My name is Alice Ringwald but the man who kidnapped me says that’s a lie…”
Water Walker by Ted Dekker is touted as a modern day parable highlighting the dual themes of forgiveness and freedom. Here’s my thoughts…
Episode One was riveting, mysterious, and suspenseful. Characters were introduced with just enough revelation to perk the readers’ interest and leave them wanting more. The plot laid a foundation, providing a place for secrets to dance. The author entices the reader to press on, promising amazing answers to the questions proffered at the onset of the story.
But the answers were unsatisfying or simply didn’t come. The mystery devolved into stale activity. A lull settled in during Episode Two.
The characters were flat. The main character, Alice/ Eden is thirteen at the start, described as odd and highly intelligent, with references made to a conspiratorial and scientific experimental history that she has forgotten, for which there is never any explanation. Her voice is stagnant and even when the story skips ahead to an eighteen-year-old version of Alice/ Eden, her voice remains stuck in her thirteen-year-old self: childish, boring, and compliant. The character holds no interest. Being kidnapped and immersed into a cult lend nothing to her development. Alice/ Eden is a bland chess piece who does nothing to gain the sympathies, compassion, or even hatred of the reader.
Then there’s The Outlaw, the obvious God figure in this modern day parable. There is no back story given to introduce this character, though it is a forgivable omission considering this is one of a series named after the character. As is, this novel doesn’t stand alone well. The lack of explanation of this pivotal, important person leaves a jagged hole. His appearance is disruptive and his authority shadows mere arrogance. The Outlaw holds all the secrets and annoyingly offers tidbits of information on a whim here and there, without showing any credentials or proof of reliability. As a symbol of God, the author is too obvious in his insistence the reader take everything he says by faith. This could be a successful endeavor, but in Water Walker, it felt forced, unacceptable, and choppy.
The plot twist/ epiphany was ridiculous. Forgiveness is a powerful and admirable state of being; but in this story, the journey to forgiveness is rushed and results in an unsatisfactory denouement for the conflict resolution needed. It’s more “forgive and forget,” than resolution of conflict. The antagonists are killed with kindness. They are simply forgiven, without repentance, consequence, or work. While the power of forgiveness has the ability to cause this kind of miraculous occurrence, in this novel, it was too easy and lazy writing. The main character just changes her mind and everything is sunshine, daisies, and rainbows.
Ted Dekker is a prolific author who delves into genres lacking representation by Christian authors, namely horror, science fiction, and speculative fiction. While admirable, this is an extremely difficult mission field. Authors of faith receiving respect in these genres, such as Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, and Anne Rice, are few. Frank Peretti, Jared Wilson, and Tim LaHaye have also ventured into this mission field with debatable success. The tendency to preach with evangelistic fervor instead of conveying a story and allowing the reader make their own conclusions disappoints both unbelievers and believers alike. Authors of faith sometimes fail to step aside and let God cut into the hearts and souls of people without a five point sermon and a sinner’s prayer to clinch the deal.
Walking on water may be an easier task.
Decide for yourself…
Find Water Walker on Amazon.
Check out Ted Dekker on Goodreads