Thursday, December 24, 2009

"Green" by Ted Dekker [Book Review]

This is the Publisher's Summary of Green:
At Last . . . The Circle Reborn
The story of how Thomas Hunter first entered the Black Forest and forever changed our history began at a time when armies were gathered for a final battle in the valley of Migdon. Green is a story of love, betrayal, and sweeping reversals set within the apocalypse. It is the beginning: the truth behind a saga that has captured the imagination of more than a million readers with the Books of History Chronicles.
But even more, Green brings full meaning to the Circle Series as a whole, reading as both prequel to Black and sequel to White, completing a full circle. This is Book Zero, the Circle Reborn, both the beginning and the end. The preferred starting point for new readers . . . and the perfect climax for the countless fans who’ve experienced Black, Red, and White.

"Green" is advertised as being both the beginning and the end, functioning as both a prequel and a finale to Dekker's "Black," "Red," and "White" books. So when I began reading it, having never read any of the other three before, I went into it expecting that it would indeed work as a prequel as promised. It did not. I was lost for the first 1/3 of the book and am even still confused on alot of points. Advertising this book as being one you could either begin or end the series with, was in my opinion, a mistake. It's extremely difficult to stay interested in a book when it leaves you confused far into the book. There has to be the right balance of mystery and revelation and, while it may have had the right balance for a finale, "Green" tipped the scales into frustration as a prequel.

To be honest I felt like the plot was missing some large important chunks that would have fleshed out the story and made it understandable and enjoyable. I imagine those tidbits would be found in "Black," "Red," and "White." Now to be clear, "Green" was not a slow book. The story was definately happening. It was that as a reader new to the series, I was bogged down by not understanding what was going on for most of the book.
I found alot of the spiritual and moral elements in this book to be misleading and disturbing.
The character "Teeleh" seems to be representative of Satan. The head demons are referred to as "queens" and the rest are "shataiki" which are in the form of black bats.
Angels are portrayed as cute fuzzy little white bats called "roush." I was kind of offended at this since the Bible describes angels as giant fearsome warriors. The roush in "Green" seem to have the purpose of show up, say something cryptic and uncomforting, and then waddle off.
The character Elyon which seems to represent Jesus is described much like Peter Pan. A "mischeivous" water sprite who never grows up. This was very offensive to me. My savior is not some eternal child and "mischeif" (means stirring up trouble) is a character trait of the devil, NOT God.
Elyon has done something to the water in the lakes and rivers. The book seems to say that the waters used to be green but are now red with the blood of Elyon because was murdered in the water but that story is not explained.
Horde is the name for the unbelievers, who are easily recognized by their crusty scabbing skin which is a result of being infested with demon larvae. The Albinos are those who do not have the scabbing disease. They do not have the scabs because they have drowned themselves in the red lakes. (I think I know what symbolism Dekker was going for there.) The red waters keep the disease away.
Ba'al is described to a tee as Grima Wormtongue from LOTR, grotesque skin and fingernails and creeepy voice included. If you're having trouble imagining the scabbing disease, just remember the scene in LOTR where Gandalf exorcises the possessed King Theoden.
The Albinos, which seem to represent Christians, are nasty and spiteful. They treat Thomas' wife, a convert from the Horde, like she's STILL Horde. The majority of them are easily led and have no conviction of their own, just blow with whatever wind whispers doubt into their hearts. They refer to the Horde as "Scabs" because of their disease and speak of them spitefully. Granted, the Horde are ever trying to kill the Albinos, and the Albinos live in hiding in a valley out in the desert to escape the death sentence. But they preach love the Horde and then as soon as Thomas' son suggests that they instead slaughter the Horde in the name of Elyon, the majority of the Albinos don't seem to resist the idea very hard.
Then there are the Forest Guard who have characteristics of both Albiono and Horde. They claim to be on the right side like the Albinos, but they have the scabbing disease and are amassing an army to kill the Horde. They live in the forest and are also on the Horde's most wanted list with the Albinos. These are who Thomas' wayward son goes to initially with his plan to unite and slaughter the Horde. I am not sure who they are supposed to represent. Perhaps "lukewarm Christians" who claim the name but refuse to change in their hearts. This is a parallel I do appreciate the significance of. I think alot of authors leave out the middle ground because it's for God to decide who is and isn't lukewarm. I think the fact that "Green" is fictionalized leaves an opening to mention that there IS a 'middle' ground that thinks they fall on the Right side but do after all fall on the Wrong, and I'm pleased to see that Dekker took that opportunity to mention it. We need to remember that true salvation is soul deep.
One thing that was supremely disturbing was the descriptive occult ritual scenes. The first one of which described the "scab" king and queen going to the evil preist Ba'al's temple in the middle of the night. There is a sacrificed decapitated goat on the altar and the head is described as bleeding on a plate nearby. Ba'al drags his finger through the blood before enjoying a taste. Then he makes the king swear allegience to their god (who is of course the devil) by drinking a goblet full of the goat's blood. Later, the prophets of Ba'al slice themselves open repeatedly and drain their own blood on an altar to the demons. Dekker describes it in great nauseating detail.
So my final word is that I would not recommend this book to anyone, Christian or not. I would not recommend it for a non-christian due to the misleading nature of some of the spiritual elements, and I could not recommend it to a Christian due to the disturbingly graphic nature of the rituals as explained above. In a 5 star rating with 5 being buy a copy for everyone I've ever met, and 1 being put it out with the trash, I would have to give "Green" by Ted Dekker a 1.5 for the merit of a fast-paced plot.

This review was written for Thomas Nelson Publishing and I was provided with a copy to review for free. I received no other compensation and my opinion has not been influenced in any way. This review is my personal opinion and perceptions on this book.

After much thought I have decided to post an expanded version of this review on my other blog HERE. Version 2 does contain spoilers and is long, but there were some points I felt the need to cover that could not be addressed in V1.

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