Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Green: Ted Dekker, 1 January – 4 February, 2011.
My rating: ♦♦♦◊◊
The much anticipated Circle Series book `four of three’ overpromised and under-delivered. The fourth and final outing of the Circle series purported to be prequel and sequel, beginning and end.
It’s true that the four-part story is circular. Green could be placed first or last without being out of sequence. However I would recommend that readers begin with Black, followed by Red, White and finally Green. Green has a great many allusions and concepts which are gradually explained through Black (2006), Red (2006-07) and White (2007) that new readers might find difficult to come to grips with by starting with Green. Also, as the action is set after the events of White, reading Green first would be a massive spoiler for plot developments as deaths and storyline conclusions in the first three books are mentioned.
If Black, Red and White are effectively an allegory for the fall, crucifixion and resurrection, Green is surely an allegory for modern day. As with reality, in Green it has been some time since Elyon walked the earth. His followers are disillusioned, his word questioned and existence debated. Sects and denominations have formed. With Green, Dekker explores the post-salvation pre-rapture period of humanity that the genre often ignores with overall success. He captures the frustrations of the doubters and the desperation of the followers with enough characterisation that both parties are deserving of sympathy.
The `other world’, or our world 2000 years in the future, has a steady supply of action that dips slightly around two-thirds in but is on the whole well-paced. However, the content is much darker and more graphic than in previous novels. Perhaps this is deliberate to emphasise the growing depravity of the Horde, however some of the content is disturbing at best.
Our present-day world, which is now 30 years ahead of real time, falls completely flat. The magic of Black, Red and White was that each world was heading for catastrophe and there were two plots racing against each other. However there is no particular peril in our world and the action there is drab. Thomas’s time there is nothing more than a filler. Given the uniqueness this afforded Green’s predecessors, that the reader was always desperate to flip back to the action in the other world regardless of which we were in, this should have been apparent again. The absence of any present(ish)-day peril was a critical failure and missed what made the original Circle books special.
The end of the book, the finale (or beginning) of the series, threw up some surprises. I was fairly confident throughout of how it would end, and it surprised me which I always like. I did feel other/future world wasn’t tied up as well as it could have been although it can be extrapolated biblically. The way in which the `circle’ is formed was not at all what I thought it would be. The link back to Black, thus making the series circular, is very definite but utterly ridiculous. I felt it was a weak ending and–although it resolves a previously unanswered question from the opening of Black–is more of a gimmick than a satisfying conclusion. The `circle’ could have been so much stronger and made the series completely unique but in actual fact a linear narrative with a definite conclusion would have been better than the nonsense played out in the last couple of pages.
In fairness to Dekker, the novel is enjoyable and the other/future world is particularly well thought out in terms of races and religions, but it doesn’t live up to the standard of the original trilogy. The ending in particular cheapens the series as a whole. For those who have read Black, Red and White, it’s probably worth investing in this volume to complete your collection but, in all honesty, Dekker should probably have stopped at White and left the trilogy as the threesome it was originally created to be.