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Death Panels: A Novel of Life, Liberty and Faith

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The year is 2042. American Christians are decimated, persecuted. Most of them huddled together on a federal reservation, the rest forced to worship in secret underground communities. The State knows all and controls all: what you eat, what you watch, how you think and pray. Tolerance is the highest virtue. Deviance is the norm; speaking out against it is a crime. Any lifestyl The year is 2042. American Christians are decimated, persecuted. Most of them huddled together on a federal reservation, the rest forced to worship in secret underground communities. The State knows all and controls all: what you eat, what you watch, how you think and pray. Tolerance is the highest virtue. Deviance is the norm; speaking out against it is a crime. Any lifestyle choice is fine as long as it doesn t lower your federal Healthcare Score. Too low and the Health Continuity Councils or Death Panels will hold your life in their hands. For powerful, ambitious Senator Axyl Houston, this isn t enough. He wants the Death Panels to have the power to euthanize the genetically weak and imperfect; he wants America to lead the global Unified Order in purging future generations of disease and imperfection. Against him stands David Rudder, an escapee from the Christian reservation called the Cloistered Dominion or Dome who in the simple, merciful act of rescuing a Down s syndrome baby from termination becomes entangled in a chain of events that could lead to a revolution for the Culture of Life. Or to its final destruction. The Death Panels is an exciting and disturbing story of a not-too-distant future in which our current political battles over life and freedom have reached an explosive crossroads, and a clarion call to all Christians and lovers of liberty.


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The year is 2042. American Christians are decimated, persecuted. Most of them huddled together on a federal reservation, the rest forced to worship in secret underground communities. The State knows all and controls all: what you eat, what you watch, how you think and pray. Tolerance is the highest virtue. Deviance is the norm; speaking out against it is a crime. Any lifestyl The year is 2042. American Christians are decimated, persecuted. Most of them huddled together on a federal reservation, the rest forced to worship in secret underground communities. The State knows all and controls all: what you eat, what you watch, how you think and pray. Tolerance is the highest virtue. Deviance is the norm; speaking out against it is a crime. Any lifestyle choice is fine as long as it doesn t lower your federal Healthcare Score. Too low and the Health Continuity Councils or Death Panels will hold your life in their hands. For powerful, ambitious Senator Axyl Houston, this isn t enough. He wants the Death Panels to have the power to euthanize the genetically weak and imperfect; he wants America to lead the global Unified Order in purging future generations of disease and imperfection. Against him stands David Rudder, an escapee from the Christian reservation called the Cloistered Dominion or Dome who in the simple, merciful act of rescuing a Down s syndrome baby from termination becomes entangled in a chain of events that could lead to a revolution for the Culture of Life. Or to its final destruction. The Death Panels is an exciting and disturbing story of a not-too-distant future in which our current political battles over life and freedom have reached an explosive crossroads, and a clarion call to all Christians and lovers of liberty.

30 review for Death Panels: A Novel of Life, Liberty and Faith

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Unlike most dystopian novels I've read, Death Panels depicts a near-future (2042), making it easy to see how the the world could slip from the present to a utilitarian government that relies on complacent citizens who have ceded their liberty for the "good" of the world. With a large cast of characters, the author allows the reader to get inside the heads of those who are complacent with the status quo or advocating for even further government control, those who are seeking change from the insid Unlike most dystopian novels I've read, Death Panels depicts a near-future (2042), making it easy to see how the the world could slip from the present to a utilitarian government that relies on complacent citizens who have ceded their liberty for the "good" of the world. With a large cast of characters, the author allows the reader to get inside the heads of those who are complacent with the status quo or advocating for even further government control, those who are seeking change from the inside (in both secular and religious groups), and those who are preserving culture and liberty on the outside. I'm not a fan of of many points of view, which often renders a story confusing and disjointed, but in this case, I understand the author's purpose. The emphasis here is on the eradication of those who are less than perfect - those born with disease or deformity - and those whose existence is an inconvenience to those who hold power, whether they be parents, "cohabs," or those who wield government influence. Ultimately, Death Panels shows what happens when people turn a blind eye to reality and how small acts of resistance and cooperation can begin to turn a culture around.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Leticia Velasquez

