Before starting this website, I’d become a lot more picky about my reading material. I’ve read so much that too much of modern fiction has become very trite and predictable. I want stories that will not only inspire me, but surprise me, something that’s becoming increasingly difficult to do. That’s why I’ve been greatly impressed with Ted Dekker’s writing so far. His first two books, Heaven’s Wager and When Heaven Weeps, were outstanding, both bringing me to tears and surprising me in unexpected ways.
I had high hopes for Thunder of Heaven, the third book in this series (though the books are only barely connected with each other). Dekker has a talent for taking Old Testament stories and weaving elements of them into modern-day settings. This time, he was going to take on the issue of terrorism (and yes, this was written before 9/11/01).
I was profoundly disappointed.
This book feels rushed. Maybe Dekker was too busy with his other series of books, co-written with Bill Bright. I don’t know. But this book is missing a lot of what made the previous two books so good. He tries to set things up for a “stunning revelation” at the end, but I had already figured that out when the villain of the story was first mentioned. The foreshadowing was much too heavy-handed.
Thunder of Heaven tells the story of two orphans whose parents are murdered in Venezuela in a bizarre CIA-drug lord conflict. God brings them back together in the midst of a terrorist plot against the US, into just the right circumstances, etc., etc. Any time I recognize “rogue elements of the CIA” in a story, it automatically turns me off. That’s so overused (not to mention unrealistic, considering the real-life limitations placed on the CIA). In addition, both the drug lord issue and terrorist nukes have been done before (and so much better) by Tom Clancy. This reads like a Cliff’s Notes version of two of Clancy’s novels thrown together, without any of the technical details or backstory that Clancy excels in.
Dekker still does an outstanding job of expanding the reader’s view of God. Dekker takes God out of all the neat little boxes that we place Him in. And that’s to be commended. Helen, the praying grandmother who links all three stories, is one of my favorite current fiction characters. The spiritual aspects of the story are insightful and encouraging. Unfortunately, the story itself just doesn’t match up in this instance.
The violence is muted in this story. And thankfully, Dekker is finally decreasing his annoying habit of having every character frequently utter, “Goodness!”
I highly recommend any other Ted Dekker book. This one, however, is Neutral (unless, like me, you can’t resist seeing what that wonderful Helen is going to say next).