Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Have I ever said how much I love Ted Dekker? (Okay, okay, I know...how many books does he have now? 25? 30? It's about that many times.) I realize he's not everyone's cup of tea. He's an intense guy who's intensely passionate about God and whose intensity bleeds out of the pages of his books into your own heart as you read. Lately, I'd started to find a lot of his books, mainly his thrillers, similar. Still good, but not my favorites. Still intense and meaningful, but not hitting me in quite the same way as earlier novels. Still worth reading.

But Outlaw is brand new. It's not strictly a thriller, more of a drama, but it has many of the elements of Dekker's suspenseful stories, and then some.

It's, perhaps, a more personal story for Dekker, who grew up as a missionary kid in New Guinea where this novel is set, among a native cannibalistic people from whom he no doubt drew much inspiration for the fictional Tulim natives of the book. Dekker admits as much in an author's note. As the daughter of missionaries myself, I have long wanted to hear more of Dekker's personal story, and while this isn't quite it, it's closer than ever before.

Outlaw, which, let's be clear, is still fiction, is a story about a woman who follows a dream to the other side of the world only to find herself captured and enslaved by a savage, proud people, a tribe of undiscovered headhunters in the most remote and inaccessible corner of the earth. Alone, reeling from the loss of her two-year-old son (as a mother of two young ones myself, I ached with her), terrified, she believes the dream was a fantasy and that God has forsaken her. Slowly, difficultly, she bows to the laws of her new world, knowing she will never escape it.

I don't want to tell you the rest of the story, but of course, with Ted Dekker, you know it doesn't end there. This is a story about identity, who we are, or think we are, versus how God sees us. This story is rich with beauty on so many levels. My grandparents worked with a tribe of natives in the jungles of Peru, and I have always had trouble seeing the beauty in a culture that is so primitive, even though I've lived on the mission field (though not with natives) myself. When Outlaw began, I felt the same way, but somehow, through the journey, I began to see differently. Dekker makes his characters accessible, even when their whole system of beliefs is foreign, but of course, it helps that he uses a main character who is much more familiar to us.

Even more than the beauty of the culture and the land is the beauty of Dekker's insight into life and God's heart and eternal values. As Dekker puts it in Outlaw, the person we think we are is actually just a costume that goes insane with the fears of the world, but our souls, who we truly are, stripped of our bodies, are perfectly safe and perfectly loved.

Dekker puts it all together into a fascinating story of blackest evil versus purest light, his signature stamp, but with powerful new themes to explore and a terribly beautiful new setting to immerse yourself in. For fans and newbies to Dekker alike. If you've never read Ted Dekker, here's a good place to start. Five stars.

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