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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Infidel (Ted Dekker book) » User review

"Do not let anyone talk down to you because you are young"

  • Feb 20, 2010
Rating:
+4
Warning, if you haven't read the first book in this series, Chosen (The Lost Books, Book 1) (The Books of History Chronicles), then don't read this review as it may spoil the first book for you.

Ted Dekker doesn't seem to understand that just because these new books are marketed for a teenage audience, that doesn't mean he has to dumb down his books. Although I very much enjoyed this book, it still lacks the allegory, the wonder, the vastness and heart of his original Black/Red/White (The Circle Trilogy 1-3). It's almost as if he doesn't trust this younger audience to be able to comprehend the complexity of the originals so he strips them down to their bare bones and voids any and all subtleties to create this new series. These books are good entertainment, but after the initial fun they are ultimately lacking in depth. The original series, as well as Dekkers older books such as Showdown (Paradise Series, Book 1) (The Books of History Chronicles) and Thr3e were not only great fun, but were also quite deep. The new Circle series by comparison seems shallow and heartless. Note to Dekker, most of your readers were teenagers to begin with. Just because we are younger does not mean we are incapable of understanding deeper works of fiction. "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity" - Timothy 4:12. Ted Dekker simply doesn't understand how teenagers think. Sure, we'd like to be heroes who follow our hearts without fear of consequences, but in reality most teenagers simply want to get by. That, from the start of this series, has been Dekker's major weakness. He doesn't know how we think, how we talk, how we love and fear. You can't write from the POV of teenagers unless you have a firm grasps of how the teenage mind works, and unfortunately Dekker doesn't seem to have that. He takes a major step towards understanding in this book, but he's still not there, and won't be until he's willing to throw out the pre-conceived notions most adults have about teenagers and learn how we really think. Here's to hoping he manages to do it some day.

Infidel is the second chapter in Ted Dekker's new series "The Lost Books" and picks up exactly where Chosen leaves off. Johnis, Silvie, Darsal and Billos are basking in the glow of their new found glory. They are the talk of the entire Seven Forests after turning back an entire Hord army and saving the forests from almost certain destruction. Darsal and Billos thrive in the spotlight, while Silvie and Johnis don't quite know what to do with their new fame and the endless stream of well wishers. the bond between the four heroes, and their devotion to the quest to recover the lost seven Books of History has never been stronger then it is right now, but that all changes when Johnis learns that his mother, thought to have been killed by the Hord while searching for medicine for Johnis, may still me alive and living as a slave in the Hord city of Thrall. Now Johnis must chose; does he leave the forests in a desperate and suicidal attempt to rescue his mother, or does he continue his quest to find the five remaining lost books at the expense of his mother?

After the incredible ending that Dekker wrote for Chosen, I fully expected him to write a great story right off the bat; unfortunately though he fails miserably to deliver. The beginning of this book, and by that I mean the first 70 pages or so, are simply horrible. Johnis terns from a semi annoying character to the most arrogant self righteous prick I have ever seen in my entire life, and the rest of the main characters tern into completely incompetent fools who follow his will no matter how crazy he may be despite knowing he's wrong because he shames them into it. Every time they raise logical questions about his mindless plans, he says "wasn't I right about the water? Wasn't I right about the books? Wasn't I right about his, or about that, and didn't we almost die because you didn't listen?" and then they do what he wants. For the first 70 pages of this book i not only didn't like Johnis, but actually wished for bodily harm to be done to him for his arrogance and his air of superiority. He's the chosen one darn it, and no one had better question him. He may no longer be a stereotype, no, but at least for the first part of this book he was nothing but an SOB. In the course of a day he managed to kill 130 Forest Guards because he was "thinking with his heart" and not his brain. Mesa thinks this thinking with your heart thing may be a bit overrated. After the first 70 pages I was nearly ready to put the book down and declare Dekker a has been and move on to another writer.

Another problem I found annoying was the books predictability. Almost every plot twist, almost every turn was easy to see coming. Although I don't necessarily think the book is bad for that, I think it could have been a whole lot better if it were a little harder to see what was coming next.

That all changed, however, when Johnis, Silvie, and a minor character from the first book Jackov, travel to the Hord city. There, a completely awful and stupid story terns into one of Dekkers finest. for the first time in the entire series Dekker attempts to bring back the wonder and excitement of the original series, and although he doesn't quite manage to recreate it perfectly, his attempt was well appreciated and made this book a million times better then what it could have been. Dekker has already written about Hord cities in White (The Circle Trilogy, Book 3) (The Lost History Chronicles) but the detail he was able top cram into the 240 large print pages of this book was nothing short of incredible.

