Having found out the truth behind the disappearances, Rayford, Buck, Chloe, and Bruce, who make up the Tribulation Force must prepare for the years ahead-and bring as many people to Jesus as possible before time runs out. With the world's future uncertain, a previously unknown Romanian UN delegate named Nicolae Carpathia has stepped to center stage with talks of peace and world unity in light of the mysterious vanishings. Bruce suspects him to be the Antichrist because of the way the world is swayed in his direction. Buck begins to see more evidence of this as he witnesses the rise of the Global Community, who is dedicated to Nicolae's causes. More Biblical prophecy is fulfilled through the appearance of two strange bearded men at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem who seem to have the power of God at their fingertips. But in the midst of all this, Buck cannot keep his mind off of his new friend Rayford's daughter, Chloe. Even though she is ten years his junior, he feels an attraction to her. The question is, are the End Times an appropriate time to start a long-term relationship? As the world moves further and further away from God, other things seem more important.
The biggest factor that distances Tribulation Force from Left Behind in a good way is the better character development. Another factor in this second installment's higher rating and Elite List placement is its realistic end. Yet one other factor kept this book from being all that it could be, namely five stars.
Buck, Chloe, and Rayford developed more personality in this book than they had in the first installment. They did not become perfect just because they became Christians, which is a good thing. Bruce Barnes is the worst character so far because he is still playing the perfect mentor role. He is a stereotypical character because he always has a Mother Teresa way of going about things, not to mention he is an expert in End Times prophecy. He only serves to degrade the character department. The interesting thing about Nicolae Carpathia is that in this situation, his being a typical villain is justified. While the character development could be better, the authors have definitely improved their character development skills.
The authors continue using Biblical prophecy in the correct way-by creating imperfection instead of keeping all the special characters alive. However, romantic subplots are not avoided. The courtship of Buck and Chloe is at least realistic and serves to bring out their personalities. However, it was completely unnecessary to introduce a romantic subplot for Rayford-especially in the last one hundred pages of the book. The end of the book is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. Its strength is a key character death that occurs as a product of one of the judgements. Its weakness is that a love interest for Rayford suddenly materializes without any previous character development or background. In the span of about ten pages, Buck and Chloe and Rayford and Amanda are engaged and married at the same exact time each. While the union of Buck and Chloe was eminent and almost unavoidable under the circumstances, Amanda was an unnecessary character to bring into the series.
All in all, Tribulation Force is better than Left Behind. One can only hope that the series continues this pattern of getting better with each installment.