Saturday, June 4, 2011


This is the first time I've ever had the pleasure of reviewing a Ted Dekker book that wasn't yet released. I normally have to read my Ted Dekkers in hardcover because I can't wait, but this time, my sister-in-law brought back an advance reader's copy of a book I've been excited about for some time. It comes out in September and is co-written with Tosca Lee, author of Demon: A Memoir, reviewed here. I heard Dekker and Lee speak about a year ago. At that time, I had no idea who she was, but Dekker was excited to be working with her and praised her books highly. If you don't remember me mentioning this before, Ted Dekker is one of my favorite authors for the way in which he pushes the boundaries of faith in fiction. I hesitate to call his works Christian fiction, not because he isn't Christian but because they are so different than Christian fiction, so much more in-depth and real and meaningful...while also being excellent thrillers.

Forbidden is the first in The Books of Mortals Trilogy, one book being released each year, starting this September. It reveals a world 500 years in the future from ours, a world in which emotion has been eradicated, except for fear, allowing there to be Order and peace worldwide. No one feels anger, so there is no war and there are no weapons. Everyone lives in obedience for fear that they won't receive Bliss when they die. There is no passionate love, only a sense of duty and loyalty to family members.

But there is a vial of blood that has the power to return some of these emotions to whomever drinks it, five portions for five people. Rom is thrust unwillingly into a position to protect the vial, and curious about its importance, unknowing of its power, he drinks a portion and seems to wake from the dead. When it becomes clear that there is more to fear than losing Bliss, that there are guards who will kill people with weapons that aren't supposed to exist for even knowing about the vial of blood, Rom runs, but in order to convince his friends that he's not crazy, they must drink too. Thus, five people wake from the dead and become embroiled in a plot to keep the throne of the world from another man who's been woken by other means, a man who feels anger, passion, ambition...but no love.

As usual, Dekker hasn't written just another thriller. With Lee, he has explored in new ways one of the deep truths of Christianity: Love and what it would mean to the world to live without it. In this case, his interpretation is that we'd all be walking dead. Forbidden is a love story, a thriller, and a statement of faith without once using the names God or Jesus. I'm sure it would rub some Christians the wrong way, but I love that about Ted Dekker. No other author I know tries to shake up and wake up the Church like he does. His novels aren't always even written for the believers. They're meant to bring everyone to an understanding of who God is, stripped of all we call religion.

Faith aside, on a purely fictional level, this is not my favorite book of Dekker's. He's been known to give surprise endings and twists or to take his characters to the lowest places of depravity, creeping the reader out with grotesque images of sin. This book is still plenty dark, don't get me wrong. I'll just have to see what I feel about the series when it is over. It's certainly a worthy addition to his collection, and Tosca Lee seems to be a great partner. Best Dekker or not, I highly recommend it to all readers.

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