Author: Byron Justice
The following review was contributed by: Mary Simmons: Click Here To Read Mary's Reviews: To read Mary's Interview With the Author CLICK HERE
"Let both of them grow together
until the Harvest;
and at Harvest time I will tell the reapers:
Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles
to be burned,
Then gather the wheat into my barn."
Drawing from these words attributed to Jesus Christ in the Gospel of
Matthew, author Byron Justice relates his vision of a post-Apocalyptic world
in his debut novel, 'Violent Night.'
The story begins just prior to the Harvest and then follows the members of a
youth group as they make their way through a changed world after it has
The world is then split into three dimensions: The Forsaken World they leave
behind, The Place of Judgement where they journey in near isolation and The
Other Side, where they find peace. Lightning acts as a gateway between the
This book is not titled 'Violent Night' for no reason. In the second
chapter, two murders occur and this is only the beginning of the violence
described throughout the ensuing pages. At times it can be quite graphic and
is not for the faint of heart.
This violent behaviour is most notably evident in the character of Buster
Murphy, who appears to take pleasure from killing. He is spurred on by his
father, Mitch, who raises him to be ruthless. As Justice says, "Buster was
the glorious fruit of his father's fine upbringing."
The impression is not that Justice condones all violence, but that he
acknowledges it as a natural part of man's psyche. He says it is when hate
is allowed to grow that heinous crimes are committed; fighting is a way to
release that hatred and anger and come to forgiveness.
Although I wanted to touch on the violent aspect of this novel, it is by no
means overpowering, rather it is balanced by other elements which propel the
story forward. It is full of adventure and suspense with meaty,
well-developed characters with whom readers will identify. The fact that the
majority of these characters are young - still teenagers attending high
school before the Day of Reckoning - makes them that much more vulnerable
You will find yourself rooting for them - especially Jeff,
the youngest member of the group, who decides not to travel to The Other
Side with the rest in order to go back to The Forsaken World to find his
mother. His encounters in The Forsaken World are ugly and vicious, made all
the more disturbing by his lack of ability to reach out to the Lord anymore;
His presence is no longer there. This made me realize how fortunate we are
to have a loving Father we can turn to in times of despair. We should not
take this for granted or we may find ourselves without him someday.
In 'Violent Night' Justice has created a novel which follows the highly
successful 'Left Behind' series into the rocky territory of exploring one of
the most controversial books of the Bible. Revelations is full of imagery
and portents for the future and is highly subjective when interpreted.
Having said that, Justice's interpretation takes us where 'Left Behind' did
not - to The Other Side with those who were able to make the leap of faith -
and is definitely worth taking the time to read. It will make you question
your own beliefs and that is always a good thing.