So, when I finished White - Ted Dekker's third book in the Circle trilogy - back about a year ago, I figured Dekker was done with the circle trilogy altogether. He seemed to wrap things up nicely, not really giving any cause to start another book. Then came Green, the fourth book in the Circle series.
Referred to as Book Zero, Green is advertised as being able to be read either as an introduction for new readers of the circle trilogy or as a nice continuation for those that already read the first three books. In essence, the series is a full circle. Quite extraordinary...in concept.
Before I go any further, I would like to state that I have nothing against Green as a story. It was superbly written, as Dekker's other Circle books are, and kept me captivated to the very end. However, I strongly feel this is the wrong book to start out the Circle series with. Anybody who hasn't read Black, Red or White should go back and read them - in that order - and then pick up a copy of Green. I assure you, it will make a whole lot more sense than if you pick up Green and try to get into Dekker's world.
Saying that, I admit there are spoilers ahead. You've been warned.
My brief synopsis of the circle series goes like this: A deadly virus is spread in our world, threatening to kill off the world's population. Thomas Hunter, after being shot in the head one night, begins to dream/travel of another world, our world, but 2,000 years into the future. A world after the Apocalypse has already taken place. A world where God (known in the series as Elyon) has started things over so to say. But evil still resides in the form of a strange bat-like creature known as Teeleh. Teeleh poisons the minds of Elyon's followers, casting them into the desert. The series goes from there into the dynamic relationships between those that have a scabbing disease, known as the Horde, to those that have decided to drown in Elyon's waters - waters that cure the scabbing disease. These are known as albinos. There are also those that have drowned, then turned Horde and then fled into the forests, taking the name of Eramites.
The tension between those that aren't Horde and those that are mounts up in Green, setting the stage for a well-laid Christian allegorical layout. Thomas, by the time Green starts, is trapped in the future world, now the leader of those who have chosen to drown. Many are getting tired waiting - many years have passed since White - for Elyon to fulfill His promise and return to claim the albino as His bride. Bickering and complaining abound while Thomas and his wife, Chelise, once Horde herself, try to keep everyone on track to loving the Horde, avoiding bloodshed. It is Thomas' son, Samuel, who decides to stand up and move everyone to pick up arms to kill the Horde, convincing those that would listen to him that Elyon isn't ever coming back for them and that the time for hiding from the Horde is over with.
These matters escalate when Thomas finds the Books of History that allow him to go back in time, to our world again. Thomas manages to change history as a war between Horde and albino and Eramites begins, facilitated by Teeleh, the source of all evil. Another epic battle between good and evil commences, told in spectacular fashion.
What Dekker began in Black, continued in Red, and ended in White, he only made better in Green. The characters in Green are all older and some have moved on in their lives. It seems that Dekker raised the bar of emotional strife and struggle in this book and even deepened the series' portrayal of faith. The book seems a bit gorier and even a bit more sensual in some areas. Most of it adds to the story though. And I'm glad to see that a book that falls under the Christian Fiction category has taken a few liberties with worldly viewpoints. I’m not saying we have to litter a Christian fiction book with sex and violence, but too many times nowadays I see Christian authors shy away from taking things to an edgy level that might bring about the contrasts of good and evil in a much more profound way instead of sugar-coating everything so it’s easy to swallow. Bottom line: Dekker doesn’t really pull many punches, which pays off for making a great series.
Dekker, as always, does bring about strong values through the story. Faith, friendship, sacrifice and love all play an important part. As does the worship of Elyon. The book doesn't sound preachy and really did a good job of telling a story instead of preaching a sermon. That's what I've always loved about Dekker...well, from what I've read from him, which at the moment is only the Circle series.
Another unique thing about the Circle series is that apparently characters and plot elements from the entire series leak into Dekker's other books, like the Paradise series and the Lost Books. I have yet to check those out but they will definitely be on my list in the coming months.
Now come my ponderings and issues with Green.
By the end of the book, which loops into the beginning of Black, I had a slightly confused mind as to why the book loops to begin with. At the end of Green, before Thomas is sent back to our world by Elyon, he requests Elyon to save his son, Samuel, who ends up dying at the hands of his mother's father, Qurong, the leader of the Horde army. Elyon grants his request, sending him back, but I'm not sure how that resolves how Samuel could be saved. I see how it could give Thomas another chance at saving Samuel because he is starting things - the series - all over again, but he has no memory of what happened before he was sent back, meaning he would more than likely follow the same path that he did the first time around, still resulting in his son's death.
My overall feeling on Green is that it is a great book, especially if you have already read the first three in this series. Ted Dekker's writing style in the Circle trilogy lives on in Green, however fans may find that Green is a bit more violent than the three books prior. The novel goes into great detail to chronicle the blood sacrifices that Teeleh demands and it doesn't shy away from a gore factor. The book even makes connections to vampirism, which I’ll admit threw me off a little. I understand the connections that Dekker makes to vampires, but didn’t understand why he made those connections in a book like this.
I also found that Green seems to be aspiring to a lofty goal trying to bring readers who haven’t read the three books prior up to speed on what is going on in the entire series. It does an okay job of glazing over the more dominating plots, but I fear that readers new to the series are going to be more confused than drawn in by reading Green first. This book is more of an ending that wraps into the beginning, not a starting point so to say.
I think in the coming months I am going to sit down and read Black, Red and White once again. Then I’ll pick up the Lost Books and the
Official website of Ted Dekker