Straight Talk about "Green" by Ted Dekker
Green- The Circle - Book 0 The Beginning and the End
This is a review for the book “Green” as I have agreed to review for Thomas Nelson’s “Book Sneeze”. Blogging reviews for free Books.
Very similar to the series itself, I have had many emotions while reading the four books in Dekker’s Christian allegorical series he calls "The Circle." I felt excitement that this book was written, trepidation and concern - will he ruin it? And caution because I have been sorely disappointed by a number of Dekker’s modern “Fast Food” reads as I call them. It has seemed that Dekker’s later books have been churned out because it is expected of him by his publisher and his readers, and not because they have been inspired. So I came to this book with a variety of expectations.
Did I like this book? Well, it’s…complicated.
Initially, after beginning this long awaited “prequel” or as Dekker would want us to see it as -- the completion of his epic series that could be used as beginning or an ending – I was disappointed.
Yet as I continued to read, “Green” grew on me.
Not quite mid-way through, I decided to “cheat” and actually read reviews about this book. There were some problems I had right away and I needed to know if others were having the same problems I was experiencing.
For example: I had no recollection that the “Books of the Histories” were even hinted at in the original three book series. So when they were revealed as being an integral part of this epic story I was sorely disappointed. Dekker, this fantastic, creative and gifted writer -- has used this plot device before in precisely the same way. Blank pages are in these books and an evil being can write on these blank pages and make the written word come true. As an added note – while I have read “Showdown” and “Saint” – I was still unable to understand how this plot device actually works in this series. The idea that a deeply evil character can “write” a truly good character into existence and yet not know the character would become their own nemesis is beyond my comprehension.
Because I view Dekker as an excellent modern author, I expected more than a retread of his often used theme from other books he’s written. I haven’t read the series for the YA crowd but I understand them to be very involved in this “Books of the Histories” theme.
Another retread from other Dekker books is he frequently recalls an evil character who goes by various names, “Marsuvess” who is Billy from his book “Showdown” or “Saint” for example. He is essentially the same named character in this book but Billy is also a character “Ba’al” in “Green”; “Queen” to the great devil-bat who goes by the name “Teeleh”. Confused? So was I and I’ve read all these books!
I also object to Dekker saying you can start at this book or end with it and understand the Circle Trilogy. From my point of view – don’t. If you haven’t read the Trilogy – read it. If you have, reread it before reading “Green.” While Dekker makes an excellent attempt to capsulate and recap the other three books in “Green” it gets to be a bit plodding as well as a bit confusing for someone who has read the Trilogy. I can’t imagine what a person would be going through had they not read the other three books prior to beginning “Green.” Yet very soon, Dekker’s style begins to shine and you are into a compelling page-turner. However, IF this had been my first book of the series, I think I wouldn’t have gone on. I remember my first experience reading the first book in the Circle Trilogy: “Black.” It was an actual experience, not a passive book-reading venture. I was hooked and I could not put the story down. I devoured that book and this from someone who does not do “fantasies.” I do not like worlds where I can’t pronounce the names of the characters. It’s annoying. I can’t be bothered. Normally. But Dekker turned me into a devoted follower when I picked up this novel – the first Dekker book I ever read.
Dekker is a master storyteller – better than Stephen King – yes, you heard me say that – because King has to resort to profanity to bring his characters to life. Dekker makes his characters in this series flesh and blood in fascinating detail and there isn’t a curse word to be found. I defy anyone to tell me why a great writer must use profanity to make their point, any point, or to even define a character. A truly great writer doesn’t need this modern crutch to make any character come alive. He brings the other world the character Thomas Hunter “dreams” himself into – right before the reader’s eyes. I could hear, feel, taste, see this fantasy world and I fell in love with it as I did the characters in the first three books of the Circle. With “Green” he drew me in as well – not as compellingly as he did with “Black”, but I was there, following the action and the worlds Dekker created.
I can honestly say, “Green” was a very good read. It is a wonderful allegory for the Biblical principle of God’s love in general, for the apocalypse on a micro/macro level. I know, that doesn’t actually make sense. How can it be an apocalyptic allegory on a micro/macro level? You’ll just have to read the series to find out!
I am currently rereading the other three and I’m sure when I’m through, I’ll consider the four book collection to be a very great read. Possibly one of the great reads period. Taken by itself, “Green” needs the other three though – so if you don’t buy the hype, and read the other three first, you should be able to dive in as so many readers have, and thoroughly enjoy the worlds Dekker wishes to draw us into.