Aaru (The Aaru Cycle Book 1),
by David Meredith
Publication: July 9, 2017
About the book:
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 spokesmodel.
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.
Let me begin with this absolutely breathtaking cover! The beautiful young lady and the expression on her face is startlingly beautiful, sad, and worrisome all at once – but incredible.
Aaru is a novel about hope where people least expect it – life after death. Forget what we’ve learned in church growing up because this is a new technology that maps and copies the brain, allowing an “upload” of the person to a cyber world called Aaru. No more pain, sickness, or misery, but a somewhat eternal life, albeit in cyberspace.
At the age of 16, Rose is dying of leukemia when she is approached by her father and a man in a white lab coat, asking her if she wants to live forever. All she has to do is think positive thoughts and allow them to hook her up to various cords, etc to scan her brain. Rose’s younger sister visits her and she is motivated to give it a try, just in case she could be well again for her sister. A few weeks later, Elysian Industries that developed this technology, has something amazing to show to Koren and her parents. Then in the blink of an eye, young Koren is the spokes-model for Elysian Industries promoting their innovative technology connecting loved ones with those that have passed on.
I would estimate that the first 1/4 or maybe 1/3 of this novel seemed very creative and promising. With the exception of that horribly boring Johnny Depp movie years ago (can’t remember the name), I liked the creative subject matter and the wonder of the author’s imagination. If your loved ones could be sent to a heaven-like place and you could keep in touch with them, then what’s the problem?
My main issue with this novel was the storyline of Koren becoming a spokesperson for Elysian Industries, telling the world about how they brought her sister back to her, etc. First of all, her loser parents sold her out so Dad could sit around and his recliner and get drunk and Mom could do nothing except praise Jesus. Second, her parents allowed Elysian and various others to dress this 13-year-old as she was a 20-year-old prostitute, and then parade her from talk show to talk show. Oh, and the added bonus, talk show hosts got to make disgusting sexual remarks to her despite her age. Even better was the appeal to the stalkers of the world.
So, part of me would like to think that David Meredith was making fun of reality t.v. and parents that will sell out their children regardless of the implications. Furthermore, I hope he was balking at self-serving CEO’s in the world that will exploit anyone to make a buck. But, unfortunately, I’m not sure that was his point.
One message that I feel certain that I got pertains to technology and our cyber world. Crap can always go wrong, no matter how certain we are. People rely so much on technology now and it’s sad when they are shocked when things crash or get hacked.
Again, I applaud David Meredith’s creativity with Aaru and I feel like it had a ton of potential in the beginning. But it just became too complicated and too weird as the pages turned. I wasn’t a huge fan of this, but this also isn’t my preferred genre.
*Thanks to David Meredith for providing this novel in exchange for an honest review.