In Richard Spillman’s The Awakened, readers find a world in which Lazarus, the man Jesus raised from the dead as recorded in John’s gospel, is still alive. Lazarus is joined by other people whom Jesus resurrected since that time. They call themselves The Awakened, and they have formed an organization called SOAR to fight against the “UDs”—people who have been resurrected after death by demons. Readers track Lazarus’s journal entries about his memories of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. Some of these attempts to roll away the stone from unknown parts of Jesus’s life can feel forced. Yet this story is set in the modern day. Characters use advanced technology and events break in many different parts of the world, making this biblical fiction also resemble a Tom Clancy thriller.
Best for: Discerning adult readers.
Discern: Violent elements, such as terrorist attacks, murders, and one character who is molested as a child. Readers may also challenge story elements, such as Jesus asking Lazarus’s forgiveness for raising him from the dead, or reflections of a shallow gospel that emphasizes mankind’s goodness.