Since Green is part of a series, I shall try to explain the big story first.
The Circle - Black, Red, and White
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.
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.