Return to Authority City - The Return by Rachelle Dekker [Review & Blog Tour]

After a surprising time-skip, The Returning brings Rachelle Dekker's dystopian Seer Trilogy to a satisfying conclusion. Read on for the full review!

The Returning by Rachelle Dekker - Book Review and Interview by The Artist Librarian
© 2017 Tyndale House
Title: The Returning [The Seer Trilogy #3]
Author: Rachelle Dekker
Published: 2017 by Tyndale House Publishers

About the Book:
Twenty years have passed since Carrington and Remko Brant's baby, Elise, was kidnapped and they were forced to leave her captive in the Authority City. Though they fled with the Seers far from Authority reach, they've never given up hope of rescuing their daughter from the man who betrayed them. Now Authority President, he's ushered the city into a new era of "peace" -- one where the Scientist Roth Reynard's Genesis Serum has eradicated all memory of emotion or rebellion.

But the mysterious Aaron and his Seers are once again on the move, threatening the illusion the Authority has worked so hard to build. As the Seers send seven chosen warriors to rescue Elise and bring restoration to the Authority City, the lines are drawn for a final battle between light and darkness. The key to ultimate victory may rest within the strangely powerful girl who has felt forgotten but was never abandoned -- a truth she'll need to wage war against the powerful forces of evil.  

The Artist Librarian Review:
Reviews of previous titles in the trilogy:  The Choosing (#1) & The Calling (#2)

I was almost scared to read The Returning.  Let me explain --I have a love/hate relationship with Ted Dekker's novels.  He's a great writer and I was immersed in his worldbuilding and characters, but his series endings never gave me the satisfying conclusions I was personally hoping for.  For example, both the prequel/sequel Green in his Circle Series or what I personally felt was a disconnected, "did-this-have-to-be-written" last two novels of The Lost Books.  His series' finales never completely met the full potential that the previous books built up, leaving me bittersweet, slightly disappointed feelings toward his series.  I realize that this doesn't really have anything to do with his daughter, Rachelle Dekker, but irrationally, all of this was in the back of my mind as I began to read The Returning.  Fortunately, Rachelle's Seer Trilogy closes with a satisfying, though some might say quick, conclusion.

I was taken aback for a moment when I first heard that The Returning would take place 20 years after The Calling.  I was fully expecting book three to continue immediately after.  Though Carrington and Remko have roles in this book, the main character truly is Elise, who we last saw as an infant.  New characters, such as the seven young people chosen to infiltrate Authority City, were great.  I wish we had more time to learn more about them --Kennedy and Kane Brant, Elise's younger sister and cousin, along with Willis Lane, the son of one of the Authority members, were the most highlighted of the Seven, though even then, I still wanted to know more.  Maybe some e-novellas or short stories could be possible ... I definitely would enjoy that!

In my previous reviews, I mentioned that though this is a Christian dystopian trilogy, I felt that it still could crossover to the mainstream market without being being "preachy."  The Returning felt like it had more blatant spiritual elements of this trilogy because of constant referrals of embodying light and darkness.  Personally, as a Christian, these elements really stuck out to me, but there were also things that weren't clear enough to be distinctly "Christian" --it seemed like the spiritual elements focused on finding the light within yourself and though it's inferred that the light was given or placed there by the Creator or a higher power, it's abstract enough that it might not sit well with some Christians theologically.  I give it pass since it's a fantasy world, but it did personally give me a slight pause, like something was "off."  Also, the light and darkness gave people supernatural powers that made it seem "too easy" at times, but again, this is a fantasy novel ... However, I did like the emphasis Dekker placed that even "the bad guys" or those who were consumed by darkness also were originally "children of light" and could still be redeemed.  In the current world we live in, I think it's good to keep the perspective that God loves all people, even those who oppose him.  If the main theme of The Choosing was identity and The Calling's was fear, I think The Returning's theme is forgiveness ...  

Overall, I enjoyed the Seer Trilogy and am intrigued to see what Rachelle Dekker will write next!

[Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.]

As a part of The Returning blog tour, read on for a brief interview with Rachelle!

Set the scene for The Returning. What has happened since The Calling ended?
Well, it’s been nearly 20 years, and the world has changed. I don’t want to give too much away  for those who haven’t read the first two, so I’ll just say the world is very different and much more dangerous than it once was. But something is brewing under the surface. Change is coming, and people know it.
I admit, the 20 year time-skip threw me off when I initially heard about it --I really expected book 3 to continue pretty close to the end of The Calling! =)

The Returning focuses on Carrington and Remko’s daughter Elise. Tell us more about
Elise’s character and her growth throughout the book.

Elise starts the book in a pretty dark place. She grew up without parents, believing she was abandoned, only to discover there’s an entire world that has been kept from her. Her journey can be divided into two parts, in my opinion: first, learning who she really is; and second, learning how to live that out. It’s the same journey we all take, and I believe that makes her pretty relatable.
I really wanted to follow Carrington and Remko at first, but I really enjoyed reading about Elise and the other "new" characters.

Aaron is a somewhat mysterious character throughout the series. What is he supposed to represent and what kind of spiritual leader is he?

I like to leave this one open, which I know isn’t really the answer you want. I want the reader to decide who he is to them. For me he’s a guiding light, an angel maybe, a representation of the spirit who communicates with us and leads us. He can be many things — mostly, though, he’s a great way to hear truth.
LOL, you're right, but I'll accept it!  Last question: How do you hope this book will resonate with your readers?
I hope, as with both of the other books, that the reader sees themselves in the characters and that the story causes them to look inward. To ask hard questions like, Who am I? What am I capable of? Do I see myself the way the Father does? Can I? I hope it challenges their idea of identity and then gives them hope to see themselves and others more clearly. Because that’s how these stories have impacted me, and we are all really just the same.
Thank you so much, Rachelle!  Looking forward to seeing what you'll write next!

About the Author:
The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through storytelling. The Choosing was her critically acclaimed debut novel. Rachelle graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat Blair. Visit her online at www.rachelledekker.com.

Want to talk about Rachelle Dekker's Seer Trilogy? Are there any dystopian titles you're anticipating for 2017?  Leave a comment and let me know!
Return to Authority City - The Return by Rachelle Dekker [Review & Blog Tour] Return to Authority City - The Return by Rachelle Dekker [Review & Blog Tour] Reviewed by The Artist Librarian on 1/24/2017 10:57:00 AM Rating: 5

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