Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. I was thrilled to receive a copy of this book through Netgalley once I read my friend Olga Miret’s review about it, Ending Forever by Nicholas Conley. It’s not too far out of my genre range, considering it’s a fictional story that deals with the afterlife – although in sort of a science fiction sort of way. I typically have been reading nonfiction books on the subject. And since this story has so many elements to it and deals with my top favorite subjects – compassion, humanity, love and grief, and so much more, I had to give it a read, and I loved it. The author himself in his acknowledgments states his book is, “strange, surreal fiction that doesn’t really fit into any specific genre box”.
Axel Rivers can’t get his head above water. Throughout his life, he’s worn many hats — orphan, musician, veteran, husband, father—but a year ago, a horrific event he now calls The Bad Day tore down everything he’d built. Grief-stricken, unemployed, and drowning in debt, Axel needs cash, however he can find it.
Enter Kindred Eternal Solutions. Founded by the world’s six wealthiest trillionaires and billionaires, Kindred promises to create eternal life through mastering the science of human resurrection. With the technology still being developed, Kindred seeks paid volunteers to undergo tests that will kill and resurrect their body—again and again—in exchange for a check.
Axel signs up willingly, but when he undergoes the procedure—and comes back, over and over—what will he find on the other side of death?
My 5 Star Review:
Love the dedication in front of the book: “Dedicated to everyone I have ever lost. Every sunset precedes a sunrise, and what the dead leave behind shapes the future. May the memory of you-each of you- be a blessing.”
Axel Rivers has had a lot of bad things happening in his life, mostly, what he refers to as ‘That bad day’. Down on his luck and funds, and carrying deep sorrow in his heart, he decides to sign up for the Kindred Eternal Solutions experimental program, run by the wealthiest of the elite. Those who’ve suffered hardship and in need of money are the targeted to sign up and receive a big check for taking part in this trial program, along with some of the curious who want to learn what does happen on the other side. Besides the big paycheck for signing up for this series of deaths and resurrections, Axel hopes to be able to see that infamous light so talked about on the other side as well as the privilege to meet up with his dearly missed lost loved ones.
These volunteers are put to a death sleep in a chamber and monitored through their temporary death state by doctors and scientists, and are promised to be brought back to life within hours, and must complete the death/resurrection process daily, six times in a row. The program is researching how to keep people alive through eternity, mainly for the purpose of the rich elite who run the program, trying to discover a way to cheat death for themselves.
At first Axel is very apprehensive but the thought of his overwhelming debt is what keeps him in the program. After his first session he feels disillusioned – he saw no light, no lost loved ones, and felt doom from meeting ‘the stranger’. He felt more depressed after the session, feeling as though he had a visitation from a dead family member later that day after first session. He thought it felt so real, not as though it were a spirit. His second session, he felt a breakthrough, met some of his lost loved ones, and saw the ‘Deathweavers’, – the ones in the next realm who make decision about when those on earth’s time is up.
Axel meets Brooklyn, a fellow partipant, single mother who has suffered many hardships in her own life, and they become friends and go out for drinks after day two of the experiment. On day three, Axel is late for that third session and is booted from the program. He decides to wait for Brooklyn to finish, when he discovers, she never showed up to that session. Axel learns from her sister that a tragedy has taken place and Brooklyn’s daughter Gwen is in intensive care dying from it. Axel’s new awakenings through the first two sessions drive him to approach the scientist at her home where he begs her to put him under one more time because he is sure he can bargain with the ‘Deathweavers’ and plead for Gwen’s life, and for her own scientific knowledge purposes, Dr. Carpenter agrees.
In Axel’s last time returning to death and resurrection, he learns a lot about himself and conquers boundaries that he learned he’d created around himself. He manages to get the attention of the Deathweavers and like everything else in life, they would only agree to let Gwen live if Axel gave up something precious of himself.
This book is about the fragility of life, overcoming one’s own tribulations and grief and gaining the selflessness to help another human being. Despite the paranormal-ish basis of the story, the strength of love and compassion shine through people when they are forced to surrender their own hurt and wounds to help the worse off.
The last few chapters were so captivating and beautiful, it was difficult to read without tears.