The Regime: Evil Advances - Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins I credit my mom with getting me interested in this series. I have been hanging on since the beginning and have loved most of it (with the major exception of the terrible Glorious Appearing). So, when the prequels arrived, I plunged in.

Plot:
Nicolae Carpathia rises to power in Romania, Cameron Williams begins his career as a journalist, and Rayford's family is stretched to the breaking point when his wife converts to Christianity. Also, we get to see characters like Abdullah and Leon Fortunato.

Good:
The best parts of the book belong to Nicolae. Watching him manipulate and weasel his way into power is clever, amusing, and revolting all at the same time.
The end was a cliff-hanger that almost brought the book back to the quality of the previous books.

Bad:
I have loved Left Behind. I consider myself a fan of the series. But I cannot, in my right mind, recommend this book. It is too horrible for words. I started this back in January of this year and only now have had the determination to finish it (and just so I can get it out from my nightstand!). The saddest thing is that LaHaye and Jenkins have done so well in the past (especially most recently with The Rising).
I noticed three major problems with this particular installment:
1. There are way too many characters to be covered even minutely well in 390 pages. There are Nicolae, Leon, Viv, Rayford, Irene, Chloe, Raymie, Hattie, Buck, Dirk, Abdullah. And this is just a sampling. How can anybody hope to develop these people to true characters in such a short time? All we, the readers, are left with are cardboard caricatures of the characters we adore from the Left Behind series. Nicolae is the fiendish wannabe dictator; Rayford, the clueless father/husband and rock-on pilot. Chloe gets to play a varied role (ha!) as the typical rebellious teenager (she even gets to go drinking!) while Irene is lumped into the worn-out mother/wife who is unequally yoked with her husband. Buck has no character after the death of his mother. Abdullah is probably the only interesting character as he struggles with his wife over her conversion from Islam to Christianity, but not that much.
2. There is absolutely no plot. What happens in The Regime? I can tell you what is supposed to happen: Nicolae's rise to power. But all of 50 pages are spent on this fascinating tale, and most of that is hidden between senseless anecdotes about cardboard people interacting with cardboard people producing sleep-inducing experiences. Take Buck: he meets a girl he likes in the same section that she breaks up with him! We are given no time to bond with this woman and feel his pain when she breaks up with him. And about Rayford's family: why is it important that Chloe comes home drunk? That Rayford buys stuff on the black market? That we have to find out each time Irene meets Jackie and talks about how Rayford is an arrogant jerk? That Rayford has to drive Hattie home? Well, I guess to show yet another dysfunctional family, though what that proves, I have no clue. And sections are spent on people thinking about what they wanted to do instead of actually doing it! If the book had cut out Rayford's family and Buck's boring life (wow, he gets attached to a senior writer at the Global weekly, where's the popcorn?) and focused only on Nicolae, it might have been a better book.
3. Rayford and Nicolae are inconsistent. Maybe Buck is too, but I fell asleep during his scenes. All I remember is reading endless lines about Rayford contemplating Hattie (if you read Left Behind, the first one, he comments on how he could have an affair with her and later how glad he was he hadn't gone very far--no mention of riding her home so frequently!) and how bad his marriage was. I always got the impression that Rayford had only started to recently think about having an affair, not something that had been in the works for years.
Then there's Nicolae. He's so sweet and charming back in the first Left Behind. Here, we learn that this is a complete act; he actually is a spoiled eight-year-old who throws daily temper-tantrums when he's told that he's not at the center of the universe. The man we see in Left Behind? The charming politician, that unassuming senator of Romania who quickly rose to head of the UN based on his charisma, his empathy, his compassion? That's a consummate act. He's all charm and humility when in front of the populace and his one-night-stands. Why do Leon and Viv work for him? Well, they have nothing better to do and are used to him. Plus, maybe the benefits packet rocked.
There are more things that drive me nuts about this bookb (how juvenile the writing seemed, the uneven pacing), but I don't have the time or the inclination to recall each and every one of them. You get the picture.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Any dialogue is alluded to. Rayford contemplates adultery, and Nicolae has several intimate girlfriends. Several deaths occur, but nothing graphic.

Overall:
This was perfectly terrible! This could be used as an alternative to sleeping drugs! No wonder it took me almost a year to finish. Not only was the book boring, it took one of my favorite characters, Nicolae, and twisted him into this ugly, unrecognizable beast who doesn't seem a thing like he is later in the series. Stay away unless you are an avid Left Behind fan!