The greatest strength of this book I think is that fact that instead of de-humanizing the Hord as he had in the first book and in Red (The Circle Trilogy, Book 2) (The Books of History Chronicles) he brings to light the fact that these Scabs, the very people who the Forest Guard have sworn to destroy, are just like the Forest Dwellers. Except for the skin disease that covers their bodies, the Hord is almost exactly like those who bath in Elyons lakes. They have their own culture, their own way of livening. They love, they hate, they dance with joy and cry in sorrow. They know fear and suffering as well as any man who lives in the Forests, and are beautiful in their own way. these "infidels" as the religious leaders in the forests like to call them, are loved and cherished by Elyon every bit as much as the Forest Dwellers, and that's what makes this story so touching. Where the first book lacked heart and the beginning of this book lacked understanding, the second part of this book brings these crucial elements back in full force.

Probably the most brilliant plot twist Dekker has ever made was the introduction of a little Scab girl, Karas, into this story. It may not be as big a shock as the ending for Thr3e or Skin, and may not be as exiting as anything found in House and Obsessed, but in one page Dekker puts heart into his story. The sub plot with Johnis slowly starting to love this incredibly adorable little nine year old girl as if she were his own sister is the most touching thing I've ever read in a Dekker book. Dekker has always managed to throw love into his books, but it was always the love of a man for a woman, but never the love of an older sibling to a youngster. As a teenager and older brother I've never loved a girl so much to die for her, but I do love my little brothers and my older sister enough to do so for them. The relationship between Johnis and Karas struck a very special cord with me. She was so darn adorable, so young and innocent, that my heart ached for her whenever she was in pain and leapt for joy when she experienced happiness. She is, far and away, the best thing to enter Dekkers mind since the worm sludge in Showdown. She not only humanizes the Hord but also turns Johnis from the most arrogant character on the face of the planet to a caring, even likeable guy.

Although Ted Dekker still hasn't recaptured the magic of his pre Saint (Paradise Series, Book 2) (The Books of History Chronicles) days, he took a major step closer to returning to where he once was. The rest of the series has amazing potential and could really be Dekkers crowning achievement if he sticks to a few simple rules.
1) Avoid stereotypes. Continue to develop the main characters into rich 3 dimensional characters.
2) Don't dumb it down. Bring back the allegory and depth of the original series.
3) Make the characters likeable. Don't make me want to hurt teh main characters.
3) Don't turn your back on Karas; make her an active part of the story.
4) And finally, write from the heart.
You can be sure that I will be at the book store in May when the two follow up novels, Renegade (The Lost Books, Book 3) (The Books of History Chronicles) and Chaos (The Lost Books, Book 4) (The Books of History Chronicles) are released. Also, look for Dekkers next book Adam coming out in April.

Re-read value; low.
 
 
 
I hate to give anything by Ghibli a negative review, trust me it has NEVER happened before, but Whis I hate to give anything by Ghibli a negative review, trust me it has NEVER happened before, but Whis I hate to give anything by Ghibli a negative review, trust me it has NEVER happened before, but Whis

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More Infidel (Ted Dekker book) reviews
review by . February 09, 2009
Johnis, Silvie, Darsal, and Billos continue on their quest in this second installment of Ted Dekker's Circle Series. Having just helped the Forest Guard thwart a major Horde attack, they now find themselves settling into their new leadership roles. Johnis soon learns that his missing mother might be living as a prisoner among the Horde. Despite his promise to seek out the hidden Books of History, Johnis decides to follow his heart back into danger and find a way to save his mother. Soon Johnis and …
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Jonathan J.D. Lane ()
Ranked #119
I am a member of the US Air Force and presently serve overseas at RAF Mildenhall about three hours north of London. I grew up in Pappilion Nebraska and Crestview Florida, but since joining the Air Force … more
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About this book

Wiki

From Chosen to Traitor?

After being stretched to their limits, the four heroic young Forest Guard recruits--Johnis, Silvie, Billos, and Darsal--are pulled into deeper danger on their mission to secure the seven lost Books of History.

Celebrated as a hero, Johnis's world is shattered when he learns that his mother may not be dead as presumed but could be living as a slave to the Horde. Throwing caution to the wind, he rushes to her rescue.

But this is precisely what the Horde has planned. Now he will face a choice between Silvie, whom he is quickly falling for, and his sworn duty to protect the Forest Dwellers. How can he save those he loves without betraying his own people?

In the end, one will be revealed as the Infidel. And nothing will be the same for the remaining Chosen.

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Details

ISBN-10: 1595543635 (hbk.)
ISBN-13: 9781595543639 (hbk.)
Author: Ted Dekker
Genre: Fiction, Christian Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Date Published: January 2008
Format: The lost books, bk. 2
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