Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Outlaw by Ted Dekker

Author Ted Dekker's latest novel, Outlaw, releases today; and I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy. I have neither read nor reviewed an ARC before this, so bear with me.

I was unsure of what to think when I heard that Outlaw was going to be released. Early reviews stated that it is "different" than Dekker's other works, which, generally speaking, are "different" to begin with. (It is not often that I read novels that contain talking bats, demon-possessed serial killers, vigilante priests, people drowning in lakes only to be born anew, etc. Comprende?)

Those early reviews are right. In Outlaw you will not find serial killers who have Noxema fetishes or break people's bones or stuff like that. There aren't any vampires or deadly epidemics that kill everyone, either.

What you will find is the story of a young woman named Julian Carter who is shipwrecked and "saved" by a tribe of islanders. Her infant son, Stephen, is presumed lost at sea. Julian's part of the story is written in first-person, and my heart broke for her as she is abused by the tribe, who is not welcoming of outsiders. In fact, those who wander into the valley they call home are never permitted to leave. Those who escape are killed.

Julian is permitted to live among them under one condition: that she "marry" one of the princes vying for control of the valley and produce a son for him.

This is gut-wrenching stuff, folks.

Dekker's trademark weirdness kicks in about halfway through the novel. It turns out that the first half of the book is Julian's handwritten account of her first few months with the tribe, and her son, Stephen (who didn't drown after all) was presumably reading it. He's twenty years old now, because eighteen years have passed since Julian was taken captive. Now it's up to Stephen to rescue her from the tribe...or is it?

Unfortunately, I didn't identify with Stephen very well. After being separated from his mother he had a VERY unusual upbringing, and some of the conversations he has with his mentor left me scratching my head a bit. There's a lot of philosophizing. Or is theologi-phizing? And then it gets trippy. REAL trippy. What started out as a reasonably "normal" story turned into something far different by the end.

Was this my favorite Dekker novel? No. Was it my least favorite? Definitely not. For those who can appreciate a touching story and food for thought, Outlaw is a must-read.


The story of how I, Julian Carter, and my precious two-year old son, Stephen, left Atlanta Georgia and found ourselves on a white sailboat, tossed about like a cork on a raging sea off of Australia's northern tip in 1963, is harrowing.

But it pales in comparison to what happened deep in the jungle where I was taken as a slave by a savage tribe unknown to the world. Some places dwell in darkness so deep that even God seems to stay away.

There, my mind was torn in two by the gods of the earth. There, one life ended so another could begin.

Some will say I was a fool for making the choices I made. But they would have done the same. They, too, would have embraced death if they knew what I knew, and saw through my eyes.

My name is Julian and this is my story. But more, it is the story of my son who was born to change the world.

From deep in the impenetrable jungles where New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker was born and raised, comes OUTLAW, an epic adventure of two worlds that perhaps only he could write. Full of harrowing twists, sweeping violence, and wild love, Outlaw takes us beyond the skin of this world to another unseen.



  1. I still haven't red Ted Dekker, and I feel like a disappointment as a writer for not having tried him out. I have to say, I do appreciate an author who is willing to get a little bit weird.

    1. If you ever have the opportunity to meet Ted, you'll find that "a little bit weird" is an understatement. I mean, he grew up in the jungle with cannibals. He says he's never eaten anyone, though.