Book Review (with a brief film comparison): ‘Thr3e’ by Ted Dekker

Posted: 23 November 2013 in Book reviews
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What would you do if you were told you had to answer a riddle within three minutes or you would die?  Do you think you could do it?  What if it didn’t matter?  What if you were still going to die? Would you still want to know why?


Kevin Parson is a seminary student at the Divinity School of the Pacific in California.  He is a bright student and a deep thinker.  He is also hiding a terrible secret; one so terrible he can’t even remember what it is.  So when he is demanded by a mysterious Richard Slater to confess his sin or be killed, he has no idea what he is talking about.  He narrowly escapes being blown up in his car once his three minute deadline passes and he can’t figure out the accompanying riddle.  No one is hurt in this attack, but in a separate attack brought on by Kevin’s not following Slater’s instructions, Kevin’s canine best friend Damon is killed.

Enter FBI Special Agent Jennifer Peters.  Her brother had been killed by the Riddle Killer, a man who contacts random people and kills them if they can’t answer the riddle, when she got to close to catching him.  This case resonates personally with her and she demands to be put on it.  She almost feels it her personal duty to catch the guy and save Kevin to make up for her brother.  When she meets him, she even sees her brother in him.

In a matter of days, Los Angeles is terrorised by Slater as Kevin, Jennifer, and Kevin’s best friend Samantha uncover clues to determine who Slater is and why he is doing this.  The clues seem to point to Slater being a boy that Kevin locked in a basement at an abandoned warehouse after he threatened to kill both Kevin and Sam.  But why did he wait so long, 20 years, to come after them?  Why now?  Sam has a theory, one she only shares with Jennifer.  What if the boy is actually a split personality of Kevin’s?  Could it be possible that Kevin was terrorising himself?

I’m only going to write a brief film comparison.  The film was crap. Don’t waste your time with it.  The script and acting was painful and as always, the plot barely matched up with the book.  The relationship with Dr Francis was nonexistent, the part where his classmate is almost blown up never even happens in the book, the warehouse scene was completely inaccurate, how Kevin got the gun and ended up in that neighbourhood was wrong, and although it is trivial, Kevin’s house is not even right.  I understand that there needs to be some changes, but come on.

Alright.  So about the book.  I really enjoyed it.  I picked it up because I’d thought I’d seen the film and at the least I remembered knowing about it.  The book is so cleverly written.  When Sam finally discloses her belief that Kevin might have a split personality, I couldn’t determine if it was really him or if Sam had a split personality, and at times I wondered if there was something up with Jennifer.  It really kept you guessing right until the very end.

The characters are beautifully detailed as well.  Aunt Balinda is a serious crackpot and a psycho.  You don’t see her very often in the book, but when you do you don’t like her.

Kevin is a handsome, tortured soul.  He has managed to escape from destructive environment and strived to make something of his life.  Hence why he is at the seminary.  He keeps his past a secret, even from his best friend Samantha, who he also crushes on.  She has no idea what he went through at his aunt’s hand, nor about what he did to the boy.  He has a thirst for knowledge and a general naivety seen by both Dr Francis and Jennifer.

The other main players, Jennifer, Samantha, and Slater, and described nicely throughout the book so that you gain a basic understanding of their motives for helping (or hurting in Slater’s case) Kevin.  Each of them feel some personal drive that is well detailed in the course of the story.

The flow of the writing is done quite well.  I found no glaring plot holes nor did I stumble upon and inaccuracies.  All in all, it was expertly written.  You could tell a lot of research was done to understand certain religious aspects and elements a psychiatric nature.  Even if much of the scientific and theological information was made up, it was very believably written.

I will warn that it does have religious commentary in the beginning and at the end.  I found the commentary to be very insightful dealing with concepts of faith, trust, free will, trials, and the never-ending battle between the good and evil in all of us.

This book is a wonderful example of a psychological thriller.  I honestly cannot wait to read more of his books (which I believe he has a total of 36 out now).  And like I said before, don’t watch the film.  You will only regret it.  Read the book.  Enjoy 😉

To buy on Amazon

To buy on Barnes and Noble


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