    Deep in the human heart is an innate sense of right and wrong. It guides our actions whether we were raised in the Amazon rainforest or in downtown Manhattan, whether we believe in God or not. It helps us tell right from wrong unless another influence supplants it. This understanding of essential facts like the dignity of the human person and his right to live is so vitally important to society that it is inscribed in the Preamble of the Constitution. “All men are endowed by their Creator with i Deep in the human heart is an innate sense of right and wrong. It guides our actions whether we were raised in the Amazon rainforest or in downtown Manhattan, whether we believe in God or not. It helps us tell right from wrong unless another influence supplants it. This understanding of essential facts like the dignity of the human person and his right to live is so vitally important to society that it is inscribed in the Preamble of the Constitution. “All men are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” We may not be aware of the presence of this Natural Law within our hearts; however, we do recognize when it has been violated, it causes a visceral sense of outrage, for example when a child is brutalized. Dictators and totalitarian regimes know this, which is why they invest so much time in re-shaping the consciences of their nation with propaganda. In Michelle Buckman’s novel, that is precisely the kind of society America has become in 2042, when it has been absorbed into a worldwide government called the “Unified Order of the World”. The fundamental right to live is turned into a duty to kill “for the good of the nation, for the good of the world.” Decades of programming, dehumanizing the weak and deliberate obliteration of the family, and its primordial role in reproduction, has paid off for the leaders of the regime, which has gained absolute control of a populace that follows orders to kill the unfit and experiment on the ill. The leaders of the Unified Order, led by Axyl Houston, are about to implement their version of ‘The Final Solution,’ the extermination of the inhabitants of the Cloistered Dominion, the Christian ghetto, who pose the last threat to the complete takeover of the human heart. The Death Panels, like its predecessor, Aldous Huxley’s prophetic Brave New World in the 1930’s, is a clarion call to those whose consciences have fallen asleep in a nation once considered the pinnacle of civilization and beacon of freedom to the world. GK Chesterton said that Brave New World was a revolt against Utopianism, rejecting materialism and loss of individuality, sexual promiscuity, and was written about America. The Death Panels was written about the America towards which we are heading if good people do nothing to stop it. It’s our last warning. The Death Panels is a compelling read, despite how fiercely the atrocities of this brave new America assault our sensibilities. Although offended, we are tempted to proclaim that we are above such outrages in America, yet, in the absolute control the state has over health care, we are eerily reminded of certain legislation which was just rammed through Congress. Today’s politicians have decided what is “for the good of the nation, for the good of the world,” despite the will of the American public. The legislation has provisions for the same type of Death Panels we find in the Unified Order where those with genetic defects are eliminated as too expensive to receive care. Today, in 2010, it is accomplished by a voluntary 90% abortion rate; in 2042 it is accomplished by “dumping” whereby each birthing center has a drawer, where a defective newborn is strapped in, the drawer pushed in, and a button pressed, which gasses the newborn to death, and, in a coldly efficient manner, his corpse unceremoniously dumped into a waste bin. This is too much for David Rudder, an outcast who, because of his refusal to abandon his Catholic faith, lives in the Dominion, a penal colony of Catholics carved out of the wasteland of Detroit’s inner cities. Even though he is a physician, his wife Elizabeth and newborn daughter Bethany languished and died for lack of updated medical equipment, which the government denied the Dominion in an attempt to slowly extinguish the remnants of the population resistant to indoctrination. David came to mainstream America seeking solace from his grief, determined to do some good and make contact with the Christian Underground when after assisting at a birth, a child with Down syndrome is born, and he encounters the horrific process of “dumping.” Rudder rebels, and along with obstetrician Markus Holmes, whose disgust at the outrage gives him a burst of courage, they run with newborn baby Frankie in a desperate quest to save his life. These reluctant heroes have no idea that their bold actions will bring about upheaval in a nation which seems to be sleeping. They inspire Jessica Main, who has been secretly yearning for a family of her own, and who contacts members of the Christian Underground who have been waiting to capitalize on such an opportunity to expose the heinous experiments conducted on sick children donated to the State in the Gift of Life foundation. In The Death Panels one small act of rebellion from a reluctant hero touches off a mass awakening which threatens the hold that the totalitarian regime has over its somnolent citizenry. The tragedy is that in America in 2010, this downturn is already far advanced, and we as a nation are too blind to see how far down the slippery slope our apathy has allowed us to slide. The Death Panels may be our last chance to see the terrifying consequences of deeming one member of the human family ‘life unworthy of life,’ and thereby degrading the value of all life. This fast-paced, powerfully written novel may be the wake up call we have been seeking.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Karen Boyce

