Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Memory of After

Felicia Ward died in a car accident and now resides in Level 2, a place where the dead can access their own memories and those shared by others in machines and servers. The vast majority of the residents use these machines and ability to share memories to relive nice, pleasant memories instead of hard ones that would allow them to examine their lives. Felicia is pretty happy with this existence until a girl she's close to unexpectedly relives her death and gets hurt by the malfunctioning machine. Felicia is whisked away in the madness by Julian, someone she would rather not see from her life on Earth. Apparently, she can help with this rude faction of angels called Morati who want to harvest the humans for their energy. Can Felicia help them out and save the humans?

The Memory of After is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed a lot of the concepts: the sharing of memories, the stages of the afterlife, and the faction of selfish angels that are jealous that humans can get to the true afterlife called the Morati. I also liked that people can create things just by thinking about them. Thought is very powerful in this world. If you think you will die or be hurt, you will be even though you are dead. If you think you will be fine, you will be. It seems simple, but it's hard to undo years of conditioning from living on earth. Felicia is an ok character. I like that she is fiercely loyal and unwilling to give up on her friends if there is any possibility that there is hope. Lenore Appelhans' prose is engaging and drew me into the story.

Unfortunately, the book frustrated me in a variety of ways. The afterlife world is based around an odd mix of Christian and Greek mythology. It didn't mesh well with me that angels are totally there as well as the different rivers of the Underworld. The two are like oil and water for me. Having Greek mythological elements without also having anything about the gods was annoying and distracting. I didn't expect it to be quite so religion based even though it's about the afterlife. I don't tend to gravitate towards books like that and it was disappointing to have such an emphasis on it. On Earth, Felicia and her boyfriend Neil are quite religious. I do like that she made her own choices and didn't let him make them for her. For instance, when the church wanted to shame her into signing a purity pledge and she refused even though Neil had signed it. However, she made some mistakes in her past like dating a guy when her best friend was also dating him and running away when she found that same friend murdered. She acted like she literally killed someone and that she was the most morally degenerate person who ever lived. This is one aspect of religion I really hate. Many of them emphasize self loathing and self flagellation after transgressions. The religion and mythos of the world didn't seem to go together and it bothered me.

Some of the the characters were just awful. Julian was a huge jerk even though he has some sort of magnetic connection to Felicia for no reason at all. The freedom fighters in Level 2 didn't care about civilian casualties or using people for their own ends. The Morati were basically a ripped off version of the machines from the Matrix except being addition jealous of humans and bitter that they can't go to the true afterlife. Neil is only slightly better than Julian. His sanctimoniousness makes him insufferable and instead of just refusing when she attempts to initiate any sort of sexual activity, he shames her because of his religion. What a nice boyfriend. Even her best friend Autumn just seemed like her life's work was to be better than Felicia and put her down in passive aggressive ways. There were very few people to root for or even like despite emphasizing morals and religion.

The Memory of After doesn't deliver what I expected. Instead of an interesting afterlife story, we get a weirdly preachy book that fuses Christian and Greek mythology nonsensically with mostly awful characters that I cared nothing about. The only saving grace was the writing I don't really want to read the sequel, but unfortunately I already committed to reviewing it.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

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