Friday, February 3, 2017

The Returning by Rachelle Dekker

The Returning is the third (and final) book in the Seer series by Rachelle Dekker. This is the first book of hers that I have had the pleasure of reading, which means that my review is based solely on this book as a stand-alone rather than as the conclusion of a longer story. Since this book picks up almost 20 years after the ending of the second book, The Calling, and Rachelle does a wonderful job of introducing us to the current world and its inhabitants, I didn't feel that I was at a disadvantage for having missed out on the first two books. That being said, I do fully intend to go back and read the other books because of how much I enjoyed this one.

The Returning introduces us to two cities at odds against one another.

Trylin City is fully embracing the light, with complete faith in the absolute power of the light and all that can be accomplished through it. Never seeking to harm or find revenge, but hoping to find a lost daughter and to help the light spread back to Authority City.

Authority City is built on an illusion of peace and harmony, where almost all the inhabitants are given a Genesis Serum in order to "forget" memories, emotions, and rebellion. While there is no fighting, there is also no love. The leaders of Authority City are guided by the control and power offered by the darkness, believing that the light (and the emotions that come with it) are dangerous and will end life as they know it.

Elise is a young woman who was taken from her parents in Trylin City as a child and raised in Authority City. Being the only person in Authority City that is immune to the Genesis Serum, she forgot her true nature not by being injected (as the other citizens did), but by being taught that she was unloved, unwanted, abandoned, and worthless - both to her parents and to those who now comprise her little world. Things change when Elise starts realizing her own power, hidden in her true identity.
"Remember what I call you, beautiful daughter. The voice of the wind rumbled inside her, and another wave of tears stung behind her eyes. Remember who you are. Your identity lies in me alone, and I see you as blameless. Beautiful, perfect daughter." (page 226) 
As the power starts to shift from darkness toward the light, a great battle ensues. Elise struggles with learning her true identity, while other Seers from Trylin City question her believed ability to rescue the world from the pending darkness.
"Don't judge yourself for forgetting; otherwise we are right back where we started... Remember that all moments are love's way of bringing you back to yourself. Only in forgetting do you get the chance to remember... Even in moments of doubt, you are still perfect; even in times of fear, you are His. And once again, you get to walk through your doubt and fear and remember that you are the light of the world. Isn't that amazing?" (pages 311-312)
Ultimately, this is a story about forgetting, remembering that which has been forgotten, and forgiving. It is a powerful message for anyone who has ever struggled with finding their true identity or worth within the light, or who feels so covered by the darkness of their own suffering and shame that forgiveness seems like an impossible dream.
"All the suffering you face, my friend, you create yourself. Only you can choose to suffer. You can also choose to let it go." (page 355)
Rachelle has done a wonderful job at providing the words necessary to help the reader envision this world and the power struggle taking place within it. She has related powerful truths that every person could benefit from hearing, time and time again. This book has definitely earned its place on a shelf and in my heart, and will help serve as a reminder on those days that I am feeling inadequate for the path set out before me. 5/5 stars.

(Disclaimer: I received a free print edition of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.)

About the book's author (copied from inside book):
The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through storytelling. She won a Christy Award for her critically acclaimed debut novel, The Choosing, which was followed by two more books in the Seer series: The Calling and The Returning. 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

- Select Q & A with Rachelle Dekker -
(as supplied courtesy of Tyndale Fiction)
You talk about the power of belief in the book. What is the purpose of faith, and what makes faith so powerful in people’s lives?
Belief and faith are everything. We form our own realities. We make judgments based on the past and what we think the future will bring; then we shape our idea of what we are capable of around those beliefs. Imagine if we truly believed we were infinite sons and daughters of the creator. How different would the world look then? When we believe and have faith in who the Father calls us, then the world looks pretty different.
The theme of identity is explored in all three Seer books. How does forgiveness relate to identity?
For me, forgiveness is more about the one who feels wronged than the one who committed the wrong. What if, for a moment, you believed that nothing could harm you? That you, as a believer, are seated at the Father’s table and standing with him? Can anything harm the Father? If you believe no, then can anything harm you—the true you, the true spirited self? So then, forgiveness becomes more about letting go of false belief and stepping into the true identity that the Father gave to you. I know it’s radical, but belief like that could change the world, don’t you think?  
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.
 Purchase Links:
     Tyndale Fiction
     Christian Book

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