    I received this wonderful yet disturbing novel at a writer's conference, and it was relegated to a pile of books that I wanted to read. When I finally reached this work and started to read it, I devoured it in one day. I was so sorry that this gem had been unopened while I struggled through lesser works. It was a light shining quietly in the fog of struggling talents. Michelle Buckman takes a world of futuristic and terrifying possibilities and draws the reader into a world that seems both plaus I received this wonderful yet disturbing novel at a writer's conference, and it was relegated to a pile of books that I wanted to read. When I finally reached this work and started to read it, I devoured it in one day. I was so sorry that this gem had been unopened while I struggled through lesser works. It was a light shining quietly in the fog of struggling talents. Michelle Buckman takes a world of futuristic and terrifying possibilities and draws the reader into a world that seems both plausible and realistic. And the thought of this future world both fascinates and horrifies this reader. It is a world where Christianity is outlawed and imperfection is decided by the state. Those who are deemed useless and less then perfect are terminated. The citizens of this future world are controlled by the government- influenced media, a medical world of twisted morals, and the loss of the true sense of the value of life. What frightened this reader was the path our present seems to be taking to the creation of just such a world. What was considered unthinkable just a generation is true today. Those who are different by virtue of their belief in the 'ancient superstition' called Christianity are collected into a concentration camp. At that camp no medical care, including antibiotics, are supplied. It is during an escape to find needed drugs to treat the sick at the camp that our hero impulsively saves a baby about to be euthanized and sets in motion a series of events that challenge the reigning government and accepted morals of this lost world. As with most transforming events, it is one individual that stirs the hearts and enlightens the souls of those who, entrapped by selfishness, have ignored the sufferings of others. Two thousand years ago a simple babe came to transform our world. In history, it is proven repeatedly that the individual courage and strength of one soul saves the world. Michelle Buckman spins a tale that is believable and addictive. That is no small task when writing dystopic fiction. I have read many attempts that fall short. It is Buckman's talent that makes the story flow easily and keeps the reader spellbound. The twists and turns of the plot make this novel exciting and unpredictable. I highly recommend this work. It will challenge your thoughts of the future and open your eyes to the possibilities of the present.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Buckman

    I wrote this book in the 90s as being futuristic...see how much has come true!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Steven R. McEvoy

