Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Book Review - Green

Since Green is part of a series, I shall try to explain the big story first.

The Circle - Black, Red, and White

Every time he dreams, Thomas Hunter goes back and forth between two worlds, fighting evil.  In our world, terrorists wield a deadly virus which threatens to wipe out all humanity.  In the world of colored forests and pools and deserts, the evil black bat Teeleh plots to turn the people against Elyon (Hebrew for Most High), their Creator and Lover.  In both worlds, Thomas must understand the threat, and do what he can to save those he loves.

I love this stories.  They're fast-paced and modern in style, but the sense of parallels to Biblical truths are amazing.  At the heart of them, they're about the Great Romance, the love story God is writing for His people.  They show our utter fallen nature, our complete repulsive and rebellious nature, and yet how God still woos and calls and comes to rescue us.  They show how He wants our hearts, and how He gives us the freedom to reject Him, but how that can never stop His love.    

Green (short summary)
After three books, the series basically concluded, though there were a few odd loose ends hanging.  But it was satisfying.  So I was surprised to see a fourth book come out now, years later.  What else could Dekker do with the series?

Write a Book Zero, apparently.  A beginning and ending.  What a strange idea!  More on that later.

Green starts up years after the end of White, in the world of forests and sand.  Thomas and the Circle are losing hope.  They have waited for Elyon's return for a long time, and Thomas' son, Samuel, wants to rid the world of the Horde forever with his sword.  But the Circle has been told to love their enemy, and Thomas' wife still has hope for the Horde's redemption.  Thomas seeks hope for the Circle, and in the process creates a doorway between the two worlds once again.

Thomas returns to our world.  And unspeakable Evil enters the other world, seeking to crush the Circle's last breaths of hope.

An apocalyptic chain of events follows, and we rush along to the ending, wondering who will believe in Elyon at the end when everything seems hopeless, and who will reject Him and fall into darkness forever.

The ending is strange.  In an odd way, it connects back to the beginning of the series.  Hence, it is "Book Zero."


- First, as confusing as it still is, I think it was very clever to connect the beginning and ending like this.  It was definitely a unique idea!    

- Certain characters did get redeemed, which was marvelous.

- Loved how the theme of waiting and longing and wishing to see signs of God's presence were so similar to our time today.  Come, Lord Jesus!  But in the meanwhile, teach us to live by faith and trust You when all else seems hopeless.

- There were evil vampires.  Yes, this actually made me happy.  I could have done without some of the nastiness, but there was no question that the very idea of vampirism is completely opposite of sacrifice.  One takes life, the other gives it.  And I feel there were still some truths in this book regarding blood's significance (a biblical idea) which I may have missed. 

- Again, wonderful contrasts between good and evil. 


- I don't mind seeing some of a story from evil's perspective, but in my opinion this book went overboard. I kept feeling dirty, reading about the sensual evil and blood lust of the bad characters.  The bad guys get way too much page time, as I see it.  Almost felt like more than the good guys.  Maybe that's why I never felt as close or invested in the protagonists of Green as in the other books.  And not being so invested made me just not care as much about the whole book. 

- For the above reason, I would not recommend this book to kids, whereas I might recommend the other three if I thought they were mature enough.  This one was definitely darker and contained more sensual descriptions.  Those spots really bothered me, and I'm 25.      

- Another certain character didn't get redeemed, which was very bothersome.  Necessarily heartbreaking, perhaps.  But not a wonderful way to end the story.
- Theologically, I was bothered by the ending.  In fact, the structure of the whole thing bothers me, though as I said it was a nifty idea.  But history as circular, not linear?  Maybe Dekker is playing with the idea that God is outside of time, and that therefore it's not as clear-cut and understandable as we think.  But theoretically, the whole series could be seen as an eternal time loop, wherein one character is never redeemed...  Ahh!  The thought drives me crazy.

- Since writing the original three books of The Circle, Dekker has written The Paradise Novels and The Lost Books, all of which apparently tie in somehow to The Circle.  I have not read those, so there were lots of characters and events referred to in Green which I felt I should know about but didn't.  Dekker fanatics who have read those series may find the ties back to other books fabulous.  But not having read them made me confused.  I think there would have been a better flow between Green and the other books if Dekker had written it right after White, before he got so wrapped up in side plots and characters.

My Verdict

I did not think Green was nearly as good as the original three books (Black, Red, and White).  It had some very good moments, and I wanted it to wrap up nicely, but it left me feeling unsatisfied.  Most of the time it just didn't feel like the same series.

I've been debating about whether I would  recommend this book.  I 'spose if you're a Dekker fanatic, or you really want to see some loose ends tied up, go for it.  Then tell me what you thought.  But if you're expecting another book like the first three, I think you'll be disappointed.

