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"You're not alone. You're never alone."
Charlie West has held on to that belief, but now he's starting to wonder. He went to bed one night an ordinary high-school kid. When he woke up, he was wanted for murder and hunted by a ruthless band of terrorists. He's been on the run ever since. Now he's stuck in prison, abandoned by his allies, trying desperately to stay a step ahead of vicious prison gangs and brutal guards. And a flash of returning memory tells him another terrorist ...
"You're not alone. You're never alone."
Charlie West has held on to that belief, but now he's starting to wonder. He went to bed one night an ordinary high-school kid. When he woke up, he was wanted for murder and hunted by a ruthless band of terrorists. He's been on the run ever since. Now he's stuck in prison, abandoned by his allies, trying desperately to stay a step ahead of vicious prison gangs and brutal guards. And a flash of returning memory tells him another terrorist strike is coming—soon. A million people will die unless he does something. But what? He's stuck in a concrete cage with no way out and no one who can help. Charlie has never felt so alone—and yet he knows he can't give in or give up . . . not with the final hour ticking away.
“A thriller that reads like a teenage version of 24 . . . an adrenaline-pumping adventure.” —TheDailyBeast.com (review of The Last Thing I Remember)
Most people have to die to get to hell. I took a shortcut.
I was in Abingdon State Prison. Locked away for a murder I didn't commit. Waiting for the men who were coming to kill me. With nowhere to run.
It was the worst thing that had ever happened to me.
I'd been there for two weeks. Two weeks of smothering boredom and strangling fear. When I was locked in my cell, the minutes seemed to lie like dead men, to decay like dead men—so slowly you could barely tell it was happening. When I was out in the exercise yard or in the cafeteria or in the showers, there was just the fear, the waiting. Waiting for the killers to make good their threat, the words one of them had whispered in my ear as I stood in the dinner line one night:
You're already dead, West. You just don't know it yet.
Alone in my cell, I stared at the tan wall. I felt a black despair surrounding me, closing in on me. I did everything I could to fight it. I did push-ups. I read my Bible. I prayed. The prayer gave me some comfort, some relief.
But then the buzzer would sound, loud and startling. The cell door would slide open. A guard would shout from the end of the tier:
Then the waiting and the fear would begin again.
Where was Detective Rose? I wondered desperately. I hadn't seen him since he'd arrested me, since he'd rescued me from the terrorist cell called the Homelanders and led me away in handcuffs. Rose was the one official who knew who I was. He knew I'd been planted in the Homelanders by Waterman and his agents. He knew I'd let myself be framed for the murder of my friend Alex Hauser so the Homelanders would believe I was bitter and could be recruited. Rose was one of Waterman's agents too—at least, I thought he was. I told myself he must be working behind the scenes to clear my name, to win my release. I told myself he would come for me. Any day now. Any day.
But the killers came for me first.
I was in the exercise yard. It was a large square of dying grass and broken asphalt. It was surrounded by a fence topped with barbed wire. The fence was surrounded by a high concrete wall. At the corners of the wall there were guard towers. In the towers there were men with rifles, watching our every move.
Here, below, on the grass and asphalt, the prisoners moved in their gray uniforms. Some were in shirtsleeves, but most wore gray overcoats and black woolen watch caps to ward off the snow-flecked cold. Each coat or shirt had a white strip with the prisoner's number on it sewn over the left breast. Each had the prisoner's name stenciled over the right breast. Other than that, they were all gray.
The men's faces, on the other hand, were black and white and brown. Their eyes were hard and watchful. There was rage and meanness and fear etched into the tight lines of their cheeks and foreheads. They gathered around the benches and free weights on one corner of the asphalt or played basketball on the half-court, or played catch on the grass or just walked and talked or just sat and stared.
Guards moved among them, men in blue shirts and black pants. They carried no weapons, just heavy walkie-talkies hooked to their belts. The guards watched the prisoners, but the prisoners didn't watch the guards. The prisoners watched one another. And some of them, I knew, were watching me, waiting for their chance to attack.
