Review of Without Warning

President Harrison Taylor just saw firsthand that all the whispered warnings about how far ISIS would go were true – from inside a metal cage. He heard the screams of the children in the night. He watched as nearly an entire special forces unit was decimated with sarin gas during his rescue.

He knows Abu Khalif, the apocalpytic psychopath behind all of it, is just licking his chops.

At least, he should know.

As J. B. Collins observes the president during his eloquent address to an adoring nation, his heart sinks. Rather than dig in his heels to stop at nothing to stop Khalif, President Taylor appears ready to get boots off the ground the moment he’s saved face.

The President asks J. B. Collins to rise. No matter that the president is ticked with him. They both know Collins deserves the spotlight after his heroic rescue months earlier.

Thwump. 

Thwump.

Thwump.

What comes next is no surprise to Collins, who’d just warned the peacenik POTUS of imminent danger.

For us readers, though, it’s the ride we’ve been waiting for since the end of The First Hostage, when we left J. B. gazing out the window at the fighter jets accompanying him to safety.

In a Nutshell

When J. B. Collins rescued the President of the United States from ISIS forces intent on bringing about the end of days, the nation believed it was a resounding victory. The president keeps saying it – “ISIS is on the run. Victory is ours. The cowards are in the death throes.”

Only Collins seems to remember the promise of Khalif to raise the black flag of ISIS over the White House.

With approval ratings through the roof, Collins knows President Taylor is irritated to be warned of the clear and present danger that, if anything, is growing.

That’s the opening. I refuse to spoil the book for you, but I tell you this: You need to read this book. If you haven’t already read The Third Target and The First Hostage, you’ll want to start there. There’s time, too – Without Warning doesn’t hit the shelves until March 14, 2017.

And don’t worry if you aren’t a fast reader. With these books, you’ll be a fast reader. The pages just…turn.

My Impression

Joel C. Rosenberg has grown as a writer. While I’ve long enjoyed his books for the compelling accuracy he employs, his ability to keep me on the edge of my seat has deepened into an art. The writer side of me often found myself pausing to savor the technique – something I usually reserve for Thoene books.

This book rivals some of the best I’ve ever read.

Why?

It speaks to me. Repeatedly. I see myself in President Taylor, and I wonder if I’m too concerned with what people think. I see myself in Yael, and I realize that the best career in the world can’t match the satisfaction of caring for those you love. I see myself in J. B., wondering if I’m crazy to try to make a difference when I’m the least likely person.

It grips me. This line says it all: “J. B., have you completely lost your mind? What, you suddenly think your initials stand for James Bond? Jason Bourne? Jack Bauer? You’re going to get yourself killed.”

It ends well…without warning. It was one of the most satisfying, moving endings I’ve read in a long time. But I never saw it coming.

The Big Test

Without Warning, above all, accomplishes its spiritual mission. As the world goes up in flames, J. B. continues on his quest to find Khalif while evading the faith of his brother.

I don’t know when I’ve met such a sympathetic character. I feel bad even calling him a character – he seems real. He’s a New York Times star who wants a great story. He’ll break stories from Twitter, if necessary. As a wannabe writer, I totally get him.

He knows – down to the day – how long he’s been sober. He’s trying so hard. On so many levels he’s on the outside, looking in. He’s missed his family. He misses Yael. He’s still reeling from his divorce years ago.

As the story pressed in on him, he changed from a sympathetic character on the brink to a strong person facing unimaginable odds and surviving. I understand that’s what’s been happening throughout the series, but this book ratchets it up a bit. From physical danger to moral temptation* to career jeopardy, J. B. is forced to face his own limitations.

You can’t not like him.

He’s friends with Egyptians, Jordanians, Israelis, and U.S. VIPs. He’s touched by his nephew memorizing “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” even though he’s not yet willing to think about his need for the Saviour who said it. There’s preaching without preachiness. Never did I want to just skip to the action. It’s interwoven, and it’s good.

If you’re the type who’s typically scared off by “Christian books,” then you’d totally get Collins. If you’re the type who’s scared of by people who are scared off by “Christian books,” you need to meet J. B. Collins.

You can’t not like him. Get this book.

Thank you, Mr. Rosenberg, for following God and letting Him use you. I pray that He greatly uses this book to bring revival and save souls. It’s perfect for such a time as this.

It was such an honor to get to review this book, and I thank Tyndale wholeheartedly for providing the free copy and the opportunity. 

*This book does contain a scene that pushes the limits of propriety. While absolutely nothing happens, the scene serves to show how resolute Collins is about his choices. If you’re a reader who wouldn’t read the story of David and Bathsheba, or if you prefer to not read about tempting situations, you might want to skip this book.

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