Also by this author: The Promise, The Drummer Boy, Sinner, The Dream Traveler's Quest, Into the Book of Light, The Curse of Shadownman, The Garden and the Serpent, The Final Judgment, Millie Maven and the Bronze Medallion, Millie Maven and the Golden Vial
Series: The Circle Series #0
Published by Thomas Nelson on September 1, 2009
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Fantasy, Suspense
Buy on Amazon
AS FORETOLD BY ANCIENT PROPHETS, an apocalypse destroyed Earth during the twenty-first century. But two thousand years later Elyon set upon the earth a new Adam. This time, however, He gave humanity an advantage. What was once unseen became seen. It was good and it was called..."Green."
But the evil Teeleh bided his time in a Black Forest.
Then, when least expected, a twenty-four year old named Thomas Hunter fell asleep in our world and woke up in that future Black Forest. A gateway was opened for Teeleh to ravage the land. Devastated by the ruin, Thomas Hunter and his Circle swore to fight the dark scourge until their dying breath.
But now The Circle has lost hope. Samuel, Thomas Hunter's cherished son, has turned his back on his father. He gathers the dark forces to wage a final war. Thomas is crushed and desperately seeks a way back to our reality to find the one elusive hope that could save them all.
Enter an apocalyptic story like none you have read. A story with links to our own history so shocking that you will forget you are in another world at all. Welcome to "GREEN." Book Zero.
FOUR NOVELS. TWO WORLDS. ONE STORY.
There has never been a more hyped Dekker novel. After the release of Black, Red, and White in 2004, Ted Dekker expanded the world of the Circle into what became known as the Books of History Chronicles, a loosely-connected assortment of books that all tied back together and found a conclusion with Green. Literally, for about five years, all of Dekker’s books had some tie to the BoHC. The Paradise Trilogy explained to us the enigmatic epilogue of White, following the story of a boy named Billy who unleashes a great evil on the world. The Lost Books expanded Other Earth, telling the story of Johnis, Billos, Darsal, and Silvie as they go on a quest to find the lost Books of History. Even Dekker’s standalone novels like Skin find some connection (a mere easter egg or something more?) and a core disagreement between Dekker and Frank Peretti in their collaborative novel House was how much BoHC Dekker could write into the novel.
Meanwhile, the Dekker fandom had exploded. It was the earlyish days of the Internet and fan forums were all the rage. Dekker’s fan forum had cultivated a community that went beyond his books and were a social gathering place for thousands of fans. In 2009, partially to promote Green and partially because the fandom demanded it, Dekker and Thomas Nelson hosted a Circle-themed convention called The Gathering and it was there, amid a recreation of the world of Black, Red, and White that Green was introduced into the Circle. There was a book trailer with a Lord of the Rings-esque voiceover and everything. And all that was followed up with a massive social media campaign with a whole host of prizes. I still have posters of the book rolled up somewhere in storage.
The hype for this book was immense and, was it possible that we as fans were asking too much of it? The trilogy was redemptive history told in one story over three novels in beautiful fashion. Could Green recreate the tone, symbolism, and atmosphere of its predecessors while encompassing the larger Books of History Chronicles and giving their storylines a satisfying conclusion? And…and could it do all that as a book dubbed as both sequel and prequel?
No it could not.
That doesn’t make Green a bad novel. In fact, contrary to some other strong opinions I’m certain will be expressed in various comment sections wherever this review is posted, Green—considering the massive job it had to do—handles itself quite well. It provides a compelling storyline with apocalyptic imagery befitting its place as the BoHC’s Book of Revelation.
As foretold by the ancients, an apocalypse destroyed Earth during the twenty-first century. But two thousand years later Elyon gave Earth a new Adam. This time humans had the advantage. What was once spiritual and unseen was now physical and visible. But no matter. Humans, with their free will, succumb to sin once again.
