisingly complex and sympathetic antagonist. He and Goose entered the army together and while Remington entered officer training, he still sees Goose as a good soldier and a friend. Still, his ambition makes him susceptible to Carpathia's offers.

    APOCALYPSE UNLEASHED is published by Tyndale, and targets the Christian rather than secular reading market. As such, it sometimes bogs down into discussions about whether ordinary Church attendance is sufficient, or whether a more personal commitment to God is required. Secular readers may choose to skip through these. I would also have liked to Goose's ultimate decision at the end of the novel to have been more of an existential leap--as well as a physical journey. I doubt, however, that the target audience will be bothered by these--indeed, that might be a key part of their enjoyment.

    Odom writes great action scenes. For me, APOCALYPSE UNLEASHED really came alive when Goose was battling warlords, Syrians, and CIA assassins. It was a hard book to put down.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 11/01/08

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