Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee, book 1 of The Books of Mortals series, (Center Street, September 13, 2011), 384 pages
In a world ruled by fear (no other emotions now exist), although violence is basically unheard of, people generally go through life keeping their heads down.
A vial of blood and a cryptic page are thrust into Rom’s hands by a man on the run from authorities. The old man says something that makes Rom think his father didn’t live quite the straight-and-narrow life he’d always thought. But he doesn’t have long to think about it, now that he’s being pursued because of what he now possesses.
This was, overall, an enjoyable read for me. I don’t always respect Dekker’s books much, but this is one of his better ones. He’s always been great at pacing, and this book is no exception. The story flies along, dragging the reader from one page to the next. Lee’s influence was clear — at times, the prose really sparkled, which is something I haven’t experienced in Dekker’s writing.
Somehow, while feeling pretty unique, the whole dystopian setup also felt trite.
There was also one scene, in particular, that was overwrought, more bloody than it needed to be. Maybe this will be sussed out in subsequent books, but as it stood in this one, it was out of place and gory.
The part of the book that was most interesting to me was touched on immediately, on the first page of the first chapter: Art, any kind of creative pursuit, only barely survives in this world, and that only because a long-dead expert had written about the educational merits of the arts. The life of an artisan is hard, in a world unmoved by creativity. [Not that the life of an artist is exactly easy, even today.] Even then, “artisan” is a more accurate word than “artist” because the act of creation doesn’t really happen outside the full scope of emotion, which this population lacks.
I love that one of the characteristics we as humans share with God is creativity. God created ex nihilo, and we, made in that image, create.
I can easily see how art appreciation might not happen in a world without love or joy or even anger. But I hadn’t really thought about creating being an act that required emotional undercurrents.
“You only feel pain because you’re alive, boy!” the keeper thundered. “This is the mystery of it. Life is lived on the ragged edge of that cliff. Fall off and you might die, but run from it and you are already dead!”
~page 339, Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee
What do you think? Could an emotion-less being create?
Rating: 3.5 stars
Book 2, Mortal, is schedule for release in September 2012; book 3, Sovereign, will be published in 2013.
About the authors
Ted Dekker is a bestselling author of more than 20 novels. He lives in Austin, Texas.
Tosca Lee (@ToscaLee) is the author of Demon and Havah.
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