Title: Aaru | Series: The Aaru Cycle #1 | Author: David Meredith | Pub Date: 2017-7-9 | Pages: 305 | ASIN: B073V7CZ1Q | Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller | Language: English | Triggers: Paedophilia, Sexual Assault, Child Pornography | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration.
Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.
She is sixteen years old.
Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.
Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.
What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.
Aaru and I just didn’t click, but I do admire how David Meredith uses technology in it. Some of the reasons aren’t things that I can say are ‘bad’, just things that didn’t work for me. One of those was that the author chooses to write his character’s dialogue in dialect. So you can encounter pages filled with dese, dat, da instead of these, that, and the, etc. I have never been a fan of this style of writing, and every time I encountered it, it jarred me out of the story. It’s personal taste. Some readers may really enjoy it. There’s also a strong Christian element in Aaru. The religious element didn’t particularly bother me, but if you’re strongly anti-religious, it may be a turn-off.
David Meredith has a fascinating premise here in Aaru. Put simply, those who are going to die can have a scan of their conscious done and be uploaded into a virtual sort o Afterlife. I can see where many people would be attracted to the idea of never really losing their loved ones. The idea intrigued me immediately, but soon the ramifications occurred to me. I was happy to see the author willing to explore the potential problems instead of just acting like it was perfect. This is, in my opinion, the strongest point of the story. Everything about it is pretty well thought out, including how someone would access Aaru that wasn’t supposed to.
In regards to the characters in Aaru, I really liked Rose, Auset, and Kiku, but didn’t really care for the rest of them. They were understandable, but not really likable. Having grown up with an alcoholic father, Rose and Koren’s dad made me want to slap some sense into him pretty much any time he appeared on the page. His blustery, compensating-for-something attitude in general just set my teeth on edge. I felt like he never cared for Koren or Rose, but instead for what he could wring from the situation. I felt sorry for Koren, it was obvious that she was having a hard time dealing with the loss of her sister, and I wanted to protect her from the situation she found herself in. Especially considering her parents were too busy enjoying the ride to look out for their living daughter.
Then there was Magic Man. Magic Man… I hated Magic Man. I hated him so much that he almost turned me off Aaru completely. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because it says something for the author that he can create a character so repugnant I would rather not read than have to put up with him. He can make your skin crawl. However, he’s also not entirely believable. It’s not his perversions, but more the way he talks to himself. And this is a problem that is found in more than just this character. The internal (and sometimes external) dialogue that happens with the characters isn’t quite right.
There are lots of things about Magic Man and the book in general that can make a reader uncomfortable. There is paedophilia and child pornography, and two instances of sexual assault. These are only hinted at by the words “obsession and danger” in the blurb, so to say I wasn’t expecting it to get as twisted as it did is an understatement. Still, crap like that happens. People can be perverts. And young girls can easily be taken advantage of by people who should know better. David Meredith is really good at getting into that mindset of obsession and making you want to take a shower after reading some of it in Aaru.
Overal, Aaru had some really interesting aspects to it, and I think that David Meredith is a talented writer. Aaru and I just don’t work well together. I don’t think I was quite the right audience for the book.
Buy Link: Amazon