This Is Not The End, by Chandler Baker
On Sale Date: August 8, 2017
**I received this as an e-galley from Disney-Hyperion through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.**
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5 stars)
I wonder if for the rest of my life, I’ll be haunted by beautiful days.
On one cloudless, radiant summer afternoon, Lake Devereaux lost everything. The car crash claimed the lives of her best friend and boyfriend, the people who had become her family after her own fell apart. But she doesn’t have to lose them both.
The development of resurrection technology has changed the world. Under the new laws regulating the process, each person gets one resurrection to be used or forfeited on their eighteenth birthday. Mere weeks away from turning eighteen, Lake faces an impossible choice.
Envisioning life without one of the people she loves most is shattering enough, but Lake carries an additional burden: years ago, under family pressure, Lake secretly—and illegally—promised her resurrection to someone who isn’t even dead yet.
The search for answers about her future draws Lake more deeply into the secrets of her past until she begins to question everything about those closest to her. Betrayals and hurts both new and old threaten to eclipse the memories she once cherished.
Then Lake meets a boy unlike anyone she’s encountered before, who unflinchingly embraces the darkest parts of her life . . . and who believes that all resurrections are wrong.
Which path is the right one? And how can Lake start to heal when she can’t move on?
When I first started reading the synopsis for this book, I immediately went “Oh no not another sob story” but that quickly turned into an “Oh sh*t a sob story with a twist!” So I immediately knew I had to read it, of course. This book is about death, the possibility of life again after, and the difficult choices one must make when it comes to those you love. It is both beautifully written and captivating, and really makes the reader think about what it would be like to have a second chance at life.
The story is quick to pull you in, with an excellent narrative voice in the character, Lake Devereaux. It moves quickly and at a decent pace, jumping back and forth between Lake’s past with her best friends and her present without them. The writing is excellent – Baker has a way of making you feel easily connected to the characters and the story, with just little nuances here and there that really bring to life what is happening on the page. I did have a moment of revelation and figured out the plot twist about halfway through the book when a comment made everything click, but it didn’t ruin it for me, luckily enough.
This novel is truly about the characters and how the effect of resurrections changes them and their relationships with one another. Although I never fully felt the connection between Lake, Penny and Will as deeply as she seemed to, I quickly discovered that the real story was about her relationship with her brother, Matt, who is paralyzed and seems to hate her. These two show the most character growth and depth over the course of the novel and make the story what it is. And while Lake and her brother feel the most fully fleshed out characters, with Ringo coming in as a close second, I felt that there could have been more depth shown for Lake’s best friend and boyfriend, as well as her parents. The relationships Lake has with Penny and Will didn’t seem to go much further than the surface in terms of what was written, and while there was a lot said about each of their characteristics, I felt like they only really got defined by one part of their lives and how they made Lake feel. I also felt that Lake’s relationship with her parents never really had any closure in the book, or any semblance of starting on the path towards healing, because while they claimed they ostracized her because it was Matt’s wishes, it did not make it right and they never addressed that or started on any semblance of a path towards healing.
I would like to add that, in a scene where Lake visits Penny’s parents for the shiva for Penny, they tried to bribe her with money to choose Penny to resurrect. To me this seemed to play off of the stereotype of Jewish people being rich and greedy, which can be hurtful to some readers. It’s not painfully rude, but it is a stereotype that is often seen and used when writers try to add in a Jewish character. And yes, some Jews are rich, but some are also poor and would be horrified at the idea of bribing someone to choose their child to resurrect over another families’. (Not to mention the whole ethics and religious position on resurrections but while that is mentioned by several characters in it who have different beliefs about resurrections, the focus of the story is on Lake’s relationship with people in her life).
Overall, though, this was a very intriguing and well-written book, that fully dived into this world where people can live again and how that changes them and those around them. It has great writing, great characters, an excellent storyline, and wonderful relationships. Aside from the multiple Beatles’ references I didn’t always understand (sue me, I’m not a fan), it had meaningful messages and just really made me think about family and life.
ARC August | Books Completed Toward Goal: 1/12