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Book Review

Armageddon by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the fifth book in the “Daniel X” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Daniel X is a highly intelligent alien with superior strength and speed. He has the ability to create and transform the atomic structure of objects, teleport himself from one place to another and travel through time. He is also an alien hunter, following in his parents' footsteps.

He goes after alien criminals on Earth found on The List of Alien Outlaws on Terra Firma. He ultimately wants to kill No. 1, also called The Prayer, who murdered his parents when he was a toddler. Daniel's childhood friends — Dana, Emma, Willy and Joe — were killed during an alien invasion on his home planet of Alpar Nok. He is able to bring them to life from his imagination, and they help him in his quest. Wearing a disguise, Daniel sneaks into an abandoned coal mine in West Virginia. This is where No. 2 on The List, Abbadon, is meeting with his followers. Abbadon tells them to prepare for Armageddon, saying that humans are ripe for the taking due to divisions, greed and religious differences. Soon, all humans will hail him as their new lord and master. He tells his henchmen that Daniel X is the only one who has the power to stop him, so he orders them to find Daniel.

Knowing this will be his hardest assignment yet, Daniel decides to summon his friends while at an amusement park. FBI operatives led by Agent Martin Judge surprise the group at the park.

Agent Judge is with the FBI’s Interplanetary Outlaw Unit (IOU), which functions as a liaison between the United States federal government and visitors from other planets. He worked with Daniel’s parents to eradicate alien outlaws. Agent Judge asks for Daniel’s help to eliminate Abbadon. He invites Daniel back to his ranch in Kentucky, where Daniel meets Xanthos, an alien who looks like a thoroughbred stallion.

Xanthos was the spiritual adviser to Daniel’s father. Telepathically, the alien horse communicates to Daniel that his mission to take on Abbadon will be the final battle. Daniel disagrees, saying the final battle will be with The Prayer when he takes revenge for his parents’ murders. Xanthos warns Daniel against giving in to hate and anger, but Daniel ignores his advice. Daniel also meets Melody, Agent Judge’s teenage daughter, and is immediately attracted to her.

While at the ranch, Daniel learns that Abbadon has attacked Washington, D.C. Abbadon announces on television that if people wish to survive, they must join him underground. Daniel watches as people stampede to the underground entrances of the metro system, while others take advantage of the chaos to loot and riot. Abbadon revels in the indifference humans show to each other.

Along with his friends and Agent Judge’s team from IOU, Daniel travels to the nation’s capital. Daniel and the team start fighting Abbadon’s henchmen, locust-like aliens who are destroying the city. The fight ends when Melody blasts an ultrasonic frequency that kills the henchmen. At Abbadon’s prompting, the president of the United States then appears on television, asking people to comply with Abbadon’s demands and for Daniel’s surrender.

After destroying Washington, D.C., Abbadon appears in four cities at the same time: New York, Beijing, London and Moscow. Posing as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he calls for people to serve him and live, or refuse him and die. Millions bow down and pledge their allegiance. Using a clue revealed by Xanthos, Daniel realizes the real Abbadon is in New York. After teleporting into the midst of the ruined city, Daniel sees Abbadon herding people down staircases to subterranean train tracks.

Daniel confronts Abbadon. Despite Xanthos’ warning about giving in to anger, Daniel challenges Abbadon to a fight. When the alien hits him, the impact sends him a day into the future, where he sees New York is completely destroyed. He also sees a homeless man, who says that yesterday was the end of the world. The man quotes Revelation 6:4, which tells of the rider of a red fiery horse being given the power to take peace from the Earth. Daniel travels one day back in time to the ranch to ask Xanthos for advice. Xanthos says that Abbadon came to Earth to destroy it. When Daniel asks how to destroy the alien, Xanthos says it is better to build up than tear down.

Abbadon attacks the ranch, kidnaps Melody and sets the barn on fire, killing Xanthos. Abbadon then sends an alien to negotiate with Daniel, telling him that Melody will only be released if Daniel surrenders. Against Agent Judge’s wishes, Daniel agrees.

The night before he leaves to face Abbadon, Daniel’s father, Graff, appears to train his son for the battle. The two spar viciously, and Daniel becomes increasingly angry with his dad. Graff warns his son not to give in to hate and rage, telling him that Abbadon wins by making his targets slaves to those emotions. He says throughout history, whenever humans are fueled by ignorance and hate and turn against each other, Abbadon is behind it.

