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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Returning by Rachelle Dekker {A Tyndale Review}

***I want to start by saying I was meant to post this on the 17th for the book's launch, but my computer has been misbehaving terribly, and I have not been able to get it working, even with a “tech guy” for a husband.  I feel terrible, and I am ever so appreciative to Tyndale and Ms. Dekker for the opportunity to review this book.***

I was SO excited to be chosen to review this final book in Rachelle Dekker’s The Seer series.  I’ve had the chance to review each of the other books in the series and was very much looking forward to reading The Returning and seeing how the story concluded.  Before I get too much into my thoughts, here’s a little background on the book and the author.

 The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through the avenue of storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full-time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat, Blair.

Tyndale provided some Q&A about the book directly from the author, which is so insightful.

Set the scene for The Returning. What has happened since The Calling ended? Well, it’s been nearly 20 years, and the world has changed. I don’t want to give too much away for those who haven’t read the first two, so I’ll just say the world is very different and much more dangerous than it once was. But something is brewing under the surface. Change is coming, and people know it. 

What themes are explored in this book? Identity is something I am always exploring, so that’s no different in The Returning. But in this novel I took a really hard look at forgiveness and how that relates to our journey of discovering who we really are.

The theme of identity is explored in all three Seer books. How does forgiveness relate to identity? For me, forgiveness is more about the one who feels wronged than the one who committed the wrong. What if, for a moment, you believed that nothing could harm you? That you, as a believer, are seated at the Father’s table and standing with him? Can anything harm the Father? If you believe no, then can anything harm you—the true you, the true spirited self? So then, forgiveness becomes more about letting go of false belief and stepping into the true identity that the Father gave to you. I know it’s radical, but belief like that could change the world, don’t you think? 

How do you hope this book will resonate with your readers? I hope, as with both of the other books, that the reader sees themselves in the characters and that the story causes them to look inward. To ask hard questions like, Who am I? What am I capable of? Do I see myself the way the Father does? Can I? I hope it challenges their idea of identity and then gives them hope to see themselves and others more clearly. Because that’s how these stories have impacted me, and we are all really just the same. 

OBM says:  I read this book over the course of a day.  It sucked me in, the wanting to know the end of all the characters’ stories.  I personally enjoyed this book so much more than the second one and felt that it came back around to the original feel of the first book, The Choosing.  I love that there are discussion questions at the end, not because I am in a book club, or because I have anyone to discuss the book with, but because they make me think a bit more about the story.  It’s an odd genre- this post-apocalyptic/dystopian but decidedly Christian one-since that possibility doesn’t really line up with how I understand end-times to work, but it does give YA readers who enjoy the post-apocalyptic genre a faith filled series to enjoy.  And reading Ms. Dekker's Q&A made me look at the themes beyond the possibility of whether the scenario was plausible or not belief-wise in my mind's eye.  I did thoroughly enjoy the entire series-it's very readable, and definitely draws you into the story that she is telling.  The one character I struggled with a lot was Aaron, as I wasn't sure what he was exactly supposed to represent, and so I'll share Ms. Dekker's words on him from her Q&A:  What is he supposed to represent and what kind of spiritual leader is he? I like to leave this one open, which I know isn’t really the answer you want. I want the reader to decide who he is to them. For me he’s a guiding light, an angel maybe, a representation of the spirit who communicates with us and leads us. He can be many things—mostly, though, he’s a great way to hear truth.  I'd wholeheartedly agree that he was the character through which the greatest amount of Biblical truth was spoken.

The Seer series in general, and The Returning specifically, is available on and in bookstores everywhere.
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