Wow! What a brilliant, thrilling and thought-provoking book. Aaru, by David Meredith, is a technological fantasy thriller about life after death.
16-year-old Rose Johnson is in hospital dying of leukaemia. She has been undergoing treatment for 4 years and nothing is helping, she is getting weaker by the day and her body is wasting away. When a mysterious man turns up at the hospital offering a new treatment with no pain Rose decides to accept his offer for the sake of her younger sister Koren, who is 13 years old.
This new treatment involves taking brain scans and thinking “happy thoughts”. Needless to say, Rose dies not long after.
On her death, Rose is updated to Elysian Industries mainframe computer, called Aaru, which is a new digital world where you can live forever in cyberspace. Once uploaded, family and friends can then interact with you via computer, ensuring that they effectively never lose a loved one.
Aaru itself is a new world, a virtual paradise, where inhabitants can be whatever they want to be and create whatever they desire as long as it won’t harm other residents.
Once the distraught Koren is introduced to the digital Rose and realises that her sister lives on she becomes the face of Aaru to promote the new service. This soon brings Koren unwanted and dangerous attention.
Overall, I found Aaru to be an excellent read. It is a story of family bonds, death, grief, technology, immortality, obsession, amazement and wonder, celebrity and religion.
While Rose, Koren and their parents are struggling to deal with their new lives, not everyone agrees with the new technology; some want it banned, while a stalker known as Magic Man wants to use for his own purposes.
Aaru is brilliantly written and expertly brought to life on the page. While the concepts of life after death in a computer world, the ups and downs of celebrity and coping with death were great, Magic Man’s obsession with a 13-year-old girl was a bit creepy but worked well within the story.
Character development was great, not only with the central characters of Rose and Koren but with the board members of Elysian and the Lords and Ladies of Aaru. All were unique and expertly built up throughout the story.
While the story is about death, grief and life after death, it does also examine the trappings of celebrity, data security and living with technology in the digital age, as well as stalking and obsession.
Having never read a book of this type before, before reading I was unsure whether I would enjoy it or not. I can honesty say that I’m glad I read it. It was refreshing, unique and thrilling and definitely a must read!
“…Death and the stillness of death are the only things certain and common to all in this future…” – Friedrich Nietzsche
RRP: £7.99 (paperback) / Free on Kindle Unlimited
Available to buy from Amazon here.