Every so often, I’ll read a book and tell someone, “Wow. This would make a great movie.” Ted Dekker’s Blink was that kind of book.
But once in a very great while, I’ll read a book and realize something even better: there is no way this could ever be a movie. Why? Not because it’s not exciting, but because it’s such a clear illustration of the power of the written word. There are things that can be done with the written word that no movie could ever accomplish. That’s one of the highest praises I can give to a book.
Thr3e is such a book.
(UPDATE: And yet... there IS a movie coming out now. I'll probably see it, but I have extreme doubts about its ability to live up to the novel.)
In some ways, I feel inadequate to review this book. It demands a second reading. The conclusion to the story is so twisted, so mind-blowing, that it throws every single scene in the book into a new light.
Thr3e combines the “pursuit” aspects of Blink with the most intense psychological thriller imaginable and the absolute tension of a fast-paced, desperate hunt for a madman. Do not start reading this book unless you’re ready to keep reading. Thr3e doesn’t just pull you in - it puts a time bomb under your chair and demands that you keep reading or else.
You see, that’s the way the story begins. Kevin Parson is driving home one day when he receives a call on his cell phone. A mysterious man with a gravelly voice demands that Kevin confess his sin to the world in three minutes, or his car will be blown up. Without a clue as to what sin the psycho is talking about, Kevin ditches the car. Precisely three minutes later, it blows up.
Another call. Another threat. Another bomb.
The story only accelerates from there. Who is the villain here? Is it a serial killer the media has dubbed the “Riddle Killer,” or is it someone from Kevin’s troubled past? Or both? Nothing is what it seems.
Ted Dekker has proven once again that he is one of the best fiction writers in the business. He’s taken his writing style in a new direction, with a new challenge, and proven himself equal to it. (And his next novel looks to be something entirely different again.) This novel is like nothing else in the Christian fiction market, and very little in secular fiction, as well.
It’s hard to think of any complaints. Halfway through the book, I ran across a scene that seemed very flawed, and planned to mention it in the review. But after reaching the conclusion, I realized that the pieces I thought were flaws were actually clues. Very impressive. Some readers might have a problem with the ending, I suppose, but it’s one of those things that, on further reflection, makes perfect sense. I can’t really say more without giving away too much.
The book is more "gritty" than most traditional Christian fiction, but I found nothing objectionable about it.
Thr3e could also be seen as a parable. It’s a parable about the nature of good, the nature of evil... and the nature of man. As such, the obvious “Christian” content is significantly lower than previous books by Dekker, but the lesson is a valuable one.
At the risk of sounding too ebullient, Thr3e is easily my favorite new book of 2003 so far, and might even reach into my all-time favorites. Highly Recommended.
(Note: There are two different covers to this book - black & white. White just happened to be the only one my bookstore had in stock.)