Moments ago, I did the unthinkable. I finished reading the novel Skin by Ted Dekker.
My current state of emotion:I never want to read another Dekker novel.
Should I tell you about it? Sure. I think I owe it to anyone who would actually think about reading this novel. I must warn them about what is found within its pages.
Skin starts off with a woman in her twenties named Wendy, being run off the road by an unmanned pick-up truck. She meets two people, one of whom was bitten by a snake, who also have been ran of the road by the same truck. They run in to the local authorities who are looking for a killer on the loose. A killer named Red.
Why is his name significant? Maybe because two of his previous novels feature killers by the name of Black and White. Black, Red, and White are the titles of a trilogy that Dekker wrote, that was actually good. So good, in fact, that Dekker started writing his own fan fiction. The last four novels that he has written are loosely tied in to the trilogy in some form or fashion.
This killer, Red, has a fondness for eating large quantities of mustard after a kill. Why? It calms his nerves. That's about all you get on that. But this leads to classic lines like "Pass the mustard". What context is this in? Well, Red is just thinking over his next move in the sick life or death game he is playing with the main characters, he smiles and says, "Pass the mustard." Now that is bad ass. Sends chills down my spine.
Oh, right. Characters! Very poorly developed. He gives a couple of them interesting backgrounds, but never delves into their issues in any meaningful way. In the end, you don't really care much for them either way. At least I didn't.
So you drone on and on through pages of stuff that you have experienced over and over before in other works by Dekker. The killer traps them in a house. He wants them to kill each other. The whole time the identity of the killer is unknown. But, when you find out who it is, even though you didn't see it coming, you really don't care. Woohoo, the killer is some turd that was never really developed and plays a very unimportant role in the story up until this point.
But wait, that isn't the big twist. Ever seen The Matrix? Then this twist will not shock you in any way. You will sit there thinking, "It was cool in The Matrix, but this is just a rip off."
Here comes the spoiler, if you haven't already seen The Matrix.
The world isn't real! "WHAT?" you say. That's so original. Why hasn't someone already thought of that and made it into a big budget film staring "Ted'' Theodore Logan?
So the whole time they have been playing this game, an experiment, that your unclear on. Now they are pulled out of a game that has gone horribly wrong. Three people are dead and for some weird unexplained reason they have to go back into the game to "Finish the game".
Did we miss the fact that three people have already died? Why the hell are you sending them back in? WHAT? This all leads up to the main characters looking at each other and smiling like they are one Three's Company and they say, "This time we will play the game together." WOW! George Lucas would be proud.
Now at the end of it all, let me say this. Unless my resolve waivers, I am done reading Ted Dekker. I have read every novel he has written to date. The last five have been mediocre at best. I have found new authors I would rather spend my time and money on. Tim Pratt, John Scalzi, and James Maxey. With my new job, time spent reading has gone down considerably. Frankly, I want to enjoy Dekker's work. But ever since he wrote that Trilogy, he seems to have lost his touch.
On to The Last Colony by John Scalzi. WOOT!