The Returning by Rachelle Dekker
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Genre: Fantasy / Dystopia / Young Adult
Series: The Seers Trilogy, Book 3
Be sure to check out my review for the previous books here.
Have you ever felt such sadness when a series you’ve come to love has finally come to an end? Well, that’s the case with this. “The Returning” is the third and final installment of The Seers Trilogy. This wasn’t Rachelle Dekker’s, daughter of Ted Dekker,best work. While I have mixed feelings (you’ll see why later), it was an excellent wrap up.
About the Book:
Twenty years have passed since Carrington and Remko Brant’s baby, Elise, was kidnapped and they were forced to leave her captive in the Authority City. Though they fled with the Seers far from Authority reach, they’ve never given up hope of rescuing their daughter from the man who betrayed them. Now Authority President, he’s ushered the city into a new era of “peace”–one where the Scientist Roth Reynard’s Genesis Serum has eradicated all memory of emotion or rebellion.But the mysterious Aaron and his Seers are once again on the move, threatening the illusion the Authority has worked so hard to build. As the Seers send seven chosen warriors to rescue Elise and bring restoration to the Authority City, the lines are drawn for a final battle between light and darkness. The key to ultimate victory may rest within the strangely powerful girl who has felt forgotten but was never abandoned–a truth she’ll need to wage war against the powerful forces of evil.
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When I first snagged a copy to review, I was excited. I loved the first two books in the series. Only after having finished reading, I didn’t find myself loving it. In fact, I’m honestly having a hard time figuring out what to write in this review. This is a work of fiction and the book was enjoyable, but there are a couple theological errors that must be addressed. There also stands the fact that I don’t want to come across like this is a bad book because if read as just fiction, it’s not. Due to this particular genre, I would fear that too many would gloss over the theology of this particular book, which is more in line with Unitarian Universalism rather than mainline Christianity.
It’s twenty years later where see very little of Carrington and Remko. They take a back seat this time and allow their oldest daughter, Elise, to take the lead. Elise was an interesting character that intrigued me. She was a prisoner and told her family didn’t want her all her life. Elise became the key for rescuing her friends, family, and the rest of the city that were under the Genesis Serum in the Authority City. This was interesting because that reminds me of Divergent.
Readers should read the prior books before beginning this one because there is a ton of background information in order to understand what’s going on and how the world became the way it is. For example, Dekker doesn’t describe the city and the Authority like she did in the previous books so readers will need to refer to those.
I wish we had a little more insight on the other characters because I struggled connecting with any of them other than Elise. Will and Elise are immediately drawn to each other and fall in love, but the romance was random and forced. It was like the author just decided two random characters should fall in love and decided not to show it except for the adorable way that they met. Then there’s Jesse who has a romantic love interest in Elise. That was plain weird. Jesse is old enough to be her father for he should be at least twenty years older than her. What was the point in that?
I’m not sure if this is the author’s theology or just simply trying to please the masses. It was noticed in the prior two books but seemed to appear even more so in this final installment. Aaron, who seems to be a Holy Spirit representation, explains to Elise that she is the daughter of the Father (referring to God) and that she is chosen. He also goes on to tell us that everyone is born of the Father, we just have forgotten who we belong to. What?! The Bible does not tell us that we are all children of God. The Bible tells us that we are all God’s creation (Colossians 1:16), and that God loves the entire world (John 3:16), but the only ones who are children of God are those who are born again believers (John 1:12, John 11:52, Romans 8:16, 1 John 3:1-10).
Ephesians 2:3 tells us that before we were saved we were, “by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1-3). This means that we are not all born as children of God. We are born in sin, which separates us from God and puts us on the same page as Satan who is the enemy of God (James 4:4, 1 John 3:8). Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me (John 8:42). 1 John 3:10 also tells us that those who aren’t saved aren’t children of God. So when do we become God’s children? We become God’s children once we are saved. The reason we become God’s children when we are saved is because we are adopted into God’s family through our relationship with Jesus Christ (Galations 4:5-6, Ephesians 1:5, Romans 8:14-17).
Aaron then goes on to explain the idea that we just have to reach down inside ourselves and remember who we belong to. Kind of like Star Wars theology:”The force is with you.” Again what? Dekker has the perfect opportunity to share the gospel message here but instead misses out.
Rachelle Dekker has a unique writing style from her father’s and she has the gift of writing an excellent book. This one however just wasn’t her best work.
Only recommended for those who are strong in their faith and know how to be discerning between fiction and truth.
Before I go, I know I mentioned some things about salvation and being a child of God. If you have any questions and are curious to know more, please feel free to contact me. My email is in the “About Becky” page on this blog. I would love to answer your questions! Or if you have something that you’d like me to pray for you about, feel free to shoot me an email with your request as well.
GotQuestions.org, “Are we all God’s children, or only Christians?”
*All Scripture references are linked from BibleGateway.com*
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
Q&A With Rachelle Dekker:
The Returning focuses on Carrington and Remko’s daughter Elise. Tell us more about Elise’s character and her growth throughout the book.
Elise starts the book in a pretty dark place. She grew up without parents, believing she was abandoned, only to discover there’s an entire world that has been kept from her. Her journey can be divided into two parts, in my opinion: first, learning who she really is; and second, learning how to live that out. It’s the same journey we all take, and I believe that makes her pretty relatable.
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 clear.
About Rachelle Dekker
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.