Tag Archives: Ted Dekker

Book Review: A.D. 33 by Ted Dekker

Title: A.D. 33
Author: Ted Dekker
Publisher: Center Street (Hachette Book Group)
Published: October 2015
Series: A.D., Book 2
Genre: Biblical fiction

Book Description (from Publisher Center Street):

New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker delivers the gripping story of Maviah, a slave who becomes a queen in Arabia, A.D. 33.

They call her the Queen of the Outcasts. Maviah, a woman whose fate was sealed on her birth by this world-unwanted, illegitimate, female, a slave-subject to the whims of all. But then she met a man named Yeshua who opened her eyes. She found strength in his words, peace from the brutal word around her. Because of what he taught her, she has gathered her own traveling kingdom of outcasts deep in the desert, wielding an authority few have seen. But when her growing power threatens the rulers around her, they set out to crush all she loves, leaving her reeling as a slave once more. She must find Yeshua to save her people, but when she does, she will be horrified to discover that he faces his own death.

Enter a story full of intrigue, heart-wrenching defeat, uncompromising love and staggering victory-one that re-examines everything you thought you knew about the heart of Jesus’s stunning message and the power that follows for those who follow his easily forgotten way.

My Thoughts:

Like its predecessor A.D. 30, Ted Dekker’s A.D. 33 tells a fascinating tale of epic adventure, romance and political intrigue. It draws the reader in to the life and times of Jesus, primarily from the viewpoint of a Bedouin woman who follows His teachings and interacts with Him on multiple occasions. But more than that, this story makes the reader think long and hard about what Jesus meant by some of his teachings, and about what it means to follow Him.

Maviah continues to be an interesting and relatable lead character, with difficult political and personal situations standing in the way of her goals. The author does a great job interweaving Maviah’s story with that of Jesus. We get to see a fair number of recognizable moments and teachings from His ministry through her eyes, without these interactions ever becoming too much or too coincidental for plausibility.

Along with Maviah, this book revisits familiar characters from the last book including Judah and Saba. It also introduces a number of new characters to the story including a precocious young orphan named Talya that Maviah has adopted in the years since the last installment.

The plot is gripping, with unexpected twists and some intensely emotional moments. I had tears streaming down my cheeks during the climactic scene. So beautiful and powerfully told!

I appreciated the fact that Dekker took the time to cite Biblical references for the teachings of Jesus in this book. I can’t say I’m in complete agreement with how some of the other characters in the story interpret some of Jesus’ teachings, or with all of the conclusions drawn from them. But I enjoyed looking at those teachings from a different angle. It prompted me to think long and hard about why I believe what I do believe. It also has me itching to re-read the New Testament to re-examine Jesus’ teachings for myself in their original context.

Overall, this is a beautifully written book that does a great job blending a gripping story with an inspiring message. Highly recommended.

Thank you to publisher Center Street for providing me with an electronic advance reader copy of this novel via NetGalley for review purposes. This review represents my own honest opinion.

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.

Book Review: A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker

Merry (almost) Christmas everyone!  Since Christmas is nearly here, I thought I’d give a nod to the holiday around the corner by sharing my review of a novel that takes a look at the life and teachings of Jesus (the reason for the season, yes?) from a different perspective.  It seemed thematically appropriate.  Plus, if you still have last minute Christmas shopping ahead of you (or are looking for some post-Christmas entertainment for yourself), this fascinating historical novel could be just the thing.  Without further ado…

Title: A.D. 30
Author: Ted Dekker
Publisher: Center Street (Hachette Book Group)
Genre: Biblical fiction
Published: 2014

Book Description (from Publisher Center Street):

A sweeping epic set in the harsh deserts of Arabia and ancient Palestine.

A war that rages between kingdoms on the earth and in the heart.

The harrowing journey of the woman at the center of it all.

Step back in time to the year of our Lord…A.D. 30.

The outcast daughter of one of the most powerful Bedouin sheikhs in Arabia, Maviah is called on to protect the very people who rejected her. When their enemies launch a sudden attack with devastating consequences, Maviah escapes with the help of two of her father’s warriors–Saba who speaks more with his sword than his voice and Judah, a Jew who comes from a tribe that can read the stars. Their journey will be fraught with terrible danger. If they can survive the vast forbidding sands of a desert that is deadly to most, they will reach a brutal world subjugated by kings and emperors. There Maviah must secure an unlikely alliance with King Herod of the Jews.

But Maviah’s path leads her unexpectedly to another man. An enigmatic teacher who speaks of a way in this life which offers greater power than any kingdom. His name is Yeshua, and his words turn everything known on its head. Though following him may present even greater danger, his may be the only way for Maviah to save her people–and herself.

My Thoughts:

Ted Dekker’s latest book, A.D. 30, is a not-to-be missed tale of epic adventure, romance, political intrigue, and one woman’s life-altering encounter with Jesus, or as He’s called in this novel, Yeshua.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I’m eagerly awaiting the publication of future books in this series.  I’m also hoping to hear of it being made into a movie so I can see it on the big screen.  Just saying.  The visuals would be absolutely breathtaking.  Check out the book trailer and you’ll get an idea for what I mean.

But, getting back to the book….

