In The Valley of the Dry Bones, Jerry B. Jenkins overlays the ancient End Times prophecies of Ezekiel onto the landscape of modern California. After a 17-year drought, multiple earthquakes, and uncontrollable wildfires, the state is desolate. The United States President declares the state uninhabitable and irreparable, directing California’s 39 million citizens to relocate. From the air, California looks like a vast abandoned sand box, but to a few groups of people, it’s their home. With less than 1% of the population remaining in California at their own risk, the holdouts encounter a clash of cultures, ethnicities, religions, and politics that pits friend against friend with the future of California at stake.
I hoped for great things from The Valley of the Dry Bones despite the limited information available regarding it. On the back of the book it said, “The leader of The Holdouts becomes convinced he’s heard directly from God himself,” and, “The result is a finish you’ll never forget.” On Worthy’s website, there’s also a mention of terrorism. I presumed I would get a book that built in suspense until there was a powder keg of an explosion at the end.
In the notes I made while reading I’d written, “Starts slowly.” On reflection, however, I think the prologue is probably the paciest part of the entire novel. There’s an accident which becomes a tragedy, and an innocent child’s testimony. The narrative then moves four years ahead and then another six years, and what happens immediately after the accident is only revealed later through conversation between the characters. There’s a lot of conversation between characters and what isn’t revealed in those exchanges is given to the readers via backstory.
I wanted this book to be so much more than it is. I wanted tension and excitement. But I found the writing to be bland, without seasoning. I put the book down at one point, and was reluctant to pick it back up. I actually read another book before I resumed reading. There was no change in tempo, even during scenes which should’ve been exciting, and little to flesh out the characters. I had to do some external research to understand a conversation about another religion because I was unable to join the dots the way the characters apparently did. It began to get interesting towards the end, but the actual ending was anticlimactic and I was left wondering what the point was. The Valley of the Dry Bones could’ve been the start of a fascinating series, especially if it had been fleshed out more, but the one page epilogue makes clear that this novel is a one-off.
Thank you to Worthy Publishing for my complimentary copy of The Valley of the Dry Bones, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
Have you read The Valley of the Dry Bones? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Worthy Publishing
Publication Date: 31 May 2016
Page Count: 336