Dekker’s Sinner Closes Out “Books of History” Series
- Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Author: Ted Dekker
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
It’s the future, and Americans have lost the right to protest and free speech. With the first Hispanic-American president in office and Muslim-Americans outnumbering Caucasians, no one dares to discuss racial or religious differences, for fear of being arrested for “hate crimes.” It’s a world where “religious tolerance” has come to mean intolerance—if you’re a Christian.
In Sinner, best-selling author Ted Dekker takes us back to Paradise, Colorado, which was once dominated by the evil Marsuvees Black. We follow Billy Rediger and Darcy Lane, who survive a startling research project, only to discover that they may be the most powerful people on earth. We also follow Johnny Drake, who leaves the desert and leads 3,000 brave souls in protest, including Kat Kivi, a passionate witch-turned-believer.
Ted Dekker’s books have sold more than a million copies, which means that he has a considerable following. Sinner concludes his series, called the “Books of History,” which is broken down into three trilogies (“Circle,” “Lost” and “Paradise”) of nine one-word titles: Black, Red, White, Showdown, Saint, Chosen, Infidel, Renegade and Chaos.
In his introduction to Sinner, Dekker addresses the question of the ideal reading order for his books. The most obvious would be that readers should tackle the series in chronological order. As Dekker rightly points out, however, does reading Genesis before Matthew effect your appreciation for either? Not necessarily. His conclusion, therefore, is that readers can enjoy the books in any order they choose, with the suggestion that they at least read the three titles within each trilogy in order.
It’s telling that readers can do this. Good novelists understand that when they create many books in a series, each one really does need to stand alone. And Dekker is a good novelist. Although he’s somewhat heavy-handed with “telling” rather than “showing,” his characters are well-drawn; his plots are complex and fast-moving, and he keeps up the suspense throughout, with a satisfying (albeit predictable) conclusion. Sometimes, however, Dekker’s agenda gets in the way.
He is painting a portrait of a very scary future for Christians, and he clearly wants us to worry—even if his ultimate goal is to motivate us to take action. I haven’t read his other books, so I am at a disadvantage when it comes to comparisons. But from what understand, this book hits the “beware” agenda hardest. Reading it, you can’t help but understand that Dekker wants us to be afraid.
He would probably deny that Sinner contains a fear-based message, but like so many other Christian books, you can’t help but feel just a little paranoid as you read. Is it legitimate? Maybe. Listening to all of the video interviews Dekker has given, you certainly hear his passion. Yes, it’s for his characters and the story. But Dekker sounds far more like a passionate youth leader than a novelist. In fact, he hits this one so hard that you can’t help but wonder why he chose the latter rather than the former—even if he can write well.
“Things are going to change,” he says, in one of several Web interviews about the book. “Don’t take for granted that you will always believe what you believe today. Just because you believe X, Y, Z doesn’t mean that the forces of society—your friends, everything you see and hear on TV and the movies—isn’t going to change the way you think.”
“There’s a strong likelihood that you will change what you believe, unless you pay attention, unless you think carefully,” he adds. “And that is what this book is about. We need teenagers to consider who they are and to stand in the gap. You are not today the Spartans, the 300 that stood against the Persian army, but the 3,000 who will stand for Christ, who will stand for the belief that you have always held and you will not let the winds of change blow away all that you have always held precious. That’s what happens in “Sinner” and that’s what needs to happen in your youth group.”
Dekker has concluded his best-selling series with yet another epic thriller—one that is sure to resonate with many readers. He has a very important message, too. But is fear the means to communicate this message? Is fiction the best place for teaching and preaching? I used to think so. But the older I get, the more I conclude that when it comes to storytelling, a little goes a long way.
For more information and to see video interviews with author Ted Dekker, please visit www.TedDekker.com.
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