[I received a copy of this novel through NetGalley.]
OK, I admit I don't really know what to write in this review, which seldom happens. It wasn't a bad story—and its theme is fairly interesting (legalised euthanasia, and potential risks and abuse that may be related to it vs. what it accomplishes for people who suffer). But I never really feel connected to the characters, and thus never really cared about them.
I can feel somewhat close to the debate about euthanasia. I'm not sure if it's something I'd choose for myself, however with my phobia of cancer, I really "get" the wish to go while you can still decide for yourself, because I see absolutely no point in "living longer" if this "life" is spent pissing myself in a hospital bed and begging for morphine or not being aware anymore of what's around me. At this point, that's not even surviving anymore, so... I don't know. Somehow I really hope I'll never have to find out for myself. That's the kind of knowledge I can blissfully remain ignorant of.
Evan's dilemmas, his trouble adjusting to what his job demanded of him and what, deep inside, he wanted/needed to give, were interesting as well. There are a lot of grey areas here, and I'd often wonder at all the legal parts in this legalised assisted death in the novel: on the one hand, the law has to prevent abuse, otherwise it's easy to veer into murder; on the other, what do you do when a patient with degenerative disease has expressed until the end their wish to die, but their disease prevent them from drinking their glass of Nembutal? Not helping means denying their wishes; but actually helping them drink may be construed as "pushy" and "choosing for them". So, so very grey.
Also, props for including a relationship that is not the cookie-cutter traditional heterosexual one, AND including it in a natural way, as something that simply "is", and not some matter for moral discussion or judgment or whatever. You don't see that too often to my liking in books and movies. Granted, I wished Evan had been more involved in it, because Lon and Simon were lovely and supportive people, and I felt they were always left on the sideline; but that has nothing to do with gender.
On the other hand, some things were not fleshed out enough. Evan's relationship with his boss Nettie, for starters—I was sure there was matter for discussion here, a basis for more conflict and/or, on the contrary, more relating, yet it was never really accomplished. Same with Evan's decision to keep mum about his job when it came to some of (close) characters, or Jasper's Path, which came a bit out of nowhere?
I didn't really get either the very, very quick decline in Viv. Sure, it was dramatic, however the scientist in me would've liked to see more explanations about her going from Parkinson's to almost-miraculous recovery to going downhill in a matter of 4-5 days. I totally get the whole tragedy in her condition—a fiercely independent woman who finds herself becoming dependent and is inwardly scared of it—but this decline felt like a plot device and not like an exactly natural evolution of said plot, if that makes sense.
Conclusion: interesting, but I never felt involved.