on Jan. 16, 2013 :
I wrote a review for entire novel on my blog and am posting at each book section. www.hookofabook.wordpress.com
Identity (Book 1), Mirrors (Book 2), Unseen (Book 3) and Seer (Book 4) are all part of a four episode thrill ride from New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker. Combined, these sections puzzle together an almost 300-page book called Eyes Wide Open. First launched at the end of December with the free Identity, it continued at a one book per week serial pace and are now all currently available in e-book format separately. In February, all will combine as Eyes Wide Open for purchase as a paperback. I love the covers of each book too, which I'll show throughout the post. They are amazing and fit the story perfectly! Great symbolism!
Ted Dekker is one of my top five favorite authors of all time in any genre. When he sent out an e-mail asking his loyal readers to sign-up for an exciting release, and offered the first section free, I jumped at the chance to check it out. Identity really held my interest and I moved through it in an hour or less and couldn't wait for the next installment. The action was intense and I felt like the main character, Christy, fell through the proverbial Wonderland rabbit hole and into a milder version of an evil asylum all to end up popping through (instead of in) a coat closet to Narnia.
My head was spinning throughout Mirrors and I was as confused as the characters were. The Wonderland analogy in a demented and diluted sort of way kept appearing to me as well as similar allegorical themes such as sometimes illusions can seem so real that they become real. I was really confused and a little horrified (which is a good thing) by the beginning of Unseen, but parts of it also really touched my heart and I could relate to this message. It's one I struggle with. It is a Christian message, more clear than in most any other book I've read by him, but for me, so endearing. Really, anyone can use a reminder on the message of hope and beauty. It is about humankind and love. I wish so much I could tell you, but I don't want to spoil it for you.
I couldn't wait for Seer to hit for purchase this week and luckily enough it came early. And with it, as I read it, came an enlightenment on the entire book, as how we stumble sometimes upon an enlightenment in our life. I was so happy and fulfilled. We need to sometimes not just "take off our rose-colored glasses" but also put on our lenses (or lamps as in the book) and see our light and "the" light. Dekker, through the other characters, reminds us that everyone's timing and road is different. Just as some of the other characters weren't complete by the end, I was also left hoping for more about a mysterious stranger we are introduced to in book 3 and 4. At the end of Seer, I was pleasantly surprised and excited to see that he announced a new novel (maybe a series) focusing on this character and probably some of the other characters we already grew to know and feel compassion for.
I will always want to read anything he likes and I won't judge if I'll continue to read him or not based on any certain book or series. Why? Because he is always pushing his own boundaries as well as ours as readers; he's trying new things and taking risks. Sometimes that works better than other times, but he always entertains as well as makes a reader think (as long as that reader is willing to think).
He is a Christian author and sometimes his books are allegorical in nature, but many of his suspense thrillers can be read by anyone who just loves straight mind-bending psychological suspense. He doesn't always sell himself as a Christian author. However, in this series none of the marketing materials or content (plus he self-published using his Outlaw Studios so there isn't any Christian publisher involved) mentioned that there would be a Christian message. He already has some secular horror and suspense readers up in arms over there being no "warning." Is that something that needs to be done? What do you think? I thought the message was an important one, whether you are a Christian or not, and anyone of any belief could find inspiring and motivational insight behind the message he presents in this book.
In regards to his marketing choices as well, he also didn't really announce it as a young adult novel. Reading his other books, I felt the writing style was plainer and thought it didn't quite feel like him. Anyone reading him for the first time should not judge his other works on this. I felt that he either rushed this plot and prose and didn't polish it up, or he meant it for young adults. Without him saying which, I struggled with the whole book on this point since I was caught off guard. Again, as with the point previously mentioned, maybe he wanted to gain as many readers as possible to get to a #1 Amazon spot, but I feel he did himself a small injustice as an author.
Also, I bet if he announced as young adult appropriate, which it was, he would have gotten more readers. Many of his books teens probably shouldn't read due to their nature so parents wouldn't know to purchase for their kids too. It is totally teen appropriate and the message such a good learning point for them. It needs on a YA list! When doing research for this blog (there is nothing up on his website as of 1/15/2013) it took me days to find any reference to it being a young adult genre, which I finally spotted on an Amazon synopsis (you can see for yourself on the synopsis I posted from there).
The only other final thing I have to remark on, and I hate to do it to my favorite author, but he really needed to slow down with this book. He really needed to hire an editor and if he did, he needs his money back. This was the most awful display of missed words and errors that I have ever seen in a bestselling author. Many times I got held up on a word that was missing and I am fast reader who skims. I don't know how many times I remarked on this. It made me feel as if he just didn't put the care into it. Yes, the first book was free but his reputation is on the line with new readers. What kind of impression is this? Also, the next three books were $2.99 each for about 100 pages each...that is quite a bit of money for me to spend--$10 for a 300 page e-book. We have a collection of his books on our shelf too, if we wanted to get the combined paperback in February it would be another $14.99 and how do I know that the errors will be corrected?? He may get away with leaning on the fact that people like me who are dire hard fans will purchase anyway, but really we should still get our money's worth. If you are going to self-publish more works Ted Dekker, please hire an editor (I'm available!!).
That said, readers and Ted too, don't take me wrong. I am a marketer and PR person by trade and I tend to have an eye that looks towards these issues. I know that Ted Dekker took a big gamble on self-publishing, which means he has to write and market his own books. (I'm happy to offer advice!)
Overall, it was a great new endeavor in taking a risk and trying several new things which are serial e-books, making a prequel so huge that everyone wants to join the club for what's coming up next, offering his first free e-book section to create a buzz, and for him, self-publishing. I'm glad I was paying attention to his Facebook page and was already signed-up to receive his e-mail messages. It's how I knew about the book coming out...his website doesn't have any info. He really does treat his loyal fans well, so if you are a fan, be sure to sign-up on his website to get email notices or follow his Facebook updates.
I loved the story overall. It messed with my mind and made me think and cry and wonder all at various times. It felt surreal and yet real and it took ahold of my thoughts for weeks. I'd recommend the read and I really can't wait for the next novel.
(review of free book)