I was on one of the weight benches. I was doing presses with a light bar, not trying to bulk up or anything, just trying to keep the flexibility and speed I used in my karate training. The men all around me were going for the big-muscle stuff, lifting hundreds of pounds. They worked in grim silence. Whenever I dared to steal a glance at one of them, they looked like pretty nasty pieces of work. White guys with shaved heads and thick arms and chests. They had Nazi swastikas tattooed on their biceps and on their foreheads. A couple of them had Christian crosses tattooed on them too. How they thought those two symbols could ever go together—a symbol of hatred and a symbol of love—I didn't know. I'll tell you what else: I wasn't about to ask. They didn't look like the types of guys who would enjoy a good theological conversation. They looked more like the types of guys who would enjoy punching me repeatedly in the face until I lost consciousness or died. That sounded like it would be more fun for them than for me, so I kept my mouth shut.
When I finished my workout, I moved away from them. I wandered to the edge of the crumbling basketball court, glancing this way and that to make sure no one was coming after me. I stood by the court and watched the game, feeling the cold air dry the workout sweat on my cheeks and neck.
The game was three against three. They were good players. Rough, fast, with accurate shots from anywhere near the key. They swirled back and forth in front of me in a shouting gray cloud of motion. They elbowed one another in the face, and jostled one another shoulder to chest as they fought for position under the board.
One guy broke through and went airborne, jamming a dunk through the hoop. As the teams reset, I took another nervous glance over my shoulder at the yard behind me. But this time, something made me pause.
The guards. Suddenly I didn't see any guards. The blue shirts that usually passed among the gray uniforms had vanished. I felt an instinctive clutch inside me, a flash of something like panic. Where had they all gone?
The next moment, the killers struck.
There were three of them. They were black men. In prison, the Muslims were mostly black. They weren't your regular everyday Muslims either. They were hate-filled radical Islamists.
The Islamists had heard about me through the grapevine and on the news. The word was I'd betrayed the Homelanders, a group of Islamo-fascists who recruited disgruntled Americans to pull off terrorist attacks on our home soil. The Abingdon prison Islamists had vowed they'd take vengeance on me. They'd see to it that I was punished for trying to protect my country. This was their time.
The first one came at me with a shiv—a knife he'd made by sharpening a piece of hard plastic he'd smuggled out of the cafeteria. He strode up to me from the right and drove the point in low toward my side.
I caught the motion out of the corner of my eye. I swung around fast, blocking with my forearm, blocking instinctively with the reflexes I'd developed during all those years of training at the dojo. Those reflexes saved my life—for the moment anyway.
My forearm hit the killer's arm. The plastic shiv sliced in front of me, missing my midsection by inches. Off-balance, I managed a weak kick at the attacker's leg. It hit him high, above the knee, and only knocked him back a step or two.
Then the others grabbed me from behind.
There were two of them. Big, strong. I never got a good look at them. I just felt their breath on the sides of my face. Each one grabbed one of my arms, wrapping his own arms around it, holding it fast. They pressed their bodies hard against me, blocking off my legs with their legs so I couldn't kick again. I couldn't move at all. I was helpless.
The man with the shiv came back for me.
I got a good look at him now. He was enormous, tall and broad-shouldered, with huge muscles that pressed through the prison grays. He had a long, thin face that reminded me of a wolf 's face. His eyes were bright with wolflike hunger and bloodlust.
He grinned as his friends caught hold of me.
"Hold him," he told them. Then he said to me, "Now you die, traitor."
I tried to pull my arms free, tried to kick out with my legs. It was useless. The men who held me were too strong.
The man with the shiv stepped toward me, the sharpened point aimed at my stomach.
I had only one more second—just enough time to realize I was about to die—just enough time for that information to flash red-hot through my brain.
Then the man's wolflike face filled my vision, blotted out everything else. There was nothing but his grin and his eyes.
But all at once, his eyes flew up, went white, empty. His grin vanished and his mouth dropped open, slack. He staggered back away from me. I saw his legs go wobbly. I saw his knees buckle.
