by Ted Dekker
My rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Christian suspense
Equal parts thriller and philosophical, this book starts with a discussion about the nature of man and by the end of the first chapter, has the main character nearly blown up. Kevin is tormented by a man who demands he confess his sin or his attacks will only get worse. Aided by a caring FBI agent whose brother was killed in a similar fashion only a few months previous and Kevin’s best friend since childhood, he struggles to understand what the madman wants from him. All of this leads up to an unexpected confrontation that I did not see coming.
The book is billed as a thriller, but I think where it tends to trip some people up is that it’s also very philosophical. Unlike Peretti, whom many people compare Dekker to, I don’t know that I’d classify Ted Dekker as a Christian author exactly. The books of his that I have read contain religion or spirituality, but not exactly Christianity. There is a fairly strong moral message in this book, though, and it can slow down the action. It doesn’t bother me much, but it might others.
I first read this book in the early 2000s. I’ve considered it one of my favorite books ever since then, but unlike my long-time favorite book, I have never re-read this one before now. It has the type of ending that led me to think that it wouldn’t really be worth re-reading. Now that it’s 15ish years later and I find myself enjoying books again, I decided it was time. I did enjoy it this time through, but not quite as much as the first time, because of the knowledge I had. However, knowing the Big Twist, I was able to see the build-up to it, spot the signs and hints. I appreciated the way that Dekker spun the story.
I did still enjoy the book, particularly the characterization of the main character, Kevin, and his childhood. That was one big thing I didn’t quite remember from when I first read it–the book hinted at him having a more difficult childhood than what was even shown up front, but I couldn’t remember what it was. I enjoyed unraveling the story again, even though I knew what it was leading up to. I also very much enjoyed Kevin’s relationship with his professor, and the role the professor played in the latter part of the book.
One gripe that I have is in the symbolism regarding the Big Twist. To use an example, when watching Sixth Sense for the first time, you may not even know that the color red is always involved in the Big Twist (not spoiling, though by now, if you don’t know the twist in that movie, where have you been living?) throughout the movie unless you are told about it by someone else. It’s there, but it’s subtle. In this book, the number 3 is a huge part of the bad guy’s psyche, and it’s not even remotely subtle. The bad guy himself says how much he likes the number 3 more than once. I think I would have liked to see it as a more subtle element.
I would recommend this book for fans of Christian thrillers and philosophy.
This book was made into a movie that came out in 2006. I watched it in the theater, but I don’t actually remember much about it (except that the main character was played by Marc Blucas). I remember having a terrible migraine, so I don’t think my forgetfulness is completely indicative of how good the movie was. However, I also never felt the need to watch it again in all this time, and that’s considering I’ve had a DVD copy for years. I do plan to watch the movie now though, and will likely post about the comparison like I did with Ready Player One.
If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!