AUTHOR: Terri Bruce
SERIES: Afterlife (#1)
PUBLISHER: Mictlan Press
GENRE: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mystery
RATING: 3.5/5 Stars
Why let a little thing like dying get in the way of a good time?
Thirty-six-year-old Irene Dunphy didn't plan on dying any time soon, but that’s exactly what happens when she makes the mistake of getting behind the wheel after a night bar-hopping with friends. She finds herself stranded on Earth as a ghost, where the food has no taste, the alcohol doesn't get you drunk, and the sex...well, let’s just say “don’t bother.” To make matters worse, the only person who can see her—courtesy of a book he found in his school library—is a fourteen-year-old boy genius obsessed with the afterlife.
Unfortunately, what waits in the Great Beyond isn't much better. Stuck between the boring life of a ghost in this world and the terrifying prospect of three-headed hell hounds, final judgment, and eternal torment in the next, Irene sets out to find a third option—preferably one that involves not being dead anymore. Can she wipe the slate clean and get a second chance before it’s too late?
What I Liked:
- Terri Bruce had some pretty clever and original ideas on the afterlife and what it may contain. Some of the cleverest came from her ideas of why we do strange things that I actually do quite a lot. Have you ever gone into a fairly empty car park, looked at a perfectly reasonable space and then not parked in it for no apparent reason? Well according to Bruce, that space might not be as empty as you originally thought. I really enjoyed the originality of the ideas on the afterlife, and it was clear that Bruce had really done a hefty amount of research on the subject!
- An easy to understand, well-written plot-line. Sometimes I find that when creating an entirely new concept, authors can over-complicate things and the writing can suffer for it. If an author gets caught up in their writing it becomes more like a stream of consciousness to read rather than a well penned story. Bruce did manage to avoid that and her writing style flowed really well, so it was very easy to follow.
- The characters were diverse. There are quite a few characters to meet in this one and each of them is interesting with a lot of personality. From the main characters I liked Jonah, and actually I really liked Ernest too! A lot of the side characters too I found intriguing and it was interesting to meet such an eclectic bunch, mostly from different time periods and each with a story to tell.
What I Disliked:
- I did have some problems with the characterisation in this book too. I'll start with Irene. I found her a pretty irritating, and argumentative character to read and didn't really like her constant mood swings. This made it pretty hard to be sympathetic towards her situation. I did warm up to her as the book went on, particularly towards the end of the story. As for the other characters, as intriguing as they were I felt like I never really got to know them and therefore didn't get too attached to them. I mentioned that I liked Ernest, but even he didn't really give a huge amount away.
- It somehow felt repetitive in places. Despite an interesting concept, I felt that Irene's personal journey became a bit too predictable. The constant bickering with Jonah, eventually leading up to numerous arguments that would end with one or the other going off to sulk before returning to repeat the process. It made the rest of the story feel a bit underdeveloped and I could have done with a few more twists and turns in the plot-line. I never felt completely hooked on the book while I read it.
- I am left with so many unanswered questions. What is going to happen to Jonah now? What was Samyel looking for and what were his intentions? What was the deal with the 'Uglies'? Will we ever see Ernest again? There is a sequel to the book that I will be reading and perhaps these questions will be answered. I certainly hope so because I don't like loose ends that aren't tied up properly.
I do have very mixed thoughts on this book, though overall it was an enjoyable read. I just wish there had been less sulking and moodiness, and a little more development for some of the other characters as well! Even Jonah, another main character, had an air of mystery concerning his family and 'real world' life. The focus was definitely on Irene who in my opinion was not all that likeable. The concept was really intriguing though and I feel like it could be redeemed in the next book providing that Irene continues to grow in my opinion and some of the loose ends are tied up.