He collapsed onto the grass with a hollow thud. The plastic shiv fell from his limp fingers.
What just happened?
In the terror of the moment, I couldn't make sense of it. Then I could.
One of the Nazi musclemen—one of the thugs who'd been with me by the free weights—was standing before me where the wolf-faced man had been. His fist was raised, a stone gripped in it. He had stepped up behind the Islamist assassin and clubbed him in the back of the neck.
The next instant, the two men holding me were ripped away, as if they'd been caught up in a tornado or something. Some swastika-tattooed musclemen had grabbed them, too, dragged them off me. As the men fought back, more of the Islamists were running to the scene to join the fight and more of the Nazis too. Another second and hate-filled men were battling other hate-filled men back and forth across the grass. There was the crack of fists on bone. Blood flying through the air. Grunted curses and ugly names. Men down on the ground rolling over and over one another, trying to gouge one another's eyes or clutch one another's throats.
It all happened in a second. I stood, dazed, at the center of the chaos.
I thought: This is hell. It must look just like this in hell.
Now the guards in their blue shirts seemed suddenly to reappear out of nowhere. They rushed into the melee of gray uniforms, wrapping arms around prisoners' throats to pull them apart, hammering at their heads with the edges of their walkie-talkies, kicking at them as they rolled around in the dirt and on the asphalt.
Shouting and striking out, the guards drove the Nazis and Islamists away from one another, forcing them into opposite areas of the yard.
It was all over as quickly as it had begun. I hardly had time to register what had happened, to compute the fact that this prison feud had saved my life. One hate group had fought off another hate group and somehow the result was that I was still standing, still alive.
Still alive—but my troubles were far from over.
Because, now, across the grass, the Yard King was coming.
That's what they called him: the Yard King. His real name was Chuck Dunbar. He was the corrections officer in charge of the prisoner recreation area, the chief guard of the exercise yard. He wasn't a big man, but he packed a lot of nastiness into his thick five-foot-seven frame. He was squat and broad and had a face like the business end of a fist, all mean and knuckly. His headquarters was a place the prisoners called the Outbuilding. It was a grim, featureless cinder-block box that stood in the farthest corner of the yard. Dunbar spent most of his time in there, doing whatever it was he did. But when there was trouble—or when he wanted to start trouble—out he came. The sight of him was always bad news for someone, because the Yard King was a man who liked hurting people.
And right now, he was coming straight at me.
He barreled forward with his peculiar rolling walk, his lips twisted in a snarl, his fists clenched by his sides. His eyes were pale, almost colorless, but they seemed to burn as if they were lit with white flames.
Another second or two and he was standing in front of me. The rest of the guards lined up on either side of him. The Yard King glanced to his left and to his right.
"Get this con garbage back in their cells," he growled.
Instantly the guards started moving, started screaming at the prisoners, striking out at them and herding them toward the prison doors. The men moved sullenly, their gray shoulders hunched. They cast wicked glances at one another, muttering threats through the gaps between the guards.
I started moving, too, figuring I was supposed to go back to my cell as well.
But Dunbar stepped in close to me, blocking my way.
"Not you, lowlife," he said. He had a voice like a rake on gravel. It seemed to rattle inside his throat as it came out at me. "You're the one who started this."
"Me?" I blurted out. "I was just standing here. That guy tried to kill me. He had a knife. He ..."
The Yard King hit me in the face. He used the back of his hand, snapping it fast at my cheek. My head flew back, my thoughts rattled.
"Shut up," Dunbar said. "Don't lie to me."
I rubbed my bruised cheek. It didn't seem like a good idea to answer him, so I didn't.
Dunbar smiled, his eyes flashing. "How could anyone have a knife in the yard?" he asked me. "If someone had a knife in the yard, that would mean they'd gotten it past one of my guards. That would mean there was something wrong with the way I run this place. You think there's something wrong with the way I run this place, punk?"
I went on rubbing my cheek. I went on not answering. But that wasn't good enough for the Yard King.
This time, when he struck out at me, my hand was in his way and blocked the blow. But I still felt the jar of it.
