PUBLICATION DATE: JUNE 5, 2012
** FIRST PARAGRAPH CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR FORBIDDEN **
ine years ago Feyn sacrificed herself to ensure Jonathan could come to power and now his time to rule is quickly approaching. Within days he will turn eighteen and take his place as Sovereign of the world. However, Rom’s carefully constructed and nurtured plans take an unexpected turn when Saric discovers Feyn’s location. Instead of Jonathan giving Feyn life, Saric does. But is the life contained in Saric’s blood true life? With Saric’s blood flowing through her veins, her loyalty to her Maker is without question, which leaves the Mortals wondering how Jonathan can possibly come to power. In a book that requires serious suspension of disbelief and struggles with unimaginative, dull characters, Mortal continues to follow the path of Forbidden in being little more than a variation of the Circle series.
I feared Mortal was in trouble when it took me three tries to make it through the first ten pages. However, I’m fairly optimistic and I thought that possibly this book just started out slow. Unfortunately, the slow start doesn’t end until 200+ pages and even then only has short bursts of engaging action. With the exception of approximately 75 pages, this book was a struggle to read. So much so that at one point I rewarded myself with an ice cream sandwich for simply finishing a chapter without taking a break. I’m sorry to say, but this book is essentially Red with a little White, watered down and very, very dull.
One of my biggest complaints with The Book of Mortals series continues to be its similarities with the Circle series. However, there are some differences between the two series, the most noticeable being the lack of any true object of worship by the characters in Mortal. Part of what makes the Circle books phenomenal is their consistent reminder of God, His love for us, and our desire to live life with Him. Unlike the Gathering in the Circle books which focuses on Elyon, the Gathering (yes, it’s called The Gathering) in Mortal has no purpose other than to celebrate life. Perhaps that’s the authors’ point, that these characters are worshiping life and not the Creator of their life, but it just makes the whole event feel empty and meaningless. Granted the characters in Mortal have no true concept of God or exactly what Bliss is, but it makes parts of this book feel pointless. Again, maybe that’s the point of this story, but it doesn’t make for particularly engaging or meaningful reading material.
An even bigger issue with this series is the dull, flat, lifeless characters. While Mortal appears to make an attempt to fix some of the problems with characters, they’re still solidly one dimensional. Rom is the worst; I struggled to make it through every chapter which featured him. Like all the characters, he has a singular focus and he never grows beyond that focus. He wants Jonathan to become Sovereign, so even though he wants to reach Feyn, ultimately his character is limited by his one objective. Same true for Roland, except his focus is his people. Jordin’s focus is Jonathan. Saric’s focus is power. I want more from these characters so that I will be surprised by their actions. Instead, the predictability of this book is increased by the simplicity of characters that lack depth.
If by some chance you haven’t figured out who Jonathan represents by now, the rest of this paragraph is a spoiler for Forbidden and Mortal. I truly enjoy Jonathan’s character. He’s the only one that shows any sense of passion or depth. However, I’m honestly not sure if his character is that much better developed than the others or if I impose my own emotional attachment to him because he’s the Jesus figure in this story. Jonathan’s not that much different than the Jesus figure in the Circle series—having the same impulsive, charismatic enthusiasm about life and people that I see in my Savior. When Dekker sets his mind to depicting Jesus in a fun, creative, and loving manner, that breaks the stoic mold presented by the modern church, he succeeds. Jonathan is one of the few bright spots in this series, but then again, he’s also based on the greatest personality in history.
The allegorical elements of Mortal do not completely work for me. This series pretty much focuses on life/spiritual life through Jesus’ blood. However, there are elements that I think are supposed to be allegorical, that I simply don’t get or I only partially understand. For example, I don’t get the ceremony with the heart at the Gathering. I think it has a purpose, but the purpose eludes me. Also, while I feel that the two makers, Saric and Jonathan is a good portrayal of God who gives life and Satan who presents a false life, I didn’t completely get (or perhaps agree with) some aspects of Saric’s character. I kept thinking everything would eventually click into place and make sense, but unfortunately it never did.
I’ll also admit that I simply don’t care for the allegorical elements concerning Jonathan’s blood. It seems like his blood or conversations, events, etc. about his blood, occupies way more page count than it should. Additionally, as the story wraps up, there are some parts dealing with his blood which left me shaking my head in disbelief. While these scenes probably should have been impacting and inspirational, I was way too concerned with the more practical questions of how this could happen and what would possess people to do this than to appreciate any symbolism.
I really struggled with several of the plans these characters come up with—they seriously lack any thought or consideration. More than once, I kept thinking, is that the best idea they can come up with? This book has several extremely, simplistic plans, totally lacking any thought, which leaves the reader needing to suspend disbelief in an effort to stay involved in the story. I refuse to believe Dekker and Lee couldn’t have come up with more complex, interesting, believable solutions.
Though I’ve pretty much done little but complain about Mortal, it isn’t all bad. There is a fantastic scene that takes place at the Authority of Passing that held my interest quite well. The scene is reminiscent of a Nazi concentration camp and adds an emotional depth and connection to the environment that I desperately need. It also serves as one of the few times in which the authors show a character’s personality rather than tell about it. Another nice aspect is the allegorical element depicting the Jewish people’s expectation of Jesus. There’s a nice subtly to this storyline and I appreciated feeling the confusion of the Mortals rather than being told about it. Also, the events leading up to and including the climax are fairly interesting. They’re very predictable, but at least I was able to stay engaged in the story for 50-75 pages.
While I didn’t particularly enjoy Mortal, I will finish the series when Sovereign releases next year. I have complete confidence that both Dekker and Lee can wow me in the final book.