Hey, guys!!! Sorry it’s been ages– been partly working, partly laziness and procrastination on my part. I promise to at least try to make it up to you guys in some way, shape, or form, OK? In the meantime, let’s get back down to business.
Recently, I just finished Ted Dekker’s book “Skin,” where the tagline is, “Don’t trust your eyes.” Now, for those who know zip, zilch, nada, about Mr. Dekker’s works, allow me to explain his unique genre of writing. His writing is an intricate blend of thrills, chills, suspense, action, some mystery, some romance, usually climatic battles over something/someone, and a spiritual Humanities lesson (yes, he is a Christian author. One that I would practically to kill to have as my Humanities professor. LOL). Half his books are crime thrillers; “Boneman’s Daughters,” and “The Bride Collector” in particular remind me heavily of the TV series, “Criminal Minds” (no joke, he not only portrays the FBI side accurately, he also delves into the killer’s mind/motive deeply, and sometimes gives a rather… graphic description of the killings. I kinda have to skip that tiny, grisly lil part.). The other half are unique; some are centered in this world, others… in a future world. Where Roush (fluffy white bats) are angels, Shakaiti (ugly, black, vermin-infested bats) are demons, and Teeleh and Elyon are code-words for Satan and God, respectively.
What is unique about “The Circle” series, “The Lost Books of History” series, the “Paradise” series, “Skin,” and even a slight nod at the notorious, “House,” is that in all the books the characters, actions, etc are somehow related to one another, or affect one another– hence, it coming, “full Circle.”
For instance, in the first three series, a huge component are these large history books, filled with blank paper. You can literally write actual HISTORY into them, which is what young, impulsive Billy from a seclusive monastery does, writing that a man named Thomas Hunter would fall and hit his head. And guess what? In a city, in “Black” (first book of the Circle), sure enough, a man named Thomas Hunter does indeed fall, hits his head… and wakes up in another world. A different world. OUR FUTURE WORLD. Believers are called “forest-dwellers,” dwelling in the safety of Elyon’s forests and bathing daily in special water to keep a certain skin disease away– one that the non-believing, Teeleh-worshiping Horde has.
Now, you might be be wondering, “OK, but how does that all relate to THIS book? The one you’re reviewing?” Patience, grasshopper. I will be getting to that in just a moment…
WARNING: SERIOUS SPOILERS AHEAD. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!! (Don’t worry, I won’t give away TOO too much)
At first glance, “Skin,” might seem a lot like one of Dekker’s previous crime novels: “Three,” “The Bride Collector,” etc: a vindictive killer is on the loose in a little in Nevada called Summerville, just when a few freak tornadoes touch down (charming, eh?). The fun part was trying to figure out killer Sterling Red’s real I.D., but eventually I did (before all the other characters, too… haha. Spoiler: Innocuous secondary character.). But his motive for the killings, aside from being spiritual, tied directly in with the other books. Turns out Red, as a kid, was adopted from the same monastery as Billy (Project Showdown) by a scientist specifically for the purpose of a special virtual reality video game. A game so real only those with frontal lobe epilepsy could play and respond to certain stimuli, so he was forced to have frontal lobe epilepsy too, something all the other players, the people he was out to kill, already had. The other people didn’t even KNOW they were actually playing a game til the end… and the virtual reality is so real that, if you die in-game, you’re dead in the “real world,” too, as two characters whose ugliness goes deeper than skin (part of Red’s point) discover the hard way.
But wait– I haven’t gotten to the most mind-blowing part yet.
The most mind-blowing part was something even the scientists were completely clueless to.
You see, they weren’t always in a game. That’s right, they were in THE FUTURE world, at least partly. The same world Thomas Hunter went to. Proof, you ask? They admit to fighting the Horde; all while under the impression it was a game; Colt sees Johnis from “The Lost Books” series briefly while they’re in the desert; Colt wakes up wearing a “Forest Guard” tee (the Forest Guard is the guard that protects the Forest Dwellers from attacking Horde); not only that, but Billos (Billy’s alternate-world counterpart),from “Renegade” of “The Lost Books,” unintentionally stumbles upon the the virtual reality device, which is what takes him to the town of Paradise (enter: full Circle). I didn’t see many ties to the “Paradise” books as I did “The Circle” and “The Lost Books,” but the connection to Billos and Paradise, Red being from the monastery, plus the fact that Red directly quotes notoriously sinister, book-created Marsuvees Black when he says, “Wanna trip, baby?” This is all evidence of their connection (reminds me of how Black admitted to creating another killing monstrosity, Barsidious White, the killer in “House,” although Red wasn’t written into existence like the formers were. I’m almost surprised Dekker hasn’t created a killer called, “Green” yet, but perhaps that’s because “Green” is the “purest” book in the “Circle” series?… Man, all these killers with the same names as several “Pokemon Adventures” characters… MY sense of reality is gonna start getting warped!).
Mind blown quite yet? Or at least trying to sort everything out?
Don’t worry if you don’t “get” everything. The best part about the whole Circle is that you can start anywhere in it (save for in the middle of a series, maybe), and you won’t really get lost, as long as you (eventually) read the others, too. Then, everything starts to click. Then, your reaction becomes nearly identical to mine, when I found all that out after reading, “Skin,”: bugged eyes, gaping mouth, squealing noises. Not joking.
Overall, as a book, I would rate this at least 4.5 out of five stars (simply because I don’t like gore and horror. IK, I’m biased…). If you are not a scary book person, Ted Dekker may not be for you, BUT, if you’re like me, and can stomach/skim the scary parts, you’ll find much deeper, richer spiritual meanings to ALL the stories, including “Skin,” that he writes. And that is why I love him so much.
Have you read “Skin” yet? If so, what did you think? Do you like Dekker as an author? Be sure to sound off! =)