Author: David Meredith
Genre: YA fantasy / sci-fi
Status: Book 1 of Aaru series
“…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.
Note: I received an eARC from the author in return for a review. This does not, in any way, affect my review.
I’ve read one other book by the author and this was very different from that. And I’m not a fan of this book.
The book begins with Rose in the last stage of cancer, almost about to die. She’s lost hope in any new treatments and her dad brings in another person to help her. Koren, her sister, requests her to try one last time and Rose agrees.
But she ends up dying.
A little later, the man comes back and shows them how they have managed to save a copy of Rose onto a super computer. Into a virtual world called Aaru. They scanned her mind and managed to capture her essence. Koren and her family are allowed to talk to her, and then Koren is roped in to be the face of the company. To be their voice and share her story to the masses.
But things go wrong, as they always do, and there are many turns caused by this.
What I found interesting:
- The concept of “saving” a person. In the book we see tons of people being scanned and their selves being uploaded onto a super computer with a LOT of memory space. We even got Rose’s POV when she was IN Aaru, after dying. And it was interesting to read about such a possibility, of her mind saved on the computer having her own will.
- The mixed reactions to Aaru. We saw how other people either loved or hated Aaru for what it promises, and all declarations of it being fake. We could clearly see that it’s not perfect and how wrong things could go.
What I didn’t like:
- The writing style. I simply could NOT get into the book. I didn’t like both Rose and Koren’s voices. If you asked me, I probably wouldn’t be able to choose a “better” one as I don’t like both equally.
- Some elements of Aaru. Rose could THINK and FEEL in Aaru. Where she is nothing but a bunch of data. She also had romantic feelings for another guy there. Once she also somehow got out of Aaru and changed something in another PC with her WILL? Um, how? By that point there I was simply not into the whole concept.
- There wasn’t a proper plot? It wasn’t completely about Rose or Koren or Aaru. About halfway through we’re taken into the head of a random creepy guy and I just STOPPED reading there for a couple days. And by the end, he had taken over the plot?
TRIGGER WARNINGS: stalker, sexual assault, child pornography, rape, pedophilia
- I spent most of the book simply feeling sorry for Koren. She loses her sister then is thrown into the spotlight and is sexualised. She also has to deal with trickery and media expose things… I felt really sorry. And that’s not a main character I want.
- I didn’t get Rose’s personality AT ALL. At first she was the dying girl. Then she’s the giddy happy girl in Aaru trying out everything possible in that world. But for all we talk about how the concept of Aaru is literally to capture her, I did not get a feel for her. I could, at least, picture Koren. Rose was just… there. To serve a purpose. She didn’t make that much of an impact except when related to Koren.
- I found it VERY HARD to read from Magic Man’s POV. I could have gone without that. I understand how it contributes to the story, but his mind was very repulsive and I could not be happier to be done with the book. I hated it.
- The parents were dummies. Koren, a TEENAGER, was being sexualised and accused of a number of things because of being thrown into the spotlight. And all her parents did was say “this is all part of the game” and drink. I really didn’t like the parents. After reading about how concerned they were with Rose when she was sick, being heartbroken etc, this dis-concern because of the money and fame made me mad.
It’s an interesting idea but the storyline created simply turned me off. I took a long time to finish this book, simply because I couldn’t get into it and later because I didn’t like the way things were going. I was really glad when I got to then that I finished it, but I wasn’t glad that Magic Man had taken over the plot.
I wouldn’t recommend it. There are a lot of five stars on Goodreads, though, so it might just be that it’s not of my taste.