    There are many books in this genre and style. I have read several of them. And even with stating that I thoroughly enjoyed this volume. This book has elements that remind me of I Am Margaret by Corinna Turner, Chasing Liberty by Theresa Linden, The Revisionary by Kristen Hogrefe and those are just some of the ones I have read in the last few years. And yet it handles it in a very very different way. I very much enjoyed this book, and to be honest was disappointed that it was a stand along story. There are many books in this genre and style. I have read several of them. And even with stating that I thoroughly enjoyed this volume. This book has elements that remind me of I Am Margaret by Corinna Turner, Chasing Liberty by Theresa Linden, The Revisionary by Kristen Hogrefe and those are just some of the ones I have read in the last few years. And yet it handles it in a very very different way. I very much enjoyed this book, and to be honest was disappointed that it was a stand along story. I would love to know what happens next, and how it happens. The year is 2042, Christians either live by hiding their faith or they live in a sort of Christian reservation. The story follows a man with medical training. Who is from the Cloistered Dominion, or Dome, that man is David, and things in the States are far worse then they ever could have expected. The Death Panels are decisions based on statistics and probabilities. And Senator Axyl Houston wants to expand their control to all area’s of life and the whole population. But the sense that something is wrong is growing. And a spark can ignite a fire that will burn through the system and change it all. From the writing of this story and even news events these days it is easy to see a story like this being prophetic. Written in 2020, I doubt even the author could have predicated that by 2020 masses around the globe would be cancelled or closed to attendance because of a virus. The story has a wide range of characters, and different views of religion and how life should be. The book was engaging from start to finish. The writing is clear and concise. The characters are very well crafter. The world created is eerily familiar. The state controls who is born, and who dies. Your medical treatment is determined by a social score. And choosing the wrong food, snacks, or drinks can lower your score. If your score if low enough medical treatment can be outright denied. Being different is looked down upon. There is a great deal of suspense in this story. But also hope. It was an intense read. I highly recommend it. Read the review on my blog Book Reviews and More. Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laura Pearl

    Michelle Buckman's Death Panels: A Novel of Life, Liberty, and Faith is incredibly well-written and a page-turner to boot. A novel set in America in the year 2042, it is reminiscent of 1984 and Brave New World; but because so much of the "that will never happen" aspects of those futuristic tales have become a whole lot less unthinkable in our modern world, it is that much more frightening. Given all that is going on in our world today, it almost reads like a news story rather than fiction. In Buck Michelle Buckman's Death Panels: A Novel of Life, Liberty, and Faith is incredibly well-written and a page-turner to boot. A novel set in America in the year 2042, it is reminiscent of 1984 and Brave New World; but because so much of the "that will never happen" aspects of those futuristic tales have become a whole lot less unthinkable in our modern world, it is that much more frightening. Given all that is going on in our world today, it almost reads like a news story rather than fiction. In Buckman's futuristic America, which has ceded its national sovereignty to a global entity called the UO (Unified Order of the World), babies born with abnormalities are routinely euthanized, women who dare to become pregnant after having two children are taken away for forced abortions, and patients are routinely denied care, depending on how the government perceives their worthiness. Marriage is all but a dead institution, and Christians who are out in the world and haven't been banished to The Dome (a place where Christians called Dominians live together in poverty) must keep their religion a secret. Each citizen has an ID chip that helps the state keep track of his every move--and even his every food choice. The government controls every single solitary aspect of life, and its mantra is "For the good of the nation, for the good of the world"--a catchphrase that sends a chill down your spine. There are heroes, however--among the Dominians as well as those living out in the world under the noses of the corrupt government. And these people are willing to risk their own lives to save even one innocent baby born with Down's Syndrome from government-enforced euthanasia. So even in what appears to be a very dark story, there is hope. This was definitely a well-crafted novel, written by a supremely talented writer. And I applaud Buckman for weaving this chilling cautionary tale which is so significant, given the age in which we live (but tough to read at times, given the Brave New World-esque subject matter). I thought about giving it 5 stars, but then gave gave it 4, because as good as it was, it did not affect me quite as profoundly as Brave New World, 1984, or The Lord of the World, all older works that deal with similar themes. But perhaps that's because when I read those in my younger years, I couldn't possibly imagine a world where the government would be allowed to strip its citizens of so many inalienable rights. I definitely recommend this book--highly. It will scare you, but it will also inspire you to do what you can to combat life-destroying forces of evil, when and if they come to your hometown.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kia