Graff also says that Abbadon is the alien he was preparing to battle when No. 1 killed him. When Daniel demands to know Abbadon’s identity, his father says Abbadon is the Prince of Darkness, Satan himself. He says that Daniel must fight him, as this is the ultimate struggle between the creator and destroyer, a clash that is recorded in holy texts on every planet in the universe.

With a group of IOU agents and his friends, Daniel heads to the abandoned coal mine in West Virginia. Along the way, several die or are hurt. Daniel realizes that he and Abbadon command the same incredible powers, so Abbadon can use his imagination to destroy whatever Daniel creates. As Daniel considers his ability to make people see things that aren’t really there and believe things that aren’t really true, he wonders if the world really is destroyed in the future as he witnessed, or if Abbadon planted those images in his head.

Graff tells his son that he must find a way to destroy Abbadon. When he does, he will complete their family’s mission on Earth. Since his mission as Daniel’s father is complete, Graff says his spirit must move on. After Graff’s image fades, Daniel’s mother appears to him and then disappears as well. Daniel is heartbroken.

The group continues until they come to the gates of hell, which exude a putrid smell, noxious fumes and gaseous fire. Inside, they see trapped souls of the damned in several levels similar to the circles of hell as described by Dante in his epic poem, The Divine Comedy. Daniel notices that in every circle, consequences were paid in death for choices made in life.

Abbadon appears and sends the IOU team back to the planet’s surface. He makes Daniel’s friends vanish. Daniel tries to think of Abbadon’s weakness. He transports himself back in time, but Abbadon follows him there. Daniel then travels to Alpar Nok, where he finds Chordata, an elephant. Chordata says Abbadon is not immortal, but works for The Prayer, an evil god who has vastly extended Abbadon’s life. Chordata tells Daniel not to believe what he sees with his own eyes, because Abbadon uses fear to conjure up what looks real to people. Daniel realizes that Abbadon’s destruction will be erased if he can defeat him.

With this knowledge, Daniel travels to the future to see what it looks like. Abbadon yanks him back to hell and offers to make him one of Earth’s elite if Daniel will serve him. Daniel refuses. Abbadon then transforms Daniel and Melody into burning boulders and repeatedly throws them down a cliff. When they reach the bottom, Abbadon changes them into humans who must push another flaming boulder up the hill. Daniel remembers that Abbadon is not immortal, so with all his remaining strength, he imagines Abbadon is dead. Abbadon cannot imagine himself dead, so he doesn’t fight back until it’s too late. He bursts into flames.

Released from Abbadon’s imaginings, Daniel and Melody are transported back to Kentucky to Agent Judge’s ranch. Xanthos is there, as he never actually died. The cities of the world were not really destroyed either. After everything is settled, Daniel considers the anger he has within himself and wonders if he has the potential to become like Abbadon.

Christian Beliefs

Before Daniel confronts Abbadon, Xanthos tells Daniel to choose wisely, to not gain the world and lose his soul. A homeless man quotes from the Book of Revelation, identifying Abbadon as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Daniel discovers that in the Book of Revelation, Abbadon is described as the king of the bottomless pit and leader of a legion of beasts with locust wings and scorpion tails. Daniel’s father tells him that when he meets Abbadon, he is not to trust what he hears or sees because Satan knows how to manipulate and deceive.

Other Belief Systems

Daniel is a highly intelligent alien who has the ability to create and transform objects, teleport himself from one place to another and travel through time. Daniel is able to conjure up people who have died and to bring them to life for a time.

Xanthos is Daniel’s spiritual adviser; he also advised Daniel’s father. Xanthos tells Daniel that worry is wasted energy; it is like praying for something you don’t really want.

As Xanthos lies dying, he tells Daniel that everyone is mortal, or else they would be gods. Graff tells him that he spoke to Xanthos after the horse’s immortal soul slipped free of his lifeless body. Daniel apologizes for his role in Xanthos’ death, but his father says that it was Xanthos’ destiny.

Graff says that Abbadon is Satan, the great pretender, a fallen angel fighting for souls, hoping to lure them into darkness. He explains that Abbadon is also the one Muslims call Iblis, and ancient Zoroastrians called Angra Aminyu. Since No. 2 is the Devil, Daniel asks about the identity of No. 1. His father says that No. 1 is a deity, a god.

Before his fight with Abbadon, Daniel’s mother appears and says they need to pray that he is ready for battle. To whom they pray is not mentioned, but Daniel says that sometimes you need to call on a power greater than yourself, even if you already have great powers. Daniel notices that his mother prays fervently. When he asks her why, she mentions that she is trying to prepare them for the possibility of his death. She says everyone is immortal and must leave this realm for the next.

