Thursday, August 3, 2017

Marcus Sakey's AFTERLIFE

By Steve Weddle

I was quite a way into Marcus Sakey's excellent new novel, AFTERLIFE, before I understood what the title was about. 

What's odd is how much I enjoyed this book despite its doing a couple things early on which I don't much care for.

First, it opens in the past, with a sort of prologue that doesn't pay off for a while. Look, I'm certainly not anyone to give Marcus Sakey writing advice. And. you know, that's a good thing for him. Mr. Sakey, you do you, man.

And, yet, I was a little scared. But, you know, I have faith in the dude.

Then not too much later, we get a guy cop and a gal cop doing sexxxy time on each other. I believe the record will show that I'm no prude. But, you know, I'm not terribly fond of reading about two people doing sex to each other. I don't much care for detailed, play-by-play fisticuffs, either. I tend to skip along to the dialog. Also, I skip over anything too technical, such as a 250-word description of a timing mechanism someone might drop into a thriller. Gracious, is there anything I don't skip over?

Well, I didn't skip AFTERLIFE, that's for sure. Because it moves. Because I care about the characters. Because I'm invested in the story, which gets hella weird.

What's nice about, I don't know, living on this planet, I guess, is that you can hit a couple spots in a novel that you don't normally enjoy or might otherwise cause you to toss the book. And, yet, you keep going because reasons. So I did. Which is great.

I mean, the story doesn't really get going until the cop is killed.

The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion—a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave.
He wakes without a scratch.
The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people—until he sees they’re carrying machetes.
Welcome to the afterlife.
Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic.
Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love…with Will Brody.
But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect—and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other

So, you know, it's kinda police procedural, thriller, love story.

It's a weird story. You'll dig it.

“Edgar finalist Sakey follows his Brilliance Trilogy with a remarkably conceived and passionately realized supernatural thriller.…Balancing lyric romance and altruistic self-sacrifice with horrifying scenes and wrenching violence, Sakey comes up with a fascinating answer to the eternal question of why humans exist.” Publishers Weekly (starred review) “Sakey follows up his incredible Brilliance Trilogy with an otherworldly stand-alone thriller about a subterranean war between gods and monsters...employ[ing] all his storytelling gifts to craft a noodle-bender of the first order. A love story enmeshed in a twisty thriller that peels back the universe to see what lies beneath.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review) AFTERLIFE is simultaneously a beautiful love story, a grim tale of apocalyptic conflict, and an opportunity for an insightful writer to ruminate on the eternal verities. Great appeal across genres.” Booklist (starred review) “Sakey has crafted an original and unpredictable tale that puts a different spin on the battle between good and evil.” —Associated Press “Sakey has crafted a compulsive thriller.…His world-building is pretty epic, and the community of characters…reminded me of Stephen King’s The Stand. It’s amazing what a skillful writer with ‘a sense of theater’ and a brilliant imagination can do.” The Minneapolis Star Tribune AFTERLIFE drags the reader along at a breathless pace.…Excellent, addictive, and eminently re-readable fiction.” —RT Book Reviews (Five Star Gold review) “Imagine the love story in the film Ghost dropped into The Matrix. Astonishing.” —Don Winslow 

Buy it here