It was into this world that Thomas Hunter was unexpectedly thrown. Through the tale told in Black, Red, and White, Thomas asserts himself as leader of the Circle, a remnant of those who remain true to Elyon. But those days have long passed and the apocalypse of their world is upon them. The Circle is fractured. Dark forces are aligned against them. And once again, Thomas Hunter must save his world.
Dekker’s writing in Green sets itself apart from the Trilogy in a couple different areas. First of all, it is inherently more apocalyptic. Deeper, darker, and filled with allusions, metaphors, and symbolism. The parts that readers have said disturb them, well, they were meant to disturb. Second, Green primarily takes place in the future earth—Other Earth—thus lending itself to more elements of fantasy, especially as Dekker expands on the mythos. Dekker’s use of Biblical allusions and metaphors is astounding, but perhaps comes off a bit too strong or strange for those who don’t understand or enjoy the symbolism of it all.
Before the book was released, Dekker argued that the book could be seen as a prequel, as the end of Green leads readers right into Black. It’s a circular storyline that pays homage to Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, but while the Sisyphean journey was befitting of Roland’s story and King’s writing, such a literary device wasn’t natural to the story, tone, or symbolism of the Circle Trilogy. Green ends with Thomas Hunter being offered a chance to relive everything again for the chance to save his son, Samuel. A lot of readers did not like this ending, as it virtually condemned Thomas to reliving the story over and over again. Quoting from the top-rated Goodreads reviews:
“Now suddenly, because things do not end the way Thomas wants, Elyon gives him a do-over? And the story continues into Black so that Thomas is trapped in an endless cycle of futility and pain (since there will never be another outcome). This is a pathetic, weak, somewhat cruel representation of Christ and inconsistent with the portrait from the first three books.”
“The ending of Green was such a huge stretch, I was left with a very bad taste in my mouth. Frankly, it ruined the whole series for me. I literally threw the book down in disgust.”
So yeah. It was such a criticized move that Ted offered readers an alternative ending to Green in the omnibus edition. Writing on his Facebook page, he said:
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the original ending of Green! naturally, I wrote it. But I also love asking questions like ‘What if?’ The 4 in 1 has BOTH endings in it. Most writers refuse to look at stories as belonging to their readers. I see the Circle as a story that is yours as much as mine, and as such it seems right to give some of you an opportunity to discover how the story might have ended differently than the way I originally wrote it. There is no compromise here, only creativity.
Like life, stories may have alternate endings spawned by the choices we make. So now you make the choice. It is, after all, your story as much as mine.
For those who already own the series and don’t want to shell out for yet another copy, my deepest apologies. Maybe you could borrow or beg a copy 🙂 The alternate ending is roughly 15 pages at the end of the book.
Predictably, this alternate ending became subject to its own controversy because it pivoted from Thomas going back through the circle in an attempt to save Samuel to Samuel already being saved—prompting reader cries of universalism. (Which is a position that Dekker would come to endorse wholeheartedly in his Beyond the Circle duology.)
As literature, the alternate ending aligns better with the story, but both endings are drastically different than anything from the OG trilogy. Green functions less as a book Zero or Book 4 and more like an overarching conclusion to the BoHC that reflects a very different Ted Dekker in both theology and writing style than the Dekker who wrote Black, Red, and White. Green—well—I like the story. The alternate ending makes me sob. But I also have to acknowledge that it is inconsistent with some story elements and in its tone. It doesn’t feel like a Circle book. If I evaluate Green on that basis, it fails. If I evaluate it objectively as the evolution of an author and their thinking, it’s compelling literature.
In the end, I don’t know that I’ll ever come to a decision on exactly what I think about Green. I go back and forth with every reread and I find new things to love and hate each time. One thing I will tell you, and this is me giving you some inside knowledge, the proper way to read the series with Green as both prequel and sequel is like this: Black, Red, White, Green (original ending), Black, Red, White, Green (alternate ending). In no case is it ever book zero. Never read this as your first Dekker book. Green is the capstone of the Books of History Chronicles. Read it only once you’re good and truly prepared. Then be ready to both love and hate it, sometimes for the same reasons.