Mar 1, 2013

Black, by Ted Dekker

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Intended Age-Group: adult
Issues of Violence: fantasy violence, "gun" fights, knife violence, assassination, kidnapping
Intimacy Level: kissing, emotional connections
Swearing: none
Recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars

Back-Cover Blurb:
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

Initial Reaction: *****
Black,  by Ted Dekker, is the first book of the Circle Trilogy. I included the back cover blurb because I can't possibly know where to start summarizing. It's a wonderful blend of fantasy and apocalyptic world politics. Try that on for size.

Ted Dekker is a Christian speculative fiction author for adults. Some of his writing is a little too intense for me, but not this series. It's intense, just not too intense. In one reality, Tom Hunter is trying to stop the spread of a world-obliterating virus. He doesn't believe in God or anything spiritual for that matter. In the other reality (The Colored Forest), he discovers a land where God's presence is visible everywhere, encouraging romance and creativity.

I was affected most by the "Colored Forest" side of Tom's reality--the one with physical presence of good and evil and a daily Gathering to delight in God. Some of the interactions of the people with God unnerved me. It bordered on 'weird', but that's because all the people in the Colored Forest fully engaged in God. Unmarred by evil, they delved into vulnerability and expressed themselves through song, dance, tears, etc.

Spiritual Content: *****
When Thomas Hunter enters The Colored Forest , it's thick with spiritual significance. It's similar to a futuristic garden of Eden focused around The Great Romance. The topic of romance, both between us and God and us and each other strikes chords of truth and beauty inside me. 

When Rachelle first sees Tom, she goes through an internal thought process of wanting to "choose" him as her man. There's a small paragraph of her thoughts that strongly captivated the shalom (the way God intended things to be) behind romance:

"Was he a good man? Of course. ALL men were good. Would he pursue her? What man would not romance a woman who has invited him? What what woman would not romance a man who had chosen her? It was the nature of the Great Romance. They all knew it. Thrived on it." (pg. 36)

People choose each other by bringing "wholeness". Such a neat picture of marriage and relationship.

The highlights for me in Black were the imagination and spiritual undertones. I'm growing more and more in love with good Christian speculative fiction novels because I feel like I'm growing spiritually while I'm adventuring. 

Characters: *****
The characters had a lot of adventure and growing, but I didn't feel like they reached a truly human depth. I couldn't see specific character flaws or internal struggles except for the time when the devil is literally sweet-talking a character.

My only negatives come from my own reading preferences. The writing switches points-of-view to new characters throughout the book in order to fill in the reader enough. It was a little disorienting and I felt like the POVs were just snowballing. I wanted to stay in Tom's head, or at least Tom's and one or two other heads.

Overall Recommendation:
This book is action and discovery driven. I still enjoyed the different depths it brought to my thinking. And, even though it's addressing the end of the world, I found the writing incessantly funny. 
The ending is a definite cliff-hanger that doesn't conclude much, but sets the scene for a thick sequel (Red, in case you're wondering).

I definitely recommend this book to adults and maybe even older teens. It encourages deeper thinking and questions about life. It introduces the very personal side of God through His interaction with His people. And it stretches your brain cells.

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at

No comments:

Post a Comment