GREEN by Ted Dekker
The Weak Link In This Circle
Fans of Ted Dekker’s “Circle” Trilogy have been waiting none-too patiently for the release of his sequel/prequel to the series, “Green”. This fan has anyway, since the day I heard it was on its way to the bookstores.
Green is touted as being “the beginning and the end,” the book that completes the Circle. Readers new to the series are told they can start with Green and then read through Black, White, and Red, or start with Black and end the series with Green. Either way, the story is complete, the Circle unbroken.
This fan disagrees.
Had I read Green before the original Circle Trilogy, I would have experienced none of the magic and wonderment of discovery, the need to devour page after page, the sense of slowly losing myself to the future world of the colored forest, furry rousch, ugly shitaki, scabs and forest dwellers, heroes and villains, juxtaposed with a current-day race to save the earth’s population from destruction by madmen intent on releasing a deadly virus. The fate of both History and Future are dependant on the actions of our hero, Thomas Hunter, who travels between them in his dreams.
I cracked open Green eager to return to Thomas Hunter’s dual existence and an all-new adventure. I was more than curious as to how Green was going to begin and end the series, but I had no doubt Mr. Dekker would amaze me…again. As I read, I kept the thought in the back of my mind, “How would I like Green if I were reading it first, not having read the other three?”
Having finished, I’m afraid the answer is, “Not much.”
A good portion of Green is spent going over what happened in the first three books, plus the seven books that accompany and continue the original Circle Trilogy. For example, Chapter One opens with a beautiful, moving reenactment of the Great Wedding, only to be interrupted after just six paragraphs with a page-length review of what has happened over the past 10 years, what the Great Wedding is, and why they are reenacting it, before finishing the scene.
Reminders and rehashes of the previous books are sprinkled liberally throughout the book. Had I read Green first, I would know much of what was to come. I would even know the main theme of the allegory, having it spelled out quite clearly by a couple of characters. Part of the sheer pleasure I got from the Circle Trilogy was unfolding the story page by page, chapter by chapter, and book by book; uncovering symbols and allegories and connections. Meeting new characters and mourning deaths. Reading Green first would have robbed me of that joy.
As a sequel, it works…somewhat. Mr. Dekker has written some amazing scenes, visually and spiritually enrapturing. I did occasionally find myself weeping for Eloyn with Thomas, gasping in awe or in disbelief, and was reminded of why I was so captured by the Circle Trilogy. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough of those scenes, the novel being bogged down with going over the past (or the future, as the case may be.)
SPOILER ALERT: You may want to skip ahead if you don’t want to know too much! I’ll give you the ALL CLEAR when you can start reading again. ;)
Green slips from the symbolic allegory of the Circle Trilogy to almost-Biblical fiction, recreating John’s Revelation of Jesus Christ. There is no wondering, no mistaking at all what is happening here.
Green doesn’t end where Revelation does, though; Mr. Dekker’s ending is extra-Biblical, and conveniently crafted for the very purpose of being able to advertise Green as the beginning as well as the end. I sensed it coming and I shouted in my mind, “NO! Don’t do it! Please, Ted, don’t do it.” He didn’t listen to me. He did it.
If you’ve read Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, you’ll groan with me. Stephen did it right, though. Ted left me shaking my head with disappointment. Not only does it make no sense logically (I’d go so far as to say it’s silly,) it is unbiblical. I’ve been trying to work out how it fits theologically, but I’ve been unable.
ALL CLEAR: End of Spoiler alert.
Green might work best as a stand-alone novel, an “extra” to the series. It is too revealing to be a prequel, and too history-laden (pardon the pun) to be a sequel. I caution the reader to remember that Green is not scripture, but a novel. And if anyone can explain how the ending fits into Biblical theology, I’d like to hear it.
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)