Book Review: A.D. 30, Abridged Edition by Ted Dekker

Title: A.D. 30, Abridged Edition
Author: Ted Dekker
Publisher: Center Street (Hachette Book Group)
Published: August 2015
Series: A.D., Book 1 (Abridged)
Genre: Biblical fiction

Book Description (from Publisher Center Street):

New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker offers an exclusive, ebook original novella in this abridgment of A.D. 30, the epic historical novel about a woman who rises to lead her people after meeting Jesus.

Maviah, the outcast daughter of a powerful Arabian sheik, is called to protect the very people who rejected her. When enemies launch a sudden attack she escapes with the help of her father’s warriors. Their journey is fraught with danger and takes her to a brutal world subjugated by kings and emperors. There Maviah must form an unlikely alliance with King Herod of the Jews.

But her path also leads her to Yeshua, who offers her a way of life more powerful than any kingdom. Though following him may present an even greater danger, his may be the only way for Maviah to save her people–and herself.

My Thoughts:

Those of you who follow my blog may remember that I reviewed A.D. 30 not quite a year ago. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to go read that review first to find out my overall thoughts on the story, because here, I’m mainly going to focus on the differences I noticed between the abridged and unabridged versions, in the interest of helping readers decide which version they might prefer to read.

I’ll be upfront and say that I tend to be biased against abridged editions of anything for the same reason I prefer to read series in order, even when the individual books can be read as standalones. Because I don’t want to miss (or think I’m missing) anything. But since I’d already read the full book, and was about to read the next book in the series, I decided to give the abridged version a chance, and read it to refresh my memory of the first book before diving into the second. (And, yes, I’ll be posting my review of A.D. 33 soon….)

Going by Amazon’s estimated page counts of the two Kindle editions, the abridged version is about half the length of the original. That’s a lot to cut, and yet the primary story arc remains (in my opinion) fully intact. Pivotal scenes seem to be more or less exactly the same, while some of the connecting parts of the story are briefly summarized in the abridged version, rather than shown, as in the full version.

I’m sure there were parts left out and shortened that I didn’t even notice (considering it’s been almost a year since I read the full version). But the main thing I did miss, were some of the details of Maviah’s initial trek across the desert to Herod’s court with Judah and Saba. In the full version, these scenes did a great job of fleshing out the setting, culture, and relationships among the main characters. I loved the vivid sensory details as the characters experienced a sandstorm in the desert. And I enjoyed watching the relationship between Maviah and Judah deepen over the course of their interactions. I felt like I got to know them each better in the process. I found myself missing some of these details in the shortened version. Not so much because they’re necessary for enjoyment of the story – I don’t think they are – but because I enjoyed them so much the first time around.

For those readers all about the action, intrigue, and plot twists, the abridged edition may well be the way to go. For those who don’t mind taking the time to slow things down a bit in the interest of getting to know the characters better and exploring the setting and culture more fully, you’ll want the full version. Personally, I prefer the full version, though I did find the abridged version a convenient reminder before reading the next book in the series.

Thank you to Center Street for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book via NetGalley for review purposes.

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