When Daniel feels it growing hotter underground, his father says he is feeling the effects of the “furnace of fire” mentioned in the Bible. Graff says that the only way Daniel can defeat Satan is to not let him tempt him away from who he truly is.

Daniel’s father says Buddha achieved enlightenment while meditating under a banyan tree and so will Daniel. He also says that for millions of years, the twisted god they know as No. 1 has been amused by the eternal struggle between good and evil, demons and angels, and darkness and light.

Daniel compares No. 1 to Zeus on Mount Olympus looking down from his throne in delight as mortals fight to the death for his enjoyment. Daniel notices that Melody and Dana share the same scar on their faces and realizes that Melody and Dana are the same soul.

Authority Roles

Daniel had a loving relationship with his parents before they were killed. He uses his abilities to materialize them from his imagination whenever he needs help. Daniel and his father train vigorously to the point of hurting each other. Daniel becomes increasingly angry with his father, as he thinks his father was dumb enough to allow himself to be killed by No. 1. He calls his father a deadbeat dad for leaving him alone on Earth. His father talks to Daniel about his anger, urging him not to be swayed by the negative, which is the same advice Xanthos offers. When Daniel’s parents fade away forever, he mourns them.

Before leaving to battle Abbadon, some of the Navy Seals on Agent Judge’s team refuse to be led by a boy. One Navy Seal challenges Daniel to a fight, but Daniel refuses to engage. He spends more than an hour dodging the adult’s blows. Daniel recognizes that he could have seriously hurt the adult; he chose instead to be more mature and calm.


Name-calling is used, such as cubic jerkonium, scrungrow, stupid, butt, crap, claptrap, dumb, deadbeat, dag-blasted, wimp, wussy and losers. The violence described is more graphic than in previous “Daniel X” novels.

Daniel turns an alien into a balloon, which explodes after being shot. He also fights an alien who is actually Attila the Hun. Daniel transforms himself into a pot of yak stew, and Attila eats him. While inside Attila’s body, Daniel changes into his full-size self, causing the alien’s body to explode. Blood is described as squirting all around, like ketchup squeeze-bottles gone wild.

Daniel and his friends confront a street gang as they attack an old woman in Moscow. During the fight, Dana’s face is slashed with a broken bottle. Daniel heals the bleeding wound, but it leaves a scar. Daniel imagines Abbadon dead and the alien’s body burns.

Abbadon kills some of his henchmen by shooting deadly lasers from his eyes. He also destroys several cities, but spares the humans so they can be enslaved. Abbadon attacks the ranch, kidnaps Melody and sets the barn on fire, killing Xanthos.

Daniel and his father spar in a no-rules training session that is the most violent one of the series. Both fighters suffer broken bones and try to strangle each other.

Several of Daniel’s IUO team are hurt or die in Abbadon’s underground world; some fall to their death in an avalanche; others pass out from noxious fumes at the gates of hell. Abbadon tortures Daniel and Melody by turning them into flaming boulders that repeatedly plummet down a mountain. Both feel injuries as if they were in their own bodies.

Daniel sees that the third level of hell is filled with souls wallowing in filth while raw sewage dribbles on their heads. The fifth circle is an open cesspool, where those whose lives had been filled with rage have to wrestle each other in a pool of brown muck. The seventh circle of hell is where violent souls are spending eternity splashing around in a river of boiling blood.


Daniel compares himself expanding inside of Attila the Hun’s body to a Grow-Your-Own-Girlfriend sponge toy that’s guaranteed to grow when soaked in water.

The second circle of hell is filled with those who had been overcome by lust. Daniel recognizes some dead politicians and celebrities who were famous for cheating on their spouses.

Daniel has romantic feelings for Dana, a girl he creates from his imagination, and he develops romantic feelings for Melody as well. When he first meets Melody, he notices that she is wearing a snug T-shirt. He feels awkward introducing Dana to Melody.

Dana kisses Daniel after he saves her. Dana is jealous of Daniel’s feelings for Melody, and so she begins dating Willy. The couple holds hands and is always together. Daniel isn’t sure if Dana likes Willy or if she is trying to make him jealous. Melody kisses Daniel on the cheek, and Daniel believes they are true soul mates.

Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments/Notes

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

10 and older


James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein






Record Label



Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group


On Video

Year Published





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