Here Lies Death

Here Lies Death - Harlan Vaughn (Book provided by the author through Read It & Reap #100 in the Shut Up And Read group, in exchange for an honest review.)

I rated this book 3 stars, because I'm not exactly sure what to make of it, so I went for the middle ground.

It was a puzzling read, first for the questions and hypotheses it raised about human nature and how people may react if death didn't exist anymore, if everyone was eternally stuck in the same body, a body that would regenerate almost instantly if hurt or killed. This theme was intriguing, and as I suspected (and probably would've written myself if I had been the author of such a story), the 'answers' weren't pretty—while reading, I would tell myself "actually, I'm not surprised". Some characters (Sean, Kes...) were quite the positive ones about it, enjoying the 'gift' as it was given to them; for others, it triggered terrible feelings, causing them to spiral downwards into darkness they might never have known nor suspected had they been able to go on just as they had always believed they would. In that, this novel was pretty interesting.

It was also a page-turner for me, in quite an odd way... Much like a train wreck in the making, in fact: somehow you feel that something's horribly wrong, yet you can't help but go on, because you have to see it brought to an end, no matter what kind. Let's say it prompts you to wonder about many things, about your own reactions if you were in such situations as presented in the book, about whether you'd enjoy such eternal life or not. Because it's probably easier to say "yes, I'd enjoy it" if you were stuck in your prime... but what if you were stuck eternally in the body of a kid, because you were only 6 when it happened, and then your mind would grow old in a clearly inadequate body? Or what about being 80 and wishing it had happened sooner, when you were still young and beautiful? I don't think giving a definite answer is so evident.

That said, while the story was fascinating, albeit not the kind of read I'd recommend if you're depressed yourself, I wasn't so thrilled about the writing itself, which I found often too cold, too clinical. I couldn't exactly relate with the characters, whose actions and emotions were relayed rather than shown. And thus I couldn't really empathize either.

Also, we're provided no clear explanation about why the Restoration occurred. In a way, I'd like to say that this is not what's important about the story, that what matters is how the whole concept of immortality is explored; nonetheless, I'd still have wanted to know, especially given how it all concludes.