Friday, August 22, 2014

A Review: Eyes Wide Open

Eyes Wide Open by Ted Dekker
Genre: Psychological Thriller

"Who am I?
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."

Ted Dekker does at least one thing well: capturing his reader's attention. Just by the short synopsis on the back of the novel, I wanted to dive into this mystery and get to know Christy better. Throughout the book, I was often as confused by the twists in the novel and the idea of reality as the characters. But since I have read many Dekker books, I was somewhat able to figure out what would happen to the characters. I often felt sympathy and pity for the two lost people in this book, and saw myself in Christy, which made the words that much more real.

Dekker explored some excellent themes in this novel: beauty, identity, and reality. He does a good job of putting reader on her head by forcing her to question her views of reality, truth, and the like. He did get a little preachy at the end, and I'm not sure everything Dekker said through one of his characters was true, so be careful when you read it. Even if you know an author is a follower of Christ, you still have to measure everything they say against Scripture.

I also didn't feel satisfied with the ending. Certain things didn't seem to be cleared up well or at all, and that always bothers me. I love how Dekker connects his books to his others, which seem unrelated at the first reading, but the way he did it in this novel at the end seems like a too-easy solution and somewhat superficial.

Dekker always plays with the line between the material reality around us and the supernatural, which is great, since that's such an important facet of the believer's life, and is one reason why I like his writing so much, but it can be confusing for the reader at times. In Eyes Wide Open I had a hard time deciphering why/how things happened and what made them happen. But perhaps Dekker wants to leave us wondering.

I give this novel a 3 out of 5 and recommend it for 16 year olds and up.

What I learned: I am perfect in Christ. The most important reality is in that which we can't see with our physical eyes.

For more information on Dekker and to peek at his other books, visit his website here. He's also pretty active on facebook.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Shout Hallelujah!

Below is a story from a team in the field who are participating in what I will do, Chronological Bible Storytelling, with Wycliffe. It is originally by Catherine Rivard.

"The crying was barely audible at first. Julie glanced at her teammate, Doreka, then turned back to the crowded sanctuary, sweeping her arms wide as she told of the disciples’ amazement when encountering their risen Lord.

It was the third day of an Easter camp in a Maiwala-speaking village, and each day the two women had stood before the ever increasing crowd, dramatically telling stories of Jesus’ trial, then His crucifixion, and now, as tears began to fall more heavily and a whole row of women rubbed their eyes, His resurrection. Julie dropped her arms, and the muffled weeping grew louder and louder until everyone in the church was sobbing. The story had touched their hearts.

When Jesus sat before the crowds, He wrapped Truth in story after story of lost coins, buried treasure, missing sheep, vineyards, and paths laden with seed. Although bullet-pointed facts are efficient, stories have the ability to pierce through defenses, navigate cultural barriers, and ultimately impact hearts, especially in the oral cultures of Papua New Guinea. 

I've had the privilege of working with Julie to train translators in a method called oral Bible storytelling which allows for dramatic, accurate translations of Bible stories—before the language even has a written alphabet!
But not all the tears were of sorrow. After the service, one woman ran up to Julie and wrung her hand, 'I almost got up to shout hallelujah! because I knew that my Lord was not dead forever! He was risen!'

Shout Hallelujah!" 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Agatha Christie's Murder Train

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie 
Genre: Murder Mystery

"En route to Paris, Belgian detective Hercule Poirot has booked winter passage on the fabled Orient Express. Among the assortment of fellow passengers, one wealthy American holds a unique distinction: He has been found dead of multiple stab wounds in the night compartment of the Calais coach. By dawn, thirteen travelers, each bearing a secret, will find themselves suspect in the most ingenious crime Poirot has ever solved..."

Feel that shiver down your spine? That means you're intrigued already. Actually, it wasn't particularly scary or gruesome, except when Poirot looks at the dead body. I haven't read many mysteries, even of Christie's, except I do recall perusing And Then There Were None in middle school and enjoying it more than I thought I would.

Christie is definitely a master of mystery, and this book takes the reader on several different tracks before arriving at the brilliant conclusion of the murder. I would have liked to be more in Poirot's head to see how he worked out the mystery so well, but he does explain some of it at the end. The only bad thing about mysteries, at least Christie's, is that there is no character development. They are pretty logical books, where this+this=that, and I wished for something more substantial afterwards. There is quite a bit of dialogue, probably more than in any book I've ever read, and the reader usually doesn't get to peek into any of the character's minds, leaving them merely a spectator instead of a participant in the story.

These novels are good palate-cleansers, though, in-between longer, more character-driven books. And as I mentioned earlier, Christie is brilliant at placing both true and false clues and leaving the reader clueless to the truth until bam! the detective hits them over the head with it at the end. Thus, I give this novel a 3 out of 5 and recommend it for 16 year olds and up.

What I learned: 'Tout de meme' in French means 'all the same'.