Review: Forbidden by Dekker and Lee

It is the author match made in heaven – the heart-pounding thrills and pacing of Ted Dekker and the heart-rending character development of Tosca Lee – that makes Forbidden such an unforgettable read.

Dekker, known for testosterone-charged thrillers and speculative fiction like the Circle series and Immanuel’s Veins, brings his own brand of allegory to the table. Dekker writes in bold colors and broad strokes about sin in all its tragic loss and the terrible price at which grace is made available.

Lee’s artistry is much more subtle. Yes, she can write a thriller. Demon: A Memoir draws you to its cliff’s edge of decision with the inevitable pull of gravity, the tension mounting in your chest with each turn of the page. But it’s her characters, drawn with a rare depth of dimension rarely seen in any genre that will stick in your imagination for weeks after you close the book.

Combined they create a tour de force of strength and subtlety, characters you come to know and love in a world of deep darkness and danger. Forbidden is set in the far future, 500 years post-apocalyptic, where a new form of science and religion has sprung up. All emotional reactions have been genetically erased from humanity through a viral infection, leaving only the one most necessary for survival – fear. But now, the effects of the virus are breaking down. It is time to feel again.

Five individuals are exposed to the virus’ cure. Five individuals, who must now learn to control their feelings, band together and survive against the onslaught of a political system unwilling to relinquish its greatest strength, the submissive populace driven by fear alone.

Forbidden goes on sale a week from today, September 13th.

I, for one, am already anxiously awaiting the rest of the series.

Dragons, giants and vampires: or, how a good allegory can get under your skin

A good allegory can change the course of history. After all, it was the story of a “sheep-napped” and eaten lamb that convicted King David of his sin against God, Uriah and his wife Bathsheba. (Not familiar with that one? Read 2 Samuel 12…) And it is my fervent prayer that a few good allegories such as Pilgrims Progress and The Chronicles of Narnia will serve to correct and direct my sons’ lives as well.

“Mom,” my 7-year-old said to me after seeing the latest release at the theater, “The Dawn Treader is a lot like that movie we watched about Christian following that path.”

I got all misty – I was so proud of his conclusion! It had been a month since we’d watched Pilgrims Progress on DVD. Although I love the themes, I’d always dismissed John Bunyon’s allegory as somewhat cheesy and simplistic, an opinion unfortunately underlined by the bargain-basement production values of the particular video we saw. What I had snobbishly dismissed as weakness is in fact the texts’ greatest strength and may help explain why this 333-year-old story has never been out of print and resonated in my son’s mind.

My second-grader saw the connection between Eustice being trapped in the body of a dragon and the travelling companions Christian and Hopeful being held by the Giant Despair – and how in each case relief and release is available.

It is easy to overcomplicate how God provides salvation for us. That the God of the Universe would care enough about each of us to provide a way for us to become his children is truly a mind-boggling thing. God strips from us the accumulation of our sin and opens the doors of traps we have walked ourselves into through disobedience. It takes true genius to make these concepts of grace readily understandable to a child without losing the vital nuances of our responsibilities in this tale.

When my sons are older and begin to think about girls, I will steer them in the direction of another writer of allegories, the amazing Ted Dekker. I just completed reading his latest novel, Immanuel’s Veins, an allegory of sin and redemption – as well as a fabulous illustration of how love in real life is supposed to work as well.

Dekker ably illustrates just how sneaky our eternal enemy is, how attractive he makes himself and his lies and how he insinuates himself almost seamlessly into our lives if we are not constantly vigilant. And, Dekker does it with the hottest fiction vehicle in the publishing business – vampires.

Yeah, it’s right up my alley. To quote another literary gem, Mary Poppins, “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down!”