The realm of Christian fiction has experienced a revival, thanks to the work of Ted Dekker. After a hiatus from the genre, I stumbled upon his book, Black, on a friend’s table. Intrigued, I devoured it, followed by Red and White. My husband joined in, and soon we had read all of Ted Dekker’s books, rekindling our love for Christian fiction. Naturally, I was excited to embark on a new adventure with his latest series, The Dream Traveler’s Quest, co-authored with his daughter, Kara Dekker. However, my excitement was short-lived. Let me explain why.
A Deceptive Façade
At first glance, The Dream Traveler’s Quest appears to be a promising series. Set in the Circle world, the stunning cover art and a storyline tailored for 7-12-year-olds make it an enticing option for parents seeking captivating books for their young readers. The Amazon description only further fuels the anticipation:
“What if you could find a way to enter another reality full of wild and life-changing adventure? And what if every time you fell asleep, you woke up in that other reality? Welcome to the world of Theo Dunnery, a twelve-year-old boy who feels alone and full of fear when he stumbles upon an ancient book that draws him into another world. In that world, he learns he must complete a quest to find the Five Seals of Truth if he is to conquer his fears. Facing great odds and many enemies, Theo sets off on the adventure of a lifetime to discover who he really is as the son of Elyon and overcome the darkness that has haunted him for so long.”
However, it is essential to look beyond the captivating exterior and truly understand what lies within before sharing it with your children.
The Dream Traveler’s Quest presents a set of five Seals of Truth that the main character, Theo, must find on his quest. While the first seal, “God is infinite,” aligns with Christian beliefs, the second seal, “I am the Light of the world,” raises some hesitation. The books fail to incorporate the purpose of our light, which should lead others back to God, as Matthew 5:14-16 states. The emphasis is more on discovering one’s inherent power rather than the transformative process that God brings about in individuals.
Furthermore, the theology throughout the series raises additional concerns. The absence of repentance, the portrayal of God as a young boy, the loss of seals given by God, and the lack of divine presence as the characters uncover their true identities are disconcerting. Building upon these slight but significant differences, Ted Dekker walks a fine line that blurs the boundary between being one with God and potentially promoting the belief that one can become God.
The Dream Traveler’s Quest falls short in the realm of writing as well. The narrative often resorts to telling rather than showing, failing to immerse readers fully. The books, despite their brevity, feel slow, with the second book only gaining momentum halfway through. The characters lack depth, with Annelee, the girl, representing a stereotypical figure. The adults in the story appear nonexistent and uncaring, demonstrating little concern for their children’s well-being. The plot meanders to fit the inclusion of the seals’ message, leading to unnecessary risks and inconsequential storylines.
Some content in the series raises eyebrows as well. A sleepover involving two boys and a girl, justified by a study project, may not align with the values of all parents. The lack of concern from the adults when the girl falls ill adds to the unrealistic portrayal. Additionally, intense scenes, such as characters facing imminent danger of being burned at the stake, may be unsuitable for the intended 7-year-old audience.
Making an Informed Decision
Ultimately, the decision of whether to allow your children to read The Dream Traveler’s Quest rests with you. However, there are numerous superior books that seamlessly weave messages of God into their stories. While I don’t believe reading this series would harm children who may not pick up on the theological nuances, I also believe that time is precious and should be dedicated to high-quality literature.
I remain hopeful that Ted Dekker will return to crafting books reminiscent of the Circle Trilogy – books that captivate fantasy enthusiasts while illuminating God’s presence and guiding readers back to Him.
May my prayers be answered.