Maybe there's a reason why three is such a perfect number.  I rather wish Dekker had agreed.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

For the Sake of My Sisters

(another picture from my mother, taken on the snow day last week) 

I don't have anything monumental to share.  Plenty of little things have kept me busy... 

On second thought, I suppose one of those little things is big enough to post about; I've started hanging it with our youth group at church.

Depending on my reader, the topic of youth group might be controversial.  I might be making everyone shake their head in wonder at my confused and unwise little head, either regarding my past ideas or my current stance (again, depending on my reader).  So if you're getting ready to throw snowballs of disagreement, please throw gently, and don't put rocks in them! ;-)  This is my journey.  Yours may be different.  Let's love each other anyways, shall we?    

Funny, I never thought I'd be helping with a youth group.  Even a year ago I would have protested loudly.  Anything but that!  Some of this had to do with my own feelings of uncoolness (at 25 I can still feel, and unfortunately look, like an awkward 18-year-old).  But that was actually insecurity and pride in disguise.  Also, I thought youth groups were usually more damaging than helpful, since they have potential to splinter family time and lump a buch of immaturity together where it can be even more immature.

Some dear friends (on both sides!) may gasp in shock to hear me say all this, but I think I'm changing my mind: not all youth groups are fundamentally wrong. *gasp! shudder! stagger in shock!* 

Of course I still wish all familes would do everything together.  But until I have a husband to follow who decides how we will do things, and since neither of my parents object, I'm throwing my lot in with my curent church family, full of wise and godly folks.  I was asked to be an adult female presence at youth events, to engage in conversation with girls, to provide that five or ten minutes of attention that let them know they're loved and cared for.

To my own surprise, I was compelled and eager to say yes.  It's already exciting!

I still have my reservations.  (Hope those are allowed!) I still believe youth group can be damaging if it's only a way the younger set isolates itself from the rest of the church family.  And I still believe even the best youth group in the world cannot compare with parents discipling their own kids well.

But I also see a church in which those two concerns are largely answered by parents who really are discipling their kids and showing by example what godly adulthood is.  I see young people who serve each other, who serve the younger kids in nursury and AWANA, who serve their families and the community.  And I see little girls growing in young women, girls I know "of" but want to actually know, who I now have the opportunity to hang out with regularly in the midst of their busy schedule.  

Finally, I remember my short time in a different youth group about 8 years ago, when my world was falling apart, and how a dear youth leader's wife showed me love and attention and got me started journaling my thoughts to the Lord.  I've never been the same since.  If I can encourage even one young lady as much as I was encouraged, I would count my time worthwhile.    

That's not an arguement per se, just some of my rambling thoughts on how God is changing me, teaching me to walk with people in real life (Ephesians 4:1-3).  Sometimes my paradigms shift so wildly, it's embarrassing to tell anyone about the shift - ether they can't believe what I think now, or they can't believe I ever thought what I did.  But I want to record these for my own benefit, and perhaps they will encourage someone else, too.

And MBC youth, you're stuck with me and my funny hats, silly accents, and uncoolness for a while! ;-)

~ ~ ~

Now, on a very different note, here are a few thoughtful posts on Christmas I can across lately.  They were so lovely, from two beauty-loving Christian ladies, that I wanted to share them:

The first is from farmer's wife, homeschooling mom, and poetess, Ann Voskamp:

4 Ways to Celebrate Christ in Christmas

And the second is from a sweet southern lady, Lanier Ivester, a homemaker, literary artist, and shepherdess:

Glad and Golden Hours

A fine weekend to you all! 

Friday, December 04, 2009

It actually did snow!

My lovely mother and I took a walk around the neighborhood this morning.  School and other things were canceled because of ice on the roads, so we got to enjoy the fresh lovely whiteness!  And as you can see, I decided such a walk called for a cloak and a bit of melodramatic excitement. 

Here are a few other pictures my mom took:  

Lots of trees had not lost their leaves yet, but they were falling this morning with the snow, like showers of lovely green and gold snow themselves, making such a loud pattering sound!

Beautiful and Christmas-like, eh?

Farewell for now!  I need to get back to work... and I think I need to finish off the snow ice cream.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

"Can you do the Battle Song?"

I am currently drinking Earl Grey tea, reading Hope for Relationships stuff, hearing about the possible snow and ice tomorrow, and listening to the Narnia soundtrack.  And thinking of Samantha, who loved to come into my room while I was staying with her family in college, leap onto the bed, and beg to hear "the Battle song."

Marvelously good times. Don't you love it how certain songs can remind you so strongly of dear places and people and special times?