E-ARC, 400 Pages
By: T.J. Klune
“I’m dead,” he said. “There’s no going back from that. A river only moves in one direction.”
Last year I read The House in the Cerulean Sea, fell in love with it and it even was among my top 3 years of the year. I haven’t read any of Klune’s book before that but I became an instant fan of his writing and this book probably became my most anticipated book of the year! I know many have similar feelings to me and are dying to read this one (pun intended). I was super excited when I was approved for an E-ARC of this one on Edelweiss so thanks a lot for making this come true!
I am going to give you a quick idea about the book and what is it about but I recommend not reading the synopsis because I felt it gave more than necessary and went into “Spoilery territory”. The book follows Wallace Price who is alive at first and is like the manager of a big law company. Then he is dead and the story follows his ghost in what could be described as the last station before the afterlife. He meets Hugo the ferryman who is responsible for helping these souls cross and the reaper Mei and then we have Nelson and Apollo who are souls that haven’t crossed yet.
Is it as good as The House in the Cerulean Sea? I think I enjoyed THITCS more but I enjoyed this one very much too. I think both have this “Pixar movie” quality and this one is reminiscent of the animation movie “Soul” which I loved too. While the THITCS had a kind of optimistic and happy vibes, this was a bit toward the other spectrum discussing topics such as Death, suicide, depression and mental illness. For that specific reason there is a TW at the beginning of the book so be careful if these are things you don’t wanna read but I can assure you that the execution is exquisite!
Wallace whispered, “It’s easy to let yourself spiral and fall.”
“It is,” Nelson agreed. “But it’s what you do to pull yourself out of it that matters most.”
The writing is very good, simplistic and easy to follow. I think it is a book for everyone such as THITCS was and the found family trope which is Klune’s specialty is found in this one too. And not to sound too grim, the heavy topics are balanced with humor and fun moments with weird characters and laugh out loud moments. Desdemona and all the secondary characters plays a huge role in this!
The characters are great and very memorable. There is a queer romantic relationship in the book which was also a central thing in THITCS. I also know that Klune lost his husband to Cancer so he is also writing from experience and things that he went through so I do respect that.
The world-building is good, as I said above, I love that everything was clear and easy to follow which makes it easy to read. I think some of the foreshadowing made things obvious for me but it was good anyway. I think I have mixed feelings about the ending and I stand somewhere between I am satisfied but the ending defeats the purpose of the book.
“Because you’re you, and that’s who you’re supposed to be.”
Summary: An overall great book with a writing that mixes humor with heavy topics in the perfect balance. The characters are very unique and memorable. The world-building and plot are easy to follow. I don’t have much to criticize about this one.
P.S: I found a medical error in the book and contacted the author. He was very nice and thanked me and he told me they will check it out again and that he appreciates the email. I can’t wait to see what happens with that paragraph!