    If you are considering reading this book, be forewarned: It is really hard to read. As in, there are dead kids and babies in this book. Since having children of my own, I can't generally handle that sort of thing and if I had known ahead of time, I probably wouldn't have read this book. But I didn't know and I started reading and by the time the really horrible, depressing stuff came up, I was hooked. Buckman has created a harrowing depiction of our possible future if we continue down the road w If you are considering reading this book, be forewarned: It is really hard to read. As in, there are dead kids and babies in this book. Since having children of my own, I can't generally handle that sort of thing and if I had known ahead of time, I probably wouldn't have read this book. But I didn't know and I started reading and by the time the really horrible, depressing stuff came up, I was hooked. Buckman has created a harrowing depiction of our possible future if we continue down the road we're on. Specifically, lack of respect for life and too-powerful governments running our lives and making inhumane bureaucratic decisions in the name of efficiency. The story is well-told and totally gripping so that, as much as I wanted to stop reading, I had to see what would happen. At many points in the story, I told myself, "Oh, that could never happen." Then I saw the news story about the Belgian doctor euthanizing 45-year-old, otherwise healthy twin brothers merely because they were deaf and going blind. (On Dec. 14, 2012.) Guess what? It's happening already. Read "Death Panels" and take a good look at the sorry, demoralized, sick, sick society we still have a chance not to become.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jill Williamson

    In a futuristic land, David Rudder leaves the Christian Reservation in an attempt to see if there is a Christian underground in the Unified Order. Being a doctor, he spends a day working in a hospital and rescues a Down syndrome baby from being terminated. Now he’s on the run, being hunted by many and helped by a few believers and sympathizers. Will David be able to get back to the reservation with the little boy or will he get caught? What an interesting story! I really enjoyed the clever planni In a futuristic land, David Rudder leaves the Christian Reservation in an attempt to see if there is a Christian underground in the Unified Order. Being a doctor, he spends a day working in a hospital and rescues a Down syndrome baby from being terminated. Now he’s on the run, being hunted by many and helped by a few believers and sympathizers. Will David be able to get back to the reservation with the little boy or will he get caught? What an interesting story! I really enjoyed the clever planning that went into storyworld. I wasn’t sure where the plot was headed, but it turned out to be really interesting. There were a lot of points of view to keep track of, and I got several of the women confused for a while before I could finally keep them all straight. But the book was intriguing and gave me lots to ponder. I thought it was cool.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Prophetic! This story depicts a future when tolerance laws protect everyone except Christians, and punishment by government for dissent is swift and severe. Humans are not valued as individuals but only for how they (or their biological parts) might serve the world order. Parents are lied to and pressured to give up their parental rights, submitting their children to government "schools." Babies that are not perfect are destroyed. Parts of the story showing how babies and children are treated (a Prophetic! This story depicts a future when tolerance laws protect everyone except Christians, and punishment by government for dissent is swift and severe. Humans are not valued as individuals but only for how they (or their biological parts) might serve the world order. Parents are lied to and pressured to give up their parental rights, submitting their children to government "schools." Babies that are not perfect are destroyed. Parts of the story showing how babies and children are treated (and used) were very emotional for me. I love that this novel had several interesting plot lines woven together, but for me there were too many characters' names to keep track of. Once I see a name, I think that character is important, but perhaps some of the minor characters appearing once or twice did not need to be named. I do recommend this novel to adults and mature teenagers.

