Thomas Hunter continues his mission to save the world from the deadly Raison Strain virus in RED, the second volume in Ted Dekker's "The Circle" trilogy. This time, though, the countdown is much nearer the eleventh hour, when the virus will begin to annihilate the world's population. Only by discovering the formula for the antivirus will the world be saved, and Hunter --- an unlikely hero with no background in chemistry --- may be the planet's only hope.
But Hunter doesn't need a scientific background. In fact, he needs little more than a good night's sleep to keep moving closer to finding the formula the world so desperately needs. As in BLACK, the first book in the trilogy, each time Hunter falls asleep in this dimension he wakes up in another dimension, a futuristic world that has only a fading memory of the events surrounding the release of the Raison Strain by terrorists willing to die in their pursuit of global power. In that dimension, Hunter seeks a long-lost history book chronicling the earlier events in this dimension. His pursuit of the book there mirrors his quest for the antivirus here.
As he draws nearer to finding what he is seeking, he acquires skills and information --- precious little at a time, it seems --- in the alternate dimension that carry over into this world to give him supernatural abilities and uncanny knowledge. That makes Hunter a very important man, both to the world leaders trying to avoid a global catastrophe and to the terrorists who have brought the world right to the brink of such a catastrophe. But for the first time, it appears as if the relationship between the two dimensions may not be as it originally seemed, setting up some intriguing possibilities for the final volume, WHITE, which releases in the fall.
Fans of Dekker will not be surprised to find that the author carries all this off with considerable skill. Hunter's life flows between the two dimensions so naturally that you don't even think twice about the probability that dream-like travel between two realities could exist. Dekker is equally adept at allowing the suspense to build through the progression of the events in the story; the build-up never feels forced or heavy-handed. And he makes sure that the beautiful Monique de Raison, whose company developed the vaccine that mutated into the deadly virus, needs to be rescued once again. Don't be surprised if you start to hear the theme music to Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark in your head as you're reading one section of the book.
There's a third dimension in the trilogy, of course --- the spiritual dimension. In RED, the underlying Christian message is much more subtle than in BLACK, making this one a stronger book. Readers new to the trilogy should read the books in sequence, because RED won't make a lot of sense without the background that BLACK provides. As for those readers who have been eagerly awaiting the second book, rest assured --- you won't be disappointed.
Reviewed by Marcia Ford on June 9, 2004