Ted Dekker will always have a very special place in my heart. His stories have inspired me and shaped my faith since I was a teenager, and I’ll always be grateful to them for the way they revealed truth to me in new and vibrant ways. His books will always have a shelf in my house. I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear that Dekker was returning to the world of the Circle, the series that impacted my faith more than anything else outside of the Bible I’ve ever read.
The theological impact of this book was insane. There was so much good stuff here. It had the kind of depth that required closing the book and just trying to digest for a minute before you can keep reading. And the return to Other Earth, the realm we first visited in in the Circle series, was absolutely wonderful. This book made its mark on me, without a doubt. But it wasn’t perfect.
I’ve come to the realization in recent years that I’ve grown as a reader, but Dekker hasn’t grown with me. He has great stories to tell, and amazing spiritual insights to share. But there’s something about his writing itself that just doesn’t translate for me anymore. Maybe it’s the sheer amount of incredible literature I’ve consumed in recent years, but I’ve become harder to please when it comes to prose. As I said, Dekker has great stories to tell.
But that’s exactly the problem. He tells instead of shows. This didn’t used to bother me because I didn’t know the difference. However, I know the difference now. While this telling works incredibly well for the theological aspects of his book, and even works well for the world-building, it isn’t so successful when it comes to character development and motivations. Even though I wanted desperately to connect with our main character, I never quite could. And the rest of the characters felt even less real to me.
While I had my problems with the writing, I still really enjoyed the book. The plot itself was very compelling. Rachelle, our main character, is a blind teenager living in a little community completely closed off from the rest of the world. When she receives her sight, she becomes the catalyst for a spiritual battle that will transcend worlds. You see, she’s a Mystic. The 49th, in fact, the number of completion multiplied by itself. It’s her job to find five Seals that will provide true sight to those in spiritual darkness and conquer the forces of evil. For this, she will need to attune her mind to the guidance of Elyon, Justin, and the Spirit of Truth. Dekker portrays the Godhead with such eloquence that his words have impact my own view of God in all of His fullness.
This is a really good story. I hate that I can no longer connect to Dekker’s writing as well as I could in the past, but I still highly recommend the book if you’re looking for a wild adventure that will radically impact your faith. I can’t wait to read the second half of the story; I need to know how it ends!
(Side note: While this duology will stand perfectly well on its own, there’s a lot here for fans who have been with Dekker from the beginning. Besides the obvious relation to the original Circle series, there are also references to the Paradise trilogy, the Outlaw Chronicles, and even his nonfiction works. I love when authors reference their own work like this, and Dekker is incredibly good at it!)
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