Red by Ted Dekker (Book #2 in the Circle Trilogy)
Read: because I finished up Black back in September (Thomas Nelson, 560 pages)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (finished 1/23/10)
Synopsis: In the second part of his three-book Circle trilogy, Dekker pens an absorbing thriller that convincingly blurs the lines between fantasy and reality. In Black, readers met Thomas Hunter, whose dreams move him from a contemporary world to a strange other-world and back again. In this sequel, Hunter finds himself again torn between two realities after a 15-year respite from his dreams. Pitted against the New Allegiance, which has intentionally spread a deadly virus known as the Raison Strain that threatens to destroy the modern world, he launches a desperate search for the scientist who can provide the vaccine. In Hunter’s other world, the savage Horde with its loathsome skin disease is on the brink of overpowering the Forest People, who hope for Elyon’s deliverance. But the Forest People’s “Great Romance” — their love of Elyon — has degenerated, and when the controversial, messiah-like Justin proposes a truce, things quickly disintegrate. The Christian symbolism woven into the story will delight readers of faith, and the intriguing plot will interest general fantasy readers.
Overall Impression: It took me way too long to read this. It didn’t help that I left a LIBRARY COPY of it in a hostel in New Zealand. As in the New Zealand near Australia. As in Really Far Away From California. Library patron FAIL. (In a related story, I picked up the only book in English at the next hostel’s book exchange, a translated Norwegian children’s book called Reindeer Boy — one of these days I’ll finish reading it and review it). Anyway, it took me a long time to buy a new copy (which will be donated to the library tomorrow) and even longer to finish it because I had so many other good books going. About 2/3 of the way through, I finally got sucked in and read the last bit really quickly. That last 1/3 was overwhelmingly powerful. The final scenes with Justin and Elyon and the children and Thomas and Johan and Rachelle were so evocative of the gospel that it brought me to tears. Granted, I’m a Christian so the allegory was crystal clear. I’m not sure how someone who is not intimately familiar with Jesus would understand the story. But it really got to me. Overall, however, I didn’t like this one quite as much as Black, mostly because I had a hard time sorting out the different betrayals that were going on between the Forest People and the Horde, and because I didn’t feel like the story on “Earth” moved forward all that much (spoiler alert: here is that half of the story in two words — they escaped!). Still, most of the story — especially in the forest — was compelling. I ended up liking (and therefore caring about) the characters more in this book than Black, too. Always a good thing.
Pros: More-than-effective metaphors, strong characters, some ca-ra-zay stuff goes down.
Cons: Didn’t really get into it until 2/3 of the way through, difficult to follow in some places.
Extras: The copy of the book I read had the entire graphic novel of the book in the back — awesome. Ted Dekker’s website.
Other books I’ve read by Ted Dekker: Black