Green, book zero of the Circle, is a provocative novel. Who ever heard of a book ZERO? A novel that is both the beginning and the end of a series? I’ve only read Ted’s young-adult fiction, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was in for a thrilling ride!
One side-note to my review is that I read GREEN while I was very sick with influenza, and so to read about Raison-Strain-B and the sickness of the Horde was very appropriate. I could relate!
(Oh, if you haven’t read it yet, you can read a sample chapter here.)
…Wars, betrayal, disease, and death threaten to once again destroy every living soul. Only a small band of rebels called The Circle, led by Thomas Hunter, stand in the way. But The Circle is fracturing. Betrayal is in the air as the forces of evil gather to crush all that remains of good.
Welcome, lovers and fighters, to The Circle.
Welcome to Book Zero.
Welcome to Green.
That’s a small part of the introduction given at the beginning of the book, and I must say, it is a complicated plot, and coming in at the end of the series, I had a lot of catch-up to do. Ted made this relatively easy with a lot of clear explanations, but it was still hard to follow at times.
(NOTE: Plot SPOLIERS below)
The basics of the plot is that it is a love story … of God for his children, of Thomas Hunter for his son who has rebelled against him, of Chelise for her father and mother who lead the Horde, of Billy and Janae for the darkness that calls them.
It is also a story of the doubting of that love, and the climactic, apocalyptic battle that comes because of that doubt.
Plot & Characterization
The highlight of the book for me was a showdown with the Priests of Teeleh. This was like Elijah vs. the Priests of Baal and Abraham sacrificing Isaac all rolled into one.
I really liked this, but was not sure I believed Samuel’s reaction to the situation. I understand its necessity to the plot, but it bumped me out of the book a bit.
Another minor gripe was that Chelise travels across the desert no less than four times. This could have been simplified greatly, giving more time for meaningful action and dialogue from her.
For Billy and Janae—I didn’t mind reading about them at the beginning, but later it became too dark for me.
Thoughts On The Spiritual
I really like Ted Dekker’s goal to “Shout Truth To The World”, and this he does. He makes the danger of doubt very clear, the judgment of sin unquestionable, the forgiveness of God tangible, the reward of faith beautiful. In all this, he succeeds admirably.
Samuel’s journey, in some ways, reminded me of Saint Julian (by Walter Wangerin, Jr.), so if you’ve read that book, I’d be interested in your thoughts in comparison to the journey of Samuel in GREEN.
One thing that concerned me is the small inference at the end that God is not in control, that somehow our free will can supersede His plan for mankind. But this is a theological debate far larger than this tiny post, and I don’t think Ted’s position here detracts seriously from the book in any way.
Another issue that I thought strange was the idea that demons (shataiki in the book) begin life microscopically as eggs in a host’s skin. This started to sound like “Star Wars” where the Force ended up being from a microscopic creature. Still, this is FICTION, folks, and Ted was having some fun creating a fictional world.
Also, I could never quite pronounce Shataiki smoothly. Maybe it was my fever, but I kept picturing flying shitake mushrooms … very odd for demonic beings!
A Minor Nit
One thing that caused me a bit of head-shaking was the fact that Ted went to great pains to explain things more than once.
I understand that Ted has to make sure people understand, since they may be using this book as the jumping off point into the series—but how many times (for instance) do I need to be told the mating habits of Shataiki? I lost count, but I think it was given three times when one would have sufficed.
Beginning and The End?
How can a book be the beginning as well as the end? I fully expected that half-way through we would find ourselves somehow back at the beginning of something, but it was not so.
The book went merrily to the climax until the very last second, and then, through a plot device, rolled it back around to the beginning. At that point, I could see some other groundwork Ted had laid for this, but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.
The dependence on time travel in the hands of God and Satan was the only thing that allowed this to happen … but then again, interwoven time seems to be a foundation for the entire series, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.
Overall, I enjoyed the book! And it was a great distractor to my own aches and pains being sick. Highly recommended for very mature teens on up. Some disturbing images make it innapropriate for younger teens, but they can always read Ted’s YA books.
Looking back on my experience reading Green as the first novel in the series, I wish I had started with Black instead. I think it all would have made more sense and I would have enjoyed it more.
Still … my hat is off to Ted for coming up with a creative way to get readers to pick up his series fresh!
NOTE: I received GREEN free from Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Bloggers program in exchange for an honest review.