|"Aaru" by David Meredith|
|4 stars (very good!)|
When Rose dies, her younger sister (Koren) is angry and upset. Actually, that's an understatement. It's angry/upset on steroids! Some authors shy away from dealing with bereavement but David Meredith couldn't do this as "Aaru" wouldn't exist if there was no 'death'. It's such a tricky thing to portray fierce emotions in an imaginary character. It can be draining on both the author and the reader. But I have to say that David Meredith NAILS IT! The emotions are so raw, so real. I would be surprised if the author has never had a close bereavement. The reader really feels Koren's pain.
That's not to say I sympathised with her. Alongside the emotions was a large amount of teenage angst. (What can I expect - she's 13 and 1/2 years old!) I can't say I actually liked her personality. I didn't like her attitude towards her parents. I found it chokingly inconsiderate - after all, they were grieving too. But the (major) flaws in her personality make the character 3D. Real. As I'm always explaining to our first published author - Virginia Crow - when I dislike a character, it doesn't mean it's a bad story. Quite the opposite! Any story that can encourage deep feelings in a reader is a credit to the author.
Having said that, I certainly felt more than sorry for her in the last half of the book. I won't say much about what happens as I don't want to give away any spoilers, but the book took a very unexpected, very dark turn about half way through. Suddenly, paparazzi and teenage angst aren't the worst of Koren's worries. I found parts of this disturbing, as I think you're meant to, but I couldn't put the book down. I needed to see that everything would be resolved.
As I'm sure you've gathered, I was very impressed by this book. There were just a couple of things to mention, as I do with every book I post about. There were a few mistakes, small things like speech marks missing, and the formatting of one of the chapter headings. This makes no difference, of course, to the quality of the story, but with a book this good, I feel it deserves extra-extra proof-reading. I know when you put a book on a kindle, the formatting sometimes goes awry. This is annoying after you've put so much effort into writing/redrafting/editing/proof-reading.
Also, there were parts in the book when I wasn't as engaged. I think this is more down to me than the author, however. When Rose and friends were playing a game of football (or is it soccer?) I switched off a bit. My sister would probably have really enjoyed this as she's a football fan. A teenager (the book's desired audience) would have enjoyed it because of the teenage friendship dynamics among the group.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and really admired how the author understood teenagers and the emotions that run so near the surface! The writing style is excellent - readable, intelligent and unique.
You can find "Aaru" here. Available on Kindle Unlimited.
"…Death and the stillness of death are the only things certain and common to all in this future…"
Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.
She is sixteen years old.
Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.
Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.
What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.