Title/Author: Afterlife by Merrie Destefano.
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Sci-Fi.
Publisher: Eos (September 28, 2010).
Favorite character: Chaz.
All in all: AMAZING and EXCEPTIONAL!
Synopsis: Welcome to your next chance.
Chaz Dominguez is a professional Babysitter in New Orleans, helping to integrate the recently deceased into their new and improved lives. Though Fresh Start has always been the only game in town, resurrection isn't all it's cracked up to be. Nine lives are all a person can get—and a powerful group of desperate, high-level Nine-Timers will stop at nothing to possess the keys to true immortality.
Now the only hope for Chaz and his family—and the human race—lies in the secrets locked away in the mind of Angelique, the beautiful, mysterious Newbie he must protect. ~Amazon.com.
What I didn’t like/reservations: I want to preface this with a disclaimer that it’s not so much I didn’t like it, but there was one scene that made me question the underlying theme in the book and I wanted to discuss it. ***HUGE ENORMOUS SPOILER ALERT: (I hid as best as I could. Just highlight to read clearly.) I felt that the concept of life after death in this book was an unknown and that is why people wanted to live for more than one life and why others were searching for immortality. When Chaz sees Heaven and Hell, it took the mystery out of it. Now maybe he only thought he saw it, but it was enough to convince me as the reader and that sort of took away the questioning element of an afterlife. But maybe Merrie’s point wasn’t to make the reader question whether there was an afterlife or not, but to make the reader question what their choices would be. Heaven? Living again? Immortality? I suppose that not all people really knew there was a heaven/hell like Chaz did and therein lay their questions. Does it mean that people do not have faith because they want to keep living? I would not have thought of putting that element in the story. I thought it was an interesting choice. :END HUGE ENORMOUS SPOILER ALERT***
What I liked: This book blew me away. I feel that Destefano said, “What if?” and then really thought about the ramifications one or two steps further. The way that she envisioned the future and the consequences of “jumping” (when you are finished with one life your soul goes to another body that is waiting for you) in society is fascinating and worthy of economic, religious and spiritual discussions.
One of the reasons I picked up this book was because it took place in New Orleans. The other reason was the premise. By looking at the cover, I really thought it was going to be focused solely on a heroine, sort of like an Anita Blake or Mercy Thompson type of story. It even took me almost to the end of the first chapter to realize that Chaz was a male because of my pre-conceived notion. Then when the POV switched to Angelique, I realized that she is the character depicted on the cover. Chaz is the main protagonist but I loved the cast of supporting and just as important players and their differing point of views. It gave a lot of depth to the plot, and made the story exciting and the mystery more compelling.
The language is exceptional, and the story is distinctive. They both flowed in and around each other. Reading Afterlife was like peeling back the layers of an onion. Things weren’t explained, they were hinted at, then revealed slowly and the reveal was like finding a missing puzzle piece. Not one part of this book was boring, not one paragraph, not one sentence.
Afterlife is sort of like watching a dream. It can get complicated, but it is fascinating, intriguing and very satisfying to follow. I loved the dark, moody and sometimes desperate feel of the future. I think that even the slang that Destefano created for the future is clever. The conflict in this story seems impossible to overcome. It is a maze that I never could have guessed could have been resolved successfully, but the author thought of a way to do it.
You know when you watch one of those talent shows and someone steps onto the stage and belts out a song that leaves your mouth hanging open? This is what this book did to me.
I usually do a 5 star rating. This book earns 6 stars out of 5 for me.