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Aaru – David Meredith #BookReview

Title:
Aaru

Author:
David Meredith

Genre:
Science Fantasy

Book procurement:
Received a copy of the book from the author for an honest review

Rating:

A promising 3 out of 5

Synopsis:

“…Death and the stillness of death are the only things certain and common to all in this future…”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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.

First Thoughts

The last book I read written by David Meredith was a Snow White retelling, or rather post Snow White, written in beautiful, flowing tones reflecting the fantastical fairy tale world. This book moves across that genre slightly to a more modern, science based world. The difference in style caught me off guard when I started reading. I didn’t know what to expect for the remainder of the book. After a rather slow start it started to pick up towards the end and into a brilliant end.

Also, I liked the references to real life characters and places, altered for copyright reasons I’m sure. Jonas Perry – I see what you did there Mr Meredith.

The Story

The story focuses on two main characters. Rose is sick and dying. Her hope comes one day in the form of a virtual paradise called Aaru, built by Elysian Industries (side note: Elysian means relating to or characteristic of heaven or paradise). Koren is Rose’s younger sister who looks up to her older sister and hates seeing Rose on her deathbed. Once Rose is sent to Aaru, she becomes the spokesperson for Aaru as the grief stricken sister who can still be with her now virtually immortal sister.

What begins as a beautiful after life for both sisters, they soon learn to come to grips with the various aspects of their new lives. Rose in the virtual world questions what it all is. Koren realises that being a celebrity is not all its made to be.

Lastly, there comes an intense danger to both sisters that completely rocks the very foundation of their new lives. I want to say more but it will become a spoiler so…

Writing

Initially the book was a bit slow. In a sense boring, and as much as I understand it was Mr. Meredith’s way of getting us to know the characters, some of it felt a little to drawn out. In my opinion we spent too much time with Rose in hospital, though I guess it helped to ground me in the idea that she was practically hopeless. Which makes the introduction of Aaru all the more compelling both to me as a reader, and to Rose as the recipient.

While I appreciated the slight references to real world characters (Jonas Perry, Ronaldo Casillas etc), it also ruined the illusion that this particular story is taking place on “this” Earth or “this” reality. It’s nothing major but it did distract me because in my head I kept changing in-book characters with their actual real-life counterparts.

 

The real story here in Aaru, despite the whole thing with Koren and Rose, is this idea of life after death. There were some religious crazies making appearances, questioning the whole idea of God, and how Elysian Industries is in a sense playing God. Elysian then states they are not playing God, but rather providing a platform where those who are about to die can continue to live on in their virtual world. In Aaru. But… are they really living though?

Unfortunately with these kinds of books, Christians are never depicted as anything other than ignorant idiots believing some old tome with religious zealousness that has no actual understanding of God. Using the bible as a means to justify their unjustified beliefs. Its an unfair portrayal and one held by too many people. Sadly, sometimes its true. (End Rant)

From the Christian perspective of not just reading the bible but learning of God’s character and our role (humans) as His creation, the soul cannot be downloaded into a computer. The mind? Sure. It is data after all.  The question all these Sci-fi kinds of stories ask is: Is the mind extracted into data, living as a remnant of the actual person, the person themselves? Or are they merely mind-data acting as data is expected to, in light of the tons of memories stored in hard drives, defining who they, as the “mind-data”, are supposed to be? I think of Transcendence with Johnny Depp.

 

Final Thoughts

Once I got through to halfway in the book, the whole story dynamic changed. It changed in the sense that there was finally some action. It’s all good and well to read about a soccer match straight out of Inazuma Eleven or Shaolin Soccer or reading about people flying and creating mansions (oh the biblical references in this book), and the romance building up, but all of this is the fluff around the real story. The story which is the idea of life after death, as explained above, but also the privacy and safety of being a celebrity.

The second half turned into a brilliant thriller and I loved every part after that. If the book had started out this way, I might have enjoyed it better. There were some uncomfortable scenes, necessary for the story, and this second half just didn’t hold back at all. To that, I give Mr. Meredith great credit.