I think I’m a little in awe of the research that must have gone into the writing of this book.  Dekker paints the ancient world in exquisite detail, using specific sights, sounds, feelings, and cultural details to put the reader right there with his characters.  From the multi-sensory experience of a desert sandstorm to a glimpse of the opulence of Herod’s palace, not that far from the poverty in Nazareth, this book is a real eye-opener.

I loved Maviah’s viewpoint.  She’s not an insider.  In many ways – as a woman, a foreigner, and an outcast even to her own people – she’s on the outside looking in, but what she sees and hears on her journey has a huge impact on her life.  And seeing and hearing it through her eyes and ears, those of someone encountering Jesus in person and for the first time, the old familiar stories and teachings are made fresh again.

Lest I leave you with the impression that this book is all about Jesus, I should clarify.  It’s not.  He actually plays a relatively small (pagewise anyway) though pivotal part in this book.  Rather, this is primarily the story of Maviah, a woman accustomed to embracing the shame heaped upon her by others, as she begins to step into a new role and finds the strength and faith to face the myriad political and physical challenges that stand between her and her goals.

But will she reach those goals?  Can she restore her father’s honor and avenge her son’s death?  You’ll just have to read this book to find out… and maybe one or two more in the series.  No spoilers here!  :)

Thank you to the folks at Shelton Interactive and Center Street for providing me with an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley for review purposes.  This review represents my own honest opinion.

Update, 10/13/15: There is now an abridged version of this novel available, which I have also reviewed. My review of the abridged edition explores the differences between the two, in the interest of helping readers decide which edition they might prefer.

Book Review: Eyes Wide Open by Ted Dekker

Title: Eyes Wide Open
Author: Ted Dekker
Publisher: Worthy Publishing
Genre(s): Christian Fiction, Suspense
Published: 2014

Eyes Wide Open is a real page turner with cliff-hangers and plot twists around every corner.  The story kept me guessing from beginning to end, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

What It’s About (from the back cover):

My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen and I’m about to die.

I’m buried in a coffin under tons of concrete. No one knows where I am. My heart sounds like a monster with clobber feet, running straight toward me. I’m lying on my back, soaked with sweat from the hair on my head to the soles of my feet. My hands and feet won’t stop shaking.

Some will say that I’m not really here. Some will say I’m delusional. Some will say that I don t even exist. But who are they? I’m the one buried in a grave.

My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen. I’m about to die.

So who are you?

In a return to the kind of storytelling that made Black, Showdown and Three unforgettable, Ted Dekker drags that question into the light with this modern day parable about how we see ourselves.

Humming with intensity and blindsided twists, Eyes Wide Open is raw adrenaline from the first page to the last — pure escapism packed with inescapable truth.

Not all is as it seems. Or is it? Strap yourself in for the ride of your life. Literally.

My Reaction:

Let me start by saying that the cover of the paperback edition is way cooler in person than it appears on your screen.  You know those holograms that you turn side to side and the picture changes depending on the angle you’re viewing it from?  Well the glasses on the cover of this book have reflective bits that show a rainbow of colors as you change the angle you view them from, much like you might see from actual broken glass.  I thought that was a nice touch.

IMG_7698webYes, I read the actual paperback.  Despite the fact that I most frequently read fiction on my Kindle, and despite the innovative episodic way this book was released in electronic format, I read this one the old-fashioned way.  Why?  Because I won an autographed copy through a Goodreads contest.  I cannot tell you how surprised or how pleased I was to win it.  But, since a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s a selfie of me holding my plunder.

Wait.  Can you call it a selfie if you use a tripod and the camera’s self-timer function?  Hmmm… I’ll go with yes for now, but that’s really neither here nor there, is it?

Sadly the hologram effect doesn’t show up in this picture either.  Oh well.  You’ll just have to take my word on that for now.

A little background on this book before I go into more detail on what I liked about it.

This title is the first in the Outlaw Chronicles by Ted Dekker, which, at this point, also includes Water Walker and HackerSources say you can read them in any order, though they do share a common character who is introduced in an earlier book called Outlaw.  It’s worth noting that Outlaw recently won the Christy Award in the Suspense category.  I have not previously read any of these other titles, but I have to say, having finished this one, I’m tempted to track down copies of the others as well.

Eyes Wide Open consists of four parts – Book 1: Identity, Book 2: Mirrors, Book 3: Unseen, and Book 4: Seer.  These parts were originally released (in ebook form) episodically over a period of weeks, and the full collection is now available as a single title in electronic, paper, and audio editions.

Book One is also still available as a free download.  Be warned.  It’s designed to hook you into buying the rest… and it’s effective.

This book explores the concept of identity through the experiences of two likeable teen-aged characters placed in a situation where neither they, nor the reader, can be sure just how much of what is happening is real and how much isn’t.  Dekker does a great job keeping the level of suspense high and allowing the uncertainty to grow throughout the book, until finally revealing the unexpected ending.

The allegorical approach this story takes got me thinking about familiar concepts and ideas in new ways, which turned out to be a lot of fun.  Yes, this is Christian fiction, but you might not see it until near the end.  Take one part Twilight Zone for the bizarre situation the characters find themselves in, one part Chronicles of Narnia for the Christian allegory, and add a big helping of suspense of the cliff-hanger and unexpected-plot-twist variety, and you’ve got a general idea what to expect.  I did not want to put this book down, and when I did, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  Highly recommended.