Faith and Fiction Round Table Discussion: Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee

Title: Forbidden
Author: Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee
Genre: Christian fiction, dystopian fiction
Publisher: Center Street
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from the publisher
First line: There was never a body.

Goodreads blurb: A terrible truth has been revealed to one man: the entire human race has been drained of every emotion except one — fear. To bring life back to the world, Rom must embark on a journey that will end either in his own demise or a reawakening of humanity. But to bring love and passion back into existence will also threaten the powers of the world with the revolution and anarchy that had nearly destroyed them previously.

After happening upon a journal through strange circumstance, Rom’s world is shattered. He learns that humanity long ago ceased to “live,” that it exists today in a living death of emotions. In a terrible risk, Rom exposes himself to the vial of blood folded into the old leather of the journal. His change is fearful and fraught with mind-bending emotion. A once-pious observer of the Order’s passionless statues, he is filled with uncontrollable impulses. He is filled with love.

He is undone, terrified, and alone in the desolate world.

Among the Faith and Fiction Round Table bloggers, those of us who liked Forbidden seem to be in the minority. The characters and story took a while to grow on me, but by about halfway through, I was hooked. It is dystopian fiction, and I think this is not a genre typically read by a lot of the others. I still expected it to provoke some great discussion, but it seems like people were less engaged in our discussion this time – me included, even though I enjoyed the book. I’m not sure if that is just due to the time of year – school starting, things getting busy, etc. – or because of the disconnect with the book itself.

The aspect of the book that provided the most discussion is the role of emotion in our lives. The future that Dekker and Lee write of is truly terrifying. Can you imagine living in a a world where the only emotion you ever experience is fear, and all its variations? Anxiety, stress, terror, worry…. you experience these every day, but without joy, peace, love, happiness, elation, anger, sadness. As someone who has previously struggled with panic attacks, this is a future that scares me deeply.

However, as a Christian, I can understand why it would be tempting to want to get rid of extreme emotions. So often, it is my emotions which lead me into temptation. By giving in to them, I often hurt myself or others. And yet God created us, and he created us with the capacity for great emotion. As with everything else He created, our emotions were damaged in the fall. Our ability to control them and to respond to them correctly was hurt, and so we must wage a daily battle between our flesh and our spirit. Emotion is a beautiful gift, and like all good gifts from our Creator, our enemy seeks to pervert them and use them to his advantage. Would I want to live in a world that got rid of rage and hatred and greed? Yes, and one day I will. But if it was offered to me now, with the understanding that it would cost me other emotions like love and joy….that simply wouldn’t be worth it.

I loved the scenes that described Rom’s first experience with other emotions – they were beautifully written. Some of the other bloggers were bothered that there wasn’t more of a concrete ending, but since I knew that this was the first book in a trilogy before I ever started reading, I wasn’t bothered by it. It ends in a logical place, without a huge cliffhanger, but leaving it obvious that the story is far from over. I have added this book to my Series Reading page, and look forward to the sequel.

Faith and Fiction Round Table Partcipants:
~ Heather at Book Addiction
~ Julie at Book Hooked Blog
~ Sheila at Book Journey
~ Jennifer at Crazy for Books
~ Ronnica at Ignorant Historian
~ Nicole at Linus’s Blanket
~ Amy at My Friend Amy (our gracious hostess)
~ Thomas at My Random Thoughts
~ Liz at Roving Reads
~ Sherry at Semicolon
~ Florinda at The 3 R’s Blog
~ Tina at Tina’s Book Reviews
~ Brooks at Victorious Cafe
~ Hannah at Word Lily

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12 Responses to Faith and Fiction Round Table Discussion: Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee

  1. Sheila (Book Journey)
    Twitter: bookjourney
    says:

    Good review Carrie. I went into this one halfheartedly as Dekker had not been on my favorites list as of late with his most recent books. I found that once I got into the book (and apparently my pre- prejudices) I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sheila – I haven’t read anything by him since the Circle trilogy. I tried to read one that I thought was just a bit too scary for me, and haven’t tried his newer ones since. I have a friend who adores him, though. I liked his older stuff (Three, Blink) really well.

  2. Great thoughts!!

    I agree with our emotions that make us act like fools sometimes. I always need to remember to act on faith and not always emotion, which has gotten me in trouble or hurt others due to my knee-jerk reaction to certain things. The book in that sense was scary- I would hate to be controlled by only one desire and to lose my emotions, even the ones that make me sad or hurt would be terrible.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Tina – I know – I was thinking further about this today, and realized that without sadness, we couldn’t feel compassion to others. Without anger, would we ever defend people who are being victimized? Even the emotions we consider “negative” have a purpose.

  3. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    We saw these two at SIBA in Charleston. He is one WEIRD DUDE.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sandy – I’ve never seen him live or on video. That weird, huh? I may have to see if there are any interview videos on YouTube…

  4. Heather @ Book Addiction
    Twitter: BookAddictHeath
    says:

    I agree, Carrie. I liked the book but wasn’t too inspired to discuss it. I think a lot of that is just life getting in the way. I too was inspired by the idea of emotion being such an important part of our humanity, although I hadn’t thought about it much from the way you said – that emotions can be so damaging. They can be, for sure, so I guess that would be where the impulse to eradicate them would come from. But still, I can’t imagine a world without love or even sadness.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Heather – I guess that was the only reason I could think of for so many people to think that eradicating all emotions was a good idea. Those in power had a motive – people without emotion are easier to control – but for the rest of the world to go along, I think they would have had to play up how damaging emotion can be, if we let it.

  5. Florinda
    Twitter: florinda_3rs
    says:

    I found this to be one of the less “discussable” books we’ve read with the Roundtable this year, sadly. I’ve never read either of the authors before, and though I found the premise interesting, I was pretty lukewarm about the book itself. I thought it was telling that the only emotion that we allowed to survive was fear, which may also be the most primal – necessary for self-protection and survival at the individual level, and highly useful in exercising control.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Florinda – I am looking forward to A Passage to India – hoping we will get some more lively discussion going.

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