Friday, October 20, 2017

A Book Review of Black by Ted Dekker

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Fleeing assailants through deserted alleyways, Thomas Hunter narrowly escapes to the roof of a building. Then a silent bullet from the night clips his head . . . and his world goes black.

From the blackness comes an amazing reality of another world where evil is contained. A world where Thomas Hunter is in love with a beautiful woman.
But then he remembers the dream of being chased through an alleyway as he reaches to touch the blood on his head. Where does the dream end and reality begin?

Every time he falls asleep in one world, he awakes in the other. Yet in both, catastrophic disaster awaits him . . . may even be caused by him.

Some say the world hangs in the balance of every choice we make. Now the fate of two worlds hangs in the balance of one man's choices.

Series: The Circle (Book 1)
Genre: Adult Science-Fiction
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; 2 Anv edition (July 27, 2009)
Page Count: 432 pages

In my teens, I read the first three books of the Lost Books series, but for some reason I didn't finish the series and then I read the Circle Series Graphic Novel, but I don't think I fully grasped the story at the time. However, Ted Dekker was attending Realm Makers 2017 so I had to read some Ted Dekker! I preordered the Circle series and picked it up at the conference then after getting it signed I started reading it as soon as I got home. After having Ted as a keynote speaker, I really wanted to read some of his work!

The Plot: The premise and storyline were very unique. The story frequently has Thomas fall asleep and wake up in the two different worlds. It definitely has a thriller vibe because there are gunfights, chases, and politics involved, but on the other hand, the story had many fantasy elements when Thomas was in the other world what with a rainbow-colored forest and talking bats. It's a book that's hard to define in a genre, which I think is part of its overall appeal. The story definitely held my interest all the way through, though I would have preferred if the book stuck to Thomas' point of view solely.

The Characters: Thomas Hunter is the main character of the story and from Ted Dekker's speeches I could tell that he put a lot of himself in the character since both lived in southeast Asia for the beginning of their lives then moved to the USA and felt very out of place in a Western environment. Both of them also write novels and both of them were army brats. I believe this really worked since Ted Dekker had such an unusual upbringing. It was interesting seeing more into this character and in turn, more into Ted Dekker. However, I feel like I didn't connect to Thomas as much as I wanted to. He's my age and I also write novels, but I felt like some of his actions like spontaneously kidnapping a lead scientist and entering into the Dark Forest were a little rash and I kept thinking that he should hold back, even though eventually his efforts thankfully bore results. 

The book also went into the two villains' Carlos and Svensson's point of views and Rachelle, Monique's, and Thomas' sister Kara's point of views. This definitely gave more of a thriller vibe, since from what I've read of thrillers they tend to go into many points of views, however, I feel like this took away the connection I had with Thomas. I couldn't bond with him as much as I wanted and, in turn, I didn't bond with these characters as much as I wanted to. None of them really struck me as amazing characters, just pieces in a chess game. 

The one that appealed to me the most was Gabil, but he wasn't in the story very much. I hope he comes back in the later books. 

The Setting: On Earth, the book traveled from Colorado to Atlanta (shout out for my area!) to Bangkok. Though out of these areas, you could tell Ted Dekker was the most comfortable in Bangkok. He even included the characters speaking some Tagalog.

Epic Things: I really liked in the other world that characters could mold wood into shapes. It was a really neat concept and as a sculptor, I think that would be fun. The white lions were also really cool. It's always serene when an animal is white for some reason.

The Theme:
This book had strong themes of the Fall of Adam and Eve. I can't tell you too much because of spoilers, but there are very strong Biblical themes.

Content Cautions: The book is pretty clean. There is some blood when characters are shot, but none of the wounds are graphically described. There's no swearing or sexual content either.

What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

1.) The Author Basing the Protagonist Off of His or Herself - I touch about this more in my post on this topic, but I'm going to give a brief little bit here. Obviously, the main character is based on Ted Dekker. From just hearing two speeches from Ted Dekker, I could figure that out. This definitely helped Ted write Thomas in a deep way since he knew so much about Thomas from life experiences. But I do wonder how he takes any criticism about this character since I could see anything being taken personally since Thomas pretty much is Ted.

How this can be applied to writing:
As shown in this book basing a protagonist off of yourself can be very effective, but it can also have its pitfalls.

Conclusion: Overall, I believe the plot enticed me more than the characters did. I wanted to see how this all would end, but not because I was concerned with the characters necessarily. Since I have the rest of the books already I'm going to continue the series, but it's not to the greatest start for me yet. 

About the Author:
Ted Dekker is a multiple award-winning, New York Times and international bestselling author of over 40 novels. 

His work has reached tens of millions worldwide and has been translated into numerous languages and adapted into major feature films (Thr3e and House). In 2013 NPR readers nationwide named him as one of the top suspense writers of all time.

Ted's passion is simple: to explore truth through mind-bending stories that invite readers to see the world through a different lens. Story is the shortest distance between the human heart and truth, and to this he has devoted his life.

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