"I asked you a question, lowlife," Dunbar said. "You think I'm not doing my job right? You want to file a complaint with the authorities?"
I tried to think of something to say. But all I could think of was the way things used to be, the life I used to have. I flashed back on how things were when I was at home. I thought of the way my parents and pastors and teachers and my karate instructor Sensei Mike would always tell me to tell the truth no matter what. It seemed like only yesterday I was back in that world, and yet it seemed like a million years ago. Back there, back home, there weren't any guys like Chuck Dunbar—or if there were, I didn't know them and they didn't have complete and total control over my life. Back home, it was easy to say, "Tell the truth no matter what," when "no matter what" didn't include a guy who would gladly break every bone in your body and never pay a price.
Still, I didn't say anything. I couldn't think of anything to say.
Dunbar smiled again, a weird, dreamy smile full of cruelty and a sick pleasure in cruelty. "Charlie West," he said. My name sounded pretty bad when he spoke it, like the name of some kind of slimy creature you wouldn't want to find crawling on you. "You think you're pretty special, don't you, Charlie West? I watch you. I know you. You think you're something better than the rest of us."
"I don't ..."
He hit me again, not hard, just enough to make me shut up—and shut up is exactly what I did.
"You're nothing," Dunbar said, his pale eyes gleaming. "You're not even nothing. You're a piece of garbage blowing across the yard. I'm going to teach you that, West. I'm going to make it my special mission to teach you. I'm going to make it my hobby, my pastime. From now on, the slightest thing you do, the first wrong move, the first wrong word that comes out of your mouth, I'm taking you into the Outbuilding."
I stood up straight when I heard that, my heart clutching with fear. The Outbuilding. Every prisoner in Abingdon knew what that meant. The Outbuilding was where the Yard King took you when he wanted to teach you a lesson, when he wanted to work you over hard, with his fists or with a club. Tucked away in the shadow of the yard wall, the building was only partially visible from one of the guard towers. Once you were inside, no one could see what was happening to you and no one would ever tell. It was the heart of the Yard King's sadistic kingdom.
"Now, I asked you a question, garbage," he said. "How could a con in this yard have a knife when I'm in charge of keeping the place safe? You think I'm not doing my job, garbage? You think I made a mistake? Answer me."
I know: I should have answered him. I should have just lied and said no. I should have said, "No, sir. You're doing a great job." I should have said, "There was no knife, sir. There couldn't have been a knife, sir. Because you don't make mistakes, sir."
That's what I should have said. But somehow ... as far away from home as I was ... somehow I just couldn't forget what my mom and dad and Sensei Mike had taught me. I couldn't force the lie up out of my throat. It stuck there, sour and disgusting. All I could do was stand and stare into the fistlike face of this cruel, sick little man.
Dunbar grinned. "What are you waiting for, garbage? You think someone's gonna help you? No one's gonna help you. Not in here. In here, you're all alone."
Excerpted from THE FINAL HOUR by ANDREW KLAVAN Copyright © 2011 by Andrew Klavan. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted June 15, 2012
Posted February 2, 2012
Best series and books ive ever read in my life i absalutely loved it perfectly planned it really hooked me from begining to star
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Posted December 3, 2011
Charlie West is in prison, and not just some juvenile detentions center. He¿s in Abingdon State Prison, a high security prison for the vilest offenders. And between the prisoners and the brutal guards, it looks like Charlie might be someone¿s next victim.
But his memories are slowly coming back, and Charlie learns that a terrorist strike is coming soon. He has to do something, but what? No one will listen to a convict, all his allys are gone, and time is ticking away. But Charlie can¿t give up. Not when lives are at stake.
Loved it! And I closed this book with a smile on my face, because these four novels really felt like one big story, and it was tough to wait for each next one. I loved the way Andrew Klavan told this tale, how he weaved it backwards and forwards with action and memories and mystery. It was very cleverly done. This is a GREAT series for boy readers. So if you love action and adventure novels, or if you¿re looking for some books for a young man, look no further. This is the series. I highly recommend all four Homelander books.