All in all, if the second book (which is part of the first book in the Aaru Cycle) continues where this book ends off, I’ll be very happy.


Aaru was published July 9th, 2017.

Did you know: David Meredith teaches English in the Nashville area. This is his second published book.

About Author

David Meredith is a writer and educator originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. He received both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tennessee. He received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee. On and off, he spent nearly a decade, from 1999-2010 teaching English in Northern Japan, but currently lives with his wife and three children in the Nashville Area where he continues to write and teach English.

Author Page: DavidMeredithWriting


Are you an author who wants your book reviewed? Contact me on my site: NthatoMorakabi.com

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Author Spotlight

AuthorSpotlight

In the time that I’ve been writing book reviews, I have read amazing work (and some not so great) and all of them from great authors who are actually really nice people. Some I know personally and others are from across oceans, but one thing they all share in common, is having their works published. It’s an accomplishment worth noting and I would implore you to consider buying their books. I have even included book reviews as a way to convince you they are worth checking out:

 Angela Meadon

David Meredith

J.T. Lawrence

Michael Smorenburg

Sukanya Venkatraghavan

Warren Hately

Xane J. Fisher

And upcoming authors to the spotlight will include:

Ian Patrick

Jennifer Withers

Kerriann Curtis

Marry Ann D’Alto

Vanessa Hawkins


Read Them First

Let’s also not forget the amazing book blog that Vicky, Jen and I run over at Read Them First. Our blog focuses on:

  • New book releases
  • Book release dates
  • Book cover reveals
  • Author Interviews
  • Book recommendations

We love books, we know you do too, so drop by and be excited with us as we anticipate books from our favourite authors and genres, and those occasional moments when a new author tickles our fancy! Remember:

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Wednesday Book Review: The Reflections of Queen Snow White

The Reflections of Queen Snow White

Title: The Reflections of Queen Snow White

Author: David Meredith

Genre: Fantasy

Book procurement: Given by author in exchange for an honest review. You can buy it on Amazon.

Synopsis: (Goodreads)

What happens when “happily ever after” has come and gone?

On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven’s wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven’s fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White’s own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:

The king is dead.

The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.

It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what “happily ever after” really means?

Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

Review:

I received this copy from the author for an honest review. Normally outside of my genre, I was pleasantly surprised by this book right from the beginning. A unique opening sequence that back in at the end very well. Perhaps watching the Huntsman played some part but I’ll leave that to your speculation.

I haven’t read many fairytale retellings (I’ve watched more than I can bear ugh) so I was more curious than anything when David Meredith asked me to review this book for him. I wasn’t sure what to expect and what direction the story would go. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised and ended up enjoying the book more than I thought I would.

The first thing that stood out was the writing style. Vivid, descriptive, purposeful. It was not difficult at all to play out the scenes in my head as I read the story and that is exactly what I’m looking for in an author. The English was fitting for the “time period”, a combination of formal and slang that gave character to each of the people.

I must admit at times I was genuinely frustrated with the Queen. She was acting like a stubborn child throughout the whole ordeal though one can understand, her husband, the king, has died. The depth of her distress was captured well, a well of depression that started when she was younger as all who have read the tale of Snow White will know.

The most difficult parts of the story to read were the abuses she faced. Such profound cruelty. Such maddening selfishness. I too would imagine stuffing the old queen’s feet in hot iron against her indignant behaviour to such a sweet young princess. I’m still boiling thinking about it now.

An emotional rollercoaster I enjoyed thoroughly.

Rating: A reflective 4 out of 5


David Meredith is a writer and educator originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. He received both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tennessee as well as a Tennessee State Teaching license. He is currently a doctoral student in Educational Leadership. On and off, he spent nearly a decade, from 1999-2010 teaching English in Northern Japan, but currently lives with his wife and three children in the Nashville Area where he continues to write and teach English.

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Web Site – davidmeredithwriting.com

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