Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Circle // Ted Dekker // Review

 So, I'm pretty new on Goodreads, and one of my recent reviews was on The Circle Series by Ted Dekker. I shared it with my best friend, and she suggested that I share it on my blog, so that my other blog-reading-friends could hear my opinions. :) So, being the kind of person who takes people up on their good advice, I have henceforth posted the review here. Also, if you would like to follow me on Goodreads, I am now ON IT. 
Which reminds me: I have a couple of different names throughout the internet. Sometimes it's Amaris, sometimes it's Phoebe, sometimes it will be Amy. I'm just letting you know, it's all ME. 
Now that THAT'S cleared up, onto the review!

It's actually WAY thicker than it looks here. :P

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*takes deep breath* FINALLY. I AM FINALLY FINISHED WITH THIS SERIES. It took me forever. I got this huge book with all four books in it for Christmas, and I just now finished it.
It would be absolutely impossible to share all of my opinions on the series as a whole. I'm just going to give the highlights. It's the kind of book that should be read by people. I feel like the book has a lot to say for itself in spite of a few things that I didn't like about it.

First, I feel like this series would be better/more enjoyable if it WASN'T a series. I mean, who wants to read a book for 5 months straight? I got other books I want to read, too! It's not like I can STOP reading this book for awhile and go on to read something else, and then come back to it, because if I do that, I will completely forget what's going on, and who is where doing WHAT. It's that kind of book. You really need to stay with it, or else it won't make sense every time you randomly pick it up. I wish maybe it could be shaved down into ONE, really good, fantastic book. I would buy that.

Secondly, It's kind of hard for me to talk about characters and events, because it would be very easy to spoil it if I did. I do have my list of favorites, however. I loved Thomas. He's the main character (no spoiler there!), and he is SPECIAL. I mean, really. He's a hero, he's a naive kid from Denver, he's a man, he's a world-changer, he's a dreamer. No bullet can stop him (literally). No sword. I love the way he handles just about every situation. He knows where the love is. He's loyal. If I met someone like that in real life, he would be my hero, the one I admire, and I just might marry him! I loved watching him grow up, from his first adventure in Denver as a trouble-making teenager, to the End of the World in the last chapter, as a mighty warrior who fights for good. Yes, good job with the main character.

Third, I can't help but mention that there were TIMES. Times in this book, where there was weirdness. The good thing about this is, the whole book was NOT like that. There were just parts. Parts in the evil queen's lair, parts when Thomas was transitioning into his dreams, parts where a character sells himself to evil, parts where I wondered what in the world I was reading this for. But the thing is, those parts always ended. And they weren't TERRIBLE. They added to the story. And if you think about it in terms of real-life, those parts were absolutely, terribly real.

Fourthly, I must mention the extraordinarily written endings. The ending of Black (Number One) was AMAZING. I can't imagine what it must have been like for people to read the ending of that book and have to WAIT for the next book to come out. It must have been absolute MURDER for them! Black literally ended with a riveting scene cut off right in the middle. I seriously jumped straight into Red (Number Two) because I KNOW that I would not have been able to wait to see how it turned out. It was THAT good.
I really must mention the end of the entire SERIES.
Also sad. But using a word as common and trivial as "sad" seems a tremendous understatement to say the least. The end of this book was literally the end of the world. Where the faithful member's of Elyon's Circle are finally taken up into eternal Paradise, and those left behind are literally devoured by the remnants of Evil. There is a battle. It seems Evil will WIN. But does evil win in the end? No, dear friend, it does NOT. This book, the entire thing, from the beginning of time when man turns away in disobedience, to the middle where Elyon's faithful few are beginning to doubt His very existence, to the very, VERY end, when Evil is conquered in a great and terrible battle Once and For All. It's a picture of our own earth. We, as Christians, are His Circle. His faithful few.
There will be deception, there will be tragedy, there will be doubt, there will be deception. But we must never doubt! Never doubt His promise, dear friend!
Are you seeing what this series did to me?!
Anyways, let me get back to the ending! Not only was it a terrible and beautiful picture of the ending of the world, it was A WONDERFUL ENDING FOR A BOOK, just in general terms! It was written well. There are shocking deaths, devastating betrayals, and hope given for the very last chance to dive deep.

At the back of my version, there is a couple of pages of an interview written with Ted Dekker, in which he explains his reason behind the idea of the characters Diving into Elyon's Lake to let themselves be washed and renewed by His goodness.
I quote:

"I was once in a time of meditation and I imagined God as a lake. And I knew immediately that I had to write a novel in which one could dive into God as if He were a physical reality. To do so I had to write a story in which all that we see as spiritual was recast as physical. The colored forest was born. As was the forbidden circle and the lake. I then took the idea further and imagined retelling all of redemptive history within the context of this world."

The best thing about his representation of God's "redemptive history" in the story is that, it's not done in a boring or cliched manner. It is done so that you are so engrossed into the lives of the characters, so taken in by his storytelling of the events and situations in the book, that you can hardly tell that you are reading that 'retelling of history', as he describes, yet in the end, you are touched in an emotional way because of what you read about love, and the Blood.
It is not boring. I have read books where they add scriptural parallels within their story to exemplify points in there story, to give it a redeeming quality. Those books are well intentioned, but I find they are often cliched, boring, and even disappointing. Write your own story! If I want to read about the Bible, I'll read my ACTUAL Bible. I'm not saying I don't I like it when a person gets saved in a book, I'm saying that it's easy to just copy God's redemptive story, write it into your book, giving it a couple of twists and turns to 'refashion' it and 'move' non Christians.
I'm saying that you COULD do that, but it must be done WELL. I must NOT feel, as a reader, that I am being preached to. I open your book to read a story.
Give me a story, not a sermon!
Ted Dekker does his story VERY. WELL. When I read his book, I embraced the pure and simple truth displayed as Elyon loves his people, and I did NOT feel preached to. I felt connected to God's love in a real and personal way. I did not feel like Dekker thrust the gospel onto me.
I felt... well, I felt like I was reading one of the greatest books ever written.

Overall, I still have a huge wealth of mixed feelings on how I feel about this series. I guess I would have to divide it into parts. There were some parts that were my FAVORITE of all books that I've ever read. Then there were OTHER PARTS when I questioned why I even picked up the book to read it in the first place. It was like that the entire way through the book. In my head, constantly: "I hate this book... wow, I LOVE this book... Why am I even reading this?... Wow this is SO GOOD... I don't have time for this book, I have better things I could be doing... Wow I'm really glad I got this book for Christmas... and etc.! On and on and on.

But you know, I think it's the kind of book that SHOULD be read by people. It's a beautiful picture of Christ's love for His bride, and the Fall of Man, and the importance of the Blood, but without the preaching, and as much adventure and thrill as you can wrap your head around. The book is really a big mouthful to chew on, but I think that people ought to give it a try, because it is a tremendously good book. Maybe even a GREAT one. 

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