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Posted September 29, 2011
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Posted April 21, 2012
Highly recommend. Would especially appeal to a teenage boy, but I'm 70 years old and loved the entire series! Very relevant to the times we live in. (I'm going to buy the hard book series for my grandson.)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 4, 2012
Posted October 20, 2011
Book 4 in "The Homelanders" series, The Final Hour, follows Charlie West on his final desperate attempt to save one American city from the terrorist group he had sworn to take down. Although only a teenager---one whose reputation had been destroyed and whose memory had been erased---Charlie finds himself in the beginning of Final holed up in Abingdon prison for crimes he only sort of committed, with inmates who murder and guards who do no better. Charlie may not survive prison life, but he must: his memory is returning in flashes, and at one point he realizes that he alone knows not only the time but also the location of the largest attack ever devised by Prince and his terrorist group, the Homelanders. Can Charlie get the message to Rose, his protector? Can he do it in time? And will his family and friends ever know that all he has done, all he has sacrificed, he did for them? for his country?
This youth fiction (touted by some as TV's 24 in book form and for kids) is a fast-paced action novel that puts the lead teenager in some very adult situations, and its entertainment factor certainly rates high among teens and youth-at-hearts. Published by Thomas Nelson, some might consider this book "Christian," though the protagonist himself is not. The messages of the book, generally speaking, are not very Christian either. Charlie's sensei and mentor, Mike, is purported to be a believer, though throughout the book he is very silent about his faith and, when the opportunity for witness or evangelization presents itself, he seems to cower in the vagueness of "faith" and "hope." With his nearly-dying breath, he tells his student that the most important thing he could do to honor his death is to stop the terrorist---not give his life to Christ or join in the faith that he loved. Thus I found the protagonist's Christian "hero" to be ultimately weak and unappealing. Do not get me wrong: I believe that both faith and hope are the greatest benefits of my salvation in Christ Jesus, as probably Mike did as well. But when these two things stand apart from Jesus (i.e. there is no mention in Whom the faith and hope are), they are ambiguous and ultimately useless to the non-believing reader.
I do not believe that every Christian novel needs to be an evangelistic tool. But when the main character, the one with whom our teenage readers are meant to relate, is a non-believer, I think it ought to be the purpose of the author to bring that character at least towards considering the atoning work of Christ for his sins, not simply covering the main points of the plot without any mention of Jesus' name. I love clean fiction and would recommend this series to the youth in my life, but I would certainly hope that they would also see the weakness in the secondary hero of the book, Sensei Mike.
[I received this book free for review from Thomas Nelson Publishers]
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Posted September 13, 2011
The Final hour by Andrew Klavan is a gripping tale about a teenager woke up one day having his world crumbling beaneath him. This book is a part of Homelanders series, and I have to say that if you haven't read the books before this, you'd find it hard to understand what's going on with this book.
This book is not meant to be read as a standalone. Highly recommended for boys age 12 and up. Highly thrilling and exciting read. I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.
I received an ARC of this book from Thomas Nelson Publisher. I was not required to write a positive review for this and I was not compensated in any ways for this.
Posted September 11, 2011
Charlie West woke up one day tie to a chair in a torture chamber, no recollection of where he was at, no memories of his past year with people standing outside the door. This may seem terrible, but it got worse as this group, called the Highlanders, wanted him dead and the cops wanted him arrested for they believe he killed his best friend. He couldn't understand any of this until he met Mr. Waterman who supposedly knew all the answers, but did Charlie make it in time? As his memory returns through out the piece, explanations are forced upon us and intensity grows. Definitely as Charlie somehow figures out where the Highlanders plan to strike next. Can he stop them? Is it too much for him to take on his own or.is he alone for he stands by the saying "You are never alone"? He doesn't have much time and many lives are at stake.
