Friday, May 16, 2014

Water Walker

The second book in Ted Dekker's The Outlaw Chronicles series is entitled
Water Walker. The first part of the story (Outlaw) introduces us to a man named Stephen (Outlaw) who is the son of a missionary. Stephen grew into manhood under the guidance of a prophet and wiseman. He then went out into the world to spread the gospel. But the story of Water Walker is not about him. It is about a young girl living with a foster family. Alice is intelligent and sweet, but she has no recollections of her past, her memory extends back for only about 6 months. We learn that she was part of something called "Project Showdown" (which Dekker wrote about in his Paradise Trilogy - Showdown, Saint, Sinner). When the project was dissolved, the children had their minds erased and were distributed to different foster families. However, again, this is just part of the backstory to connect this work into Dekker's oeuvre and is not particularly relevant to this story.

It turns out that Alice was a child born of an affair between an rising-star senator and one of his staffers. The senator was gearing up for a White House run and needed to hide his tracks, so he used his connections to have Alice's mother Kathryn committed and then sent Alice off to Project Showdown. The senator later died, but set up a sizable trust fund for Alice to inherit once she turned 18. Kathryn, once she secured her freedom, was desperate to find her daughter but the trail was cold. When we meet her we find a woman definitely not of sound mind. She is being controlled by a man named Zeke, who has somehow found out where Alice is living and arranges to kidnap her from her foster family. Alice is then brought to an isolated compound where her mother subjects her to ritual cleansings and baptisms and rules upon rules, all under the watchful eye of Zeke. Zeke's dominance over Kathryn and Alice is all part of his elaborate plan to lay claim to the trust fund money. Alice, a pure soul, manages to maintain her sanity and learns to survive and adapt. Ultimately, Alice shows such love to her mother that her eyes are opened to what Zeke is doing and they escape his tyranny.

If you are a reader of Dekker, you will once again recognize his overused themes of "looking beyond the skin of this world" and "you are not your costume". Regardless of the hackneyed themes, I did enjoy the characters Wyatt (Alice's stepfather) and Bobby (Alice's stepbrother) who were genuine, sweet, and nicely fleshed out. Zeke and Kathryn where more like stock characters embroiled in a mostly contrived plot. This book was a reasonably quick read, and though it was nothing particularly deep or compelling or well developed, I still enjoyed my time with it. The final book in this series is entitled Hacker and is set for release later this year.