Today it's about time for another book review, and I'm particularly excited to introduce today's book (or, more properly, series). I'll be reviewing Ted Dekker's Circle Series, which many people regard as a masterpiece of Christian literature. You'll see more of my thoughts below, so without further ado, here is my review!
Title: The Circle Series (Black, Red, White, Green)
Author: Ted Dekker
Page Count: 1,553 pages total
Stars: 4 of 5
4 = well-written and a good read
Teaser: After being chased by mysterious gunmen, Thomas Hunter wakes up in an "Other Earth" that he keeps returning to every time he falls asleep. This "Other Earth" at first resembles an unfallen Eden. Soon, however, evil and sin threatened the Other Earth. Bad as this may seem, these catastrophic events in the Other Earth are eclipsed by the threat of a deadly virus about to be unleashed on our Earth. Thomas Hunter gradually becomes a leader in both worlds as he attempts to avert both impending disasters.
Age level: 14+ (mid-teens)
Violence: 3 of 5
3 = definitely some gory portions, especially in Green, but nothing beyond PG-13 material
Romance: 2 of 5
2 = love and romance are a part of the story, in a restrained and godly manner
Language: 1 of 5
1 = a few instances of slight language
Christian worldview: Dekker, as a Christian author, writes an explicitly Gospel-centered novel series along the lines of C.S. Lewis. I admit I was a bit doubtful at first as to how the Gospel would tie into the story and whether it would feel over-spiritual or too allegorical. However, I think on the whole the series managed to reveal true Christianity as it might appear in both our earth and the "Other Earth" without being too cliche or trite. As such, I believe Dekker's Circle Series is a valuable addition to Christian literature.
My personal opinion: I love being able to dig into a long and satisfying series, and Dekker's Circle Series provides exactly that, with the bonus benefit of Christian themes. I was particularly impressed with Dekker's closure of the series and how it formed a sort of circle in and of itself. (I know some others found fault with this circular ending, but I thought it was clever and it resolved my unanswered questions well.)
So then why did I give the series only 4 stars? To be honest, I wasn't always too impressed with Dekker's characters and writing style. His plot, to be sure, is excellent. However, the word choice and sentence structure was occasionally clunky and overall seemed a bit plain and simplistic. The characters, too, didn't always feel alive and real, especially the female characters. On the other hand, as I mentioned above, the plot is truly original, the settings are splendidly crafted (especially his descriptions of "paradise"!) and I loved to hate the villains.
Overall, then, the Circle Series is an impressive work that I would urge any Christian interesting in writing fantasy to read. It's enjoyable, tense, action-packed, and a fascinating glimpse into Christian redemption viewed through the lens of a fantasy world.
Now your turn: have you read the Circle Series or any other Ted Dekker books? Do you like how he incorporates his faith into his stories? Any other comments on his work?