The Final hour is a great completion to an amazing four book series by Adnrew Klavin. All the Highland books were nothing but fast past novels that only kept you wanting more as questions arose with every page turned, yet many more questions arise with the answers given. This book was not an exception as we followed the conclusion of Charlie Wests story as he searched for answers and release of his "forced life" in "The Final Hour." I believe this book, along with the whole series, is a great read for many children. It is filled with many moral, spiritual and just character building elements that should be mimicked by all. Honestly, the whole series took me a little bit to get into just for the fact its in first person, but Klavin doesn't allow that unique style from taking over your understanding of entertainment.
Posted September 1, 2011
Charlie West finds himself in a prison, accused of murdering his close friend Alex Hauser. A group of Islamic prisoners are out to kill him, while another bunch of hard-core ones save his life. He had infiltrated the Homelanders group, which is a dreaded terrorist group, plotting against USA. He has lost his memory thanks to medication, but has begun to get it in bits and pieces. He realizes that FBI has disowned him and no one believes his innocence or his double life. The only two people he can rely on are his karate master and the one FBI detective who knows him.
In one of his memory attacks, he remembers about a terrorist plot by the Homelander chief Prince, on New Years Eve in New York, which can potentially kill millions. The prison warden laughs it off. He now needs to somehow foil the plot, by hook or crook.
Does Charlie West succeed in it? This is what forms the rest of the novel.
The story unfolds at a steady pace and keeps the reader intrigued. Parts of the plot could arguably be unrealistic. But considering the contemporary nature of the plot, the reader can relate to it. I felt that it would have helped to read the earlier Homelander novels to understand the characters, especially Charlie West, better.
Posted August 9, 2011
For Charlie West, life has been far from simple or easy. It gets complicated even further when learns that that the terrorist group, the Homelanders, is nearing their huge attack on America. And the more he discovers about the planned strike, the more he realizes that he is the only one who can stop it. Time is of the essence; it all comes down to the final hour.
I admit that between my reading the third and fourth books, I did not go back to read the first and second. And unfortunately, it now looks as if it is too late. Any further inquiries on Charlie West's past are answered.
While this book certainly does not make my list of favorites, I did enjoy it much more than The Truth of the Matter, the third book. While many plot secrets are unveiled, I did not feel like it was spewing facts. There is plenty of action in the midst. However, the book was way too short. Even for a YA novel. The action doesn't even truly begin until the second half. I felt myself wanting to get into the story, wanting to like it. But there was simply way too little material for that to happen.
Posted August 4, 2011
This book starts with a bang and keeps going full throttle to the end. Action, action, action, it hardly ever lets up. The forth in a series that looks now to be done, is fast paced and hard to put down. I read it in one afternoon. I'm not sure if Charlie will ever be able to return to normal life, he is anything but a normal kid.
I think this is a great book for kids 11 and older, especially boys. Good values and the message that you are never alone are weaved in and out of these pages. God is always with you and will lift you up when you are sure you have nothing left to give. This doesn't deter the book from killing off very bad guys and from the main character wondering why him, why can't he just be a normal kid? Normal isn't so bad after all.
This story ties all the loose ends from the other three and gives you more background into the characters. I didn't love the whole Islamic terrorist thing, I think anyone can be a terrorist and this book proves that also, but I hate stereotyping of anyone or any race. Good morals and values fill this book and anyone who likes action would enjoy this series. Maybe someday it will be a movie, could happen, look at the authors bio.
Posted August 3, 2011
I really enjoyed The Homlanders series by Andrew Klavan. The final Hour is the last installment of the series. What a great book and what a great series. I hear that it will be turned into a movie and if they can keep it somewhat close to the book it will make for a blockbuster.
These books are more geared towards young teenage kids. But adults will love these books as well.
A little bit about the books, Charlie West is a high school kid that goes to sleep and wakes up the next morning tied to a chair and threatening to be killed. Charlie escapes and goes to the police which in his mind are the good guys but comes to find out they are after him as well.
The book are action pack and have a great message to young kids to not give up and never give in. I really did enjoy this series. The book is an easy read and one that you will set down to start and can not but down not matter how tried you are at nights.
Thanks to Thomas Nelson for my free copy of this book. My review is that of my own.