Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review of MORTAL by Ted Dekker & Tosca Lee

Photo Credit: Hachette Book Group

Rating: 5 out of 5

It’s been nine years since Rom Sebastian learned that the whole world has been dead. Long ago human beings were stripped of all their emotions except fear, and Order has ruled over a dead world. Until Rom Sebastian discovered a vial of blood that restored his emotions and brought him back to life. Following an ancient prophecy by a group of people known as keepers, Rom found a boy who was born alive and destined to bring life back to the world. After giving a taste of life to the world’s next Sovereign Feyn, Rom convinces her to give her life so that Jonathan can become Sovereign and fulfill his destiny on his eighteenth birthday. For nine years, Feyn has been held in stasis, legally dead to the world. Now, days before the boy Jonathan is set to assume the mantel of the world’s Sovereign on his eighteenth birthday, a dark force is led by Saric, who has a dark version of life flowing through his own veins and leads an army who shares his blood. Saric has brought Feyn out of stasis to become the world’s rightful Sovereign before Jonathan has a chance to. A tribe of Mortals, brought to life by Jonathan’s blood, has placed their hope in Jonathan becoming Sovereign over the world. But Feyn isn’t who she once was, Jonathan has been exhibiting some strange behavior lately, a growing unrest is developing among the Mortals, and Saric’s army of Dark Bloods threatens to destroy everything the Mortals have hoped for.

Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee did a phenomenal job with FORBIDDEN, the first book in their Books of Mortals trilogy, by introducing us to a world where human beings are essentially dead, ruled by fear and desperate for a savior to bring life. MORTAL, the second book in the series to be released next month, carries the story forward in some unexpected ways. It’s clear that the story is reflective of the redemptive history of the Bible, but it’s also clear that Dekker and Lee are trying to tell their own story as well, shining a light on concepts you’ve maybe never considered before. You can’t guess where this story is going next, and that makes it hard to put down.

The strengths of the book are its characters and the stakes at play in the story. Rom Sebastian is still a great character who pledges his allegiance to Jonathan and the kingdom the Mortals believe that Jonathan will usher in. His devotion is shown through his actions throughout the story, and it was great to see him rise to a respected leader. Roland, the leader of the nomads, is a man committed to Jonathan, but even more so to his people, and the conflict inside of him is emotionally stirring. As the story progresses, you really begin to understand the difficulty of a man in his position. Jonathan is an enigma. Sometimes rational, and sometimes almost driven by madness, his people don’t know what to do with him. He’s definitely the character I found myself most drawn to because of his intriguing nature. Though not everything he does seems like Christ figure you would expect him to be, he certainly keeps you guessing, and like Jesus, he shows that more is at stake than people often realize. Jordin, Jonathan’s protector and a new addition to the story, is the character I think most people will resonate with. She’s driven by love and devotion to Jonathan, but like everyone else, she greatly misunderstands what Jonathan’s end goal is. Saric is the classic villain driven by an insatiable hunger for power, but the things he does to get it make him really stand out among villains. Finally, there’s Feyn. I didn’t like what Dekker and Lee did with Feyn in making her a mindless pawn of Saric, but I understand that the story is about unexpected twists. I’m interested to see where they take her character in the final book.

The stakes in this book are incredibly high. The fate of the world rests on the Mortals and their goal of bringing Jonathan to power. Everything is threatened both by Saric’s Dark Mortals and resurrection of Feyn, as well as Jonathan’s erratic behavior and growing factions within the Mortal camp. The characters really make you feel what’s at stake in this story.

Dekker has been my favorite author for a long time, and I’m really enjoying Lee’s contribution to this story. MORTAL will likely leave you very unsatisfied simply because it makes you thirsty for more, and the last book doesn’t come until 2013. The story is brilliant in its ability to reframe the story of a group of people and ultimately a man who was greatly misunderstood by everyone who should have embraced him and the life he came to give. I loved the ending for the very familiar world it painted. Read this book, then immerse yourself in the story of Christ it reflects and the life he came to give.

Look for MORTAL to be released by FaithWords on June 5, 2012

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