Friday, October 16, 2015

A.D. 33 by Ted Dekker

The sequel to the New York Times Bestseller A.D. 30 has arrived and we follow the "Outcast Queen" Maviah two years after the events of the first book.

She has amassed a great following. She has an adopted son and her bodyguard/love of her life, Judah, is in chains by the villain.

A rescue operation is in order, fails, and a new operation must be taken. How far will Dekker twist your heart before offering release?

It is fun to journey in the deserts of the Ancient Middle East as Dekker weaves the words. The chance to witness certain biblical characters from a new perspective was enjoyable as well. Maviah brings us into the courts of some of the more powerful and it is a profound shift from the typical Bible re-tellings.

I had struggled a little with fully investing with A.D. 30 and that might simply be because I am not a huge fan of historical fiction. With this second book, I had become more familiar with the characters which made the jump easier.

The writing is fantastic...until the finale (and I'll get to that). You will find yourself gripping the book as Maviah goes through her step-by-step spiritual renewal. And because it's Dekker, you should know that he's exploring the questions that most of us have asked/are asking ourselves. This was an aspect of the book that I really sunk my teeth into: the whole theme of identity and how Christians tend to forget Jesus' new reality while surrounded by the world.

The slight turn off for me was the fact that I've read Ted's exploration of that theme in, at least, the last five books; Hacker, Water Walker, Eyes Wide Open, Outlaw, Sovereign, and you could even toss in Saint. These all deal with forgetting your true identity in Jesus.

And this isn't completely bad. Those are all terrific stories. I have them all and reread them all the time. I think it's a powerful theme and I understand (at least I think I understand) Ted's wanting to fully explore it in as many ways as he can. My opinion is I think he best explored it in the Eyes Wide Open trilogy. I felt those three books explored the idea of identity better than these A.D. books have.

But how in the world can I complain about a book about Jesus?

The Jesus parts of these books are good. How Ted brings us inside from a new perspective is terrific! It was refreshing and added some organic tissue to Jesus that one might not read from the Bible.

Having said that: I still think he did a better job at unfolding how people struggle with their identity through the characters of his previous books.

Now about the around chapter thirty you will not be able to close the book. You will be sucked in and committed to the very last page. This author, Master Ted Dekker, tightens those screws and my heart was literally beating harder because I thought for sure I knew what was coming.

And I was really looking forward to reading how Ted would have Maviah respond to such a real-life situation. As people in real-life wrestle with how to worship such a God who could allow such a thing to happen.

I was all ready for it and super excited to read how it resolved.

But instead, we get a note. A one note song that is the answer. I hope that isn't too much of a spoiler but when it happened and what happened afterwards, I shook my head. I shook my head until the book was over.

I felt completely let down. How unrealistic; a maximum cop-out.

It was almost enough to ruin everything that came before. So, for me, this book was okay. Great story, wonderful theme, cop out ending.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by Center Street Publishing.

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