By: Ted Dekker
I have mixed feelings about this book. When I picked it up at a book sale, I didn’t realize it was Christian. It just looked like a super cool fantasy novel, with an interesting premise. The book was in great condition and I always like to grab one volume trilogies whenever I can find them.
I had high hopes in the beginning. The cover art looked promising, and the story of a man who lives in two worlds, falling asleep in one and waking in the other, not knowing which is real and which is a dream, was intriguing. I loved it at first, with it’s thriller like pace of flipping from one world to the next, danger lurking in both realms. The other world, with the colored forest did seem to have certain religious similarities, but authors draw on these ideas all the time so I didn’t think much of it. About 100 pages into it, I happened to look at the back of the book, just out of curiosity, and there it was, just above the bar-code… Fiction/Christian/Suspense. It was at that moment the story was ruined for me, but I kept reading anyway.
Suffice it to say, I don’t share the same beliefs as the author. I wouldn’t have read the book at all had I realized it was Christian. Even with this new knowledge, I wanted to love the story anyway, but every time religion popped up I lost focus. It wasn’t something I could easily ignore.
My biggest problem with the religion was the portrayal of Elyon (God). Nearly every encounter with Elyon felt overwhelming and completely dominating, and even though it was meant to be a positive thing, I just didn’t like it. I prefer to see God as calm, strong, and loving, in a way that is serene rather than forceful. The rest of the religious aspects were blatant, and despite my extremely limited knowledge of the bible, felt like carbon copies of the basic stories and themes you find there. If the religion had been a more subtle influence in the story, something you had to think about in order to find, I might have been able to enjoy it, but it just felt too transparently preachy.
Ignoring religion for a moment, I found the characters to be lacking in complexity. They were simple with little depth, and their choices lacked struggle and conflict. Some were too easily fooled, and while I can understand why given the context, it was a little disappointing.
While the plot was compelling enough for me to seriously consider reading it anyway, I think I’m going to have to let this one go. In the long run, I think I’ll find it more frustrating than enjoyable to read three more books like this one, when there are so many other wonderful novels on my to read list. If you happen to be Christian however, you will probably love this series. I just don’t think this one’s for me. Until next time…