Book Review for Aaru by David Meredith

4 Stars (4 / 5)

“…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.

What an interesting idea for a story! What would you do if you could see your family members again after they died? Aaru explores all of the emotions of losing a loved one, and then the surprise of getting them back…in a way. It was a little bit of a slow burn for me, with lots of descriptions and info dumps, but if you stick with it to the end you can see well written characters and a pretty good plot that was unexpected in nature and execution.

When Rose dies of cancer her younger sister is emotionally devastated. Unable to understand how her parents could be so accepting of something so final, she draws into her shell almost completely. That is when a representative from a company called Elysian contacts her and reveals to her and her parents that an experimental procedure that they conducted on her sister while she was till alive was successful. Rose is ALIVE.

She isn’t alive in the sense that you are I are. No this company has figured out how to capture peoples consciences and place them into a computer program. When Koren sees Rose for the first time she is obviously skeptical about it, but soon she sees that it really is her sister Rose, in some sense or another.

The company that developed the product has decided to use Rose’s family as a spokesperson for their product, so as the story inside the computer program progresses for Rose, the story progresses out in real time for Koren.

There is a lot of world-building happening in this novel, which made it a little bit of a slow-burner for me. Good, just a little slow. The author goes through many descriptions the occur within the computer program, called Aaru, just like the title. The residents can make anything they want, beautiful houses, rivers, fountains, items for inside their houses, you name it. They can fly up to a window and visit with their living family members too, on a computer screen, inside their own homes. These parts were colorful and fun to read, but one could easily get lost in the details if you weren’t paying attention.

I was more than a little perturbed by the lack of attention from the parents in this book. I can understand that they were distraught about losing their child, but honestly they didn’t seem that involved in what Elysian was doing to their daughter in the days leading up to her death. We didn’t really know her before, so how do we know that the “real” her was completely downloaded from her brain? It’s more than a little hard to wrap your brain around the ideas at times, but the book presents it in a way that is interesting and readable.

There are many elements to this novel, many working pieces and I give the author mad props for stringing it together in such a way that made for such fascinating read, something to think about even after its covers are closed. I thought that this was a good story, definitely worth the read, even if it was a little wordy. The story that the author has to tell is extremely intriguing and macabre but grabbing and engrossing once it gets rolling.

You can read Aaru for FREE on KU or purchase it here on Amazon >>

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Sara is a book hobbit that lives in a house of all boys, located in the promised land. Books stack the walls to the ceiling in some places, and she just keeps adding more. She was raised on top of a mountain that is locked in the dead of winter ten months of the year. She wears a size eleven shoe and enjoys her chicken cooked on the BBQ grill. In addition to reading she enjoys pinning crafts on Pinterest that she will never make and watching movies about people with sad lives or documentaries about serial killers.

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