Humanity has spread across the depths of space but is connected by AfterLife—a vote made by every member of humanity on the worth of a life. Bale, a disillusioned policeman on the planet Bleak, is brutally attacked, leading writer Razer on to a story spanning centuries of corruption. On Gehenna, the last religious planet, a hyperintelligent boy, Alef, meets psychopath Pellon Hoq, and so begins a rivalry and friendship to last an epoch.
I’m going to say right away that I loved this book. It has a gorgeous cover which was drew me in initially and ended up being an excellent Sci-fi with sprinklings of crime and thriller themes.
The book follows different plots and storylines that seem initially completely unrelated. The story is a satisfyingly complex exploration of humanity, immortality, religion and culture from an insightful and slightly twisted perspective.
There is Alef and Pellonhorc childhood friends on the religious planet of Gehenna where their lives are turned upside down by a criminal plot.
There is a noir cop mystery involving Bale. The story teller come journalist of Razer and the social introvert engineer that is Tallen. Which take place on the appropriately named planet of Bleak.
The book chops between these stories through the chapters, I was always wanting more of the story from whoevers chapter it was and then by the end of the next chapter I wanted to stay with the characters I was then reading about. This showed how well these two stories were written and spliced together.
A central theme of the book is AfterLife, which is a system of preserving the near-dead in stasis until their condition is curable. Memories are harvested first, and when cures are found, public votes – based on the lives of the preserved which people can watch – determine who will receive them.
This is not a quick book the author lets the story unfold at its own meandering pace. There are some sections of the book where the story is not moving forward but the world and characters are being explained, filled in and woven together.
I found the combination of futuristic world-building and thriller / mystery style plotting to be really effective, and very well handled.
My only negative that I would bring up would be that the whole book is building towards the ending, to this big crescendo and I wasn’t 100% happy with the way the ending played out. I thought after the slow burn of the story it was a little rushed and one of the twists I think was an unnecessary turn of the knife that wasn’t really needed (or perhaps I’m somewhat soft hearted). However, this didn’t take away too much from my overall enjoyment of this book.
This book has excellent writing that is engaging and exciting with twists along the way – 5 out of 5 biscuits.