  10. 4 out of 5

    James

    Imagine living in a world in which using your cell phone can get you arrested. Imagine living in a world in which reading the Bible could get you in trouble, or mentioning the name of Jesus could get you institutionalized. Catholic author Michelle Buckman has crafted just such a world in harrowing detail in Death Panels: A Novel of Life, Liberty and Faith. The one refrain that was playing through my mind as I was reading this novel was, If we as a nation keep doing what we’re doing, if we as a p Imagine living in a world in which using your cell phone can get you arrested. Imagine living in a world in which reading the Bible could get you in trouble, or mentioning the name of Jesus could get you institutionalized. Catholic author Michelle Buckman has crafted just such a world in harrowing detail in Death Panels: A Novel of Life, Liberty and Faith. The one refrain that was playing through my mind as I was reading this novel was, If we as a nation keep doing what we’re doing, if we as a people keep allowing atrocities to be written into our laws, this is the future we can look forward to. Not a pleasant thought. Then again, the truth very often is not pleasant to face. In Death Panels, Buckman gives us a wake-up call. This is a world in which not only are abortions prevalent but expected, in which developmentally deformed infants are euthanized and organs harvested, Christians live in poverty and squalor in ghettos separated from society. This is a world in which forces for good are forced underground and efforts for change are uphill battles. David, a covert Christian doctor, steals away an infant with Downs Syndrome in order to save his life. Along the way, we follow his lonely struggle, escaping the peril of capture and arrest at every turn. Just when we think he has run out of options, he meets a whole community, hidden in the recesses of society, who think the way he does. This tells us that, regardless of whether we think we’re all alone in the struggle, we are never really alone. Buckman masterfully crafts this society in frightening detail through the actions and dialogue of her characters. The short episodes keep the action moving. I am reminded of one infamous line from the movie Casablanca in which a Nazi officer spat out, "You'll remember that here in Casablanca, human life's cheap!" Michelle Buckman draws the trajectory of our society's mindset to its ultimate conclusion in frightening detail. In a world where human life is cheap, where comfort and convenience, as well as a false sense of tolerance trump everything else, including the dignity of the human person, those who are oppressed will rise up and plant the standard of Christ firmly back in its place. Way to go, Michelle Buckman! Keep these stories coming. The world needs to be reminded of the dignity of all human life!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Reader

    This is the first book I've given 5 stars to in 2013 and I also added it to my list of favorites. It's a great novel that addresses the most important of all human rights issues, the right to life. Here's what the author recently said about the book on her facebook page "I'm really depressed to see so much of DEATH PANELS becoming a reality. I thought when I wrote it back in 1994, I had made it way too far-fetched. Other than the Dome, which was done for story-telling purposes of having the hero This is the first book I've given 5 stars to in 2013 and I also added it to my list of favorites. It's a great novel that addresses the most important of all human rights issues, the right to life. Here's what the author recently said about the book on her facebook page "I'm really depressed to see so much of DEATH PANELS becoming a reality. I thought when I wrote it back in 1994, I had made it way too far-fetched. Other than the Dome, which was done for story-telling purposes of having the hero be an outsider, the whole scenario is opening right in front of us."

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ange

    This is hard to read at first because the world painted is so horrible and sad, and so easily a place we could become. But then you get hooked in as you follow David as he tries in one small way to right a terrible wrong. The faith of the characters is steadfast and real, full of doubts but pushing on in doing what they think is right. This is the first book in a long time that I actually stayed up late to read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Neil Combs

    Reading this book, I found it especially relevant to where health care seems to be going globally. it was like "1984" meets "Brave New World" and they take on the task of creating a perfect race, where imperfect is "terminated." Chilling, scary and thought-provoking, I thought this book was right on the mark. I hard a hard time putting it down.

  14. 5 out of 5

    G

    Such an amazing book, and w/ the HHS mandates coming down from the Obama administration, we are heading down this path. My goodness how eerily similar to what is happening now. We are in a battle for religious freedom, we can't lose that fight.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erin Cupp

    I'm a big fan of dystopic novels to begin with (what does *that* say about me?), so I was eager to get a copy of _Death Panels_. It was gripping, page-turning, and surprisingly satisfying at the end. I'm going to be bold and call it *our* _Handmaid's Tale_. Highly recommended!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    This was fantastic! I think it is so scary because so many of the policies in this book, which takes place around 2040, are being put into place now, and the attitudes are heading towards the attitudes in this book. Quite a warning.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Loved it, but was shocking at times!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Ferreira

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Park

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tara Lewis

  21. 4 out of 5

    Teri

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Weidner

  23. 5 out of 5

    Toni Ladd

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mara

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sherri R Sevegney

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tavia Stiegler

  28. 4 out of 5

    Holly

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kidhawk

  30. 5 out of 5

    Natalia

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