September 13, 2011

Sebastian and the Afterlife by William J. Barry

read an excerpt here
Series: Sebastian and the Afterlife 1
Format: ARC (from the publisher)
Release Date: February 23, 2011
Purchase Link: Amazon

Death is a debt we must all pay - Euripides

Sebastian, an average seventeen-year-old boy, has just paid this debt.  He awakes in a surreal world somewhere between mortal life and the afterlife, where the Grim Reaper rules and his loyal agents maintain the law.  But not all is peaceful in this mystical realm.  Axis Red and his soul pirates threaten the future of all who dwell there.

Sebastian soon finds himself at Sapentia, a high school for the departed. There he makes new friends but longs for his lost love, Sarah, who is still alive in the mortal world. Some things are forbidden; some lines cannot be crossed. What will Sebastian risk to be close to Sarah again?

This book is a light read and I would classify this as juvenile reading than YA fiction. Although Sebastian is seventeen, the story is easing him into his death and preparing himself for the next step, which is going into the light, crossing the Archway to the Afterlife.

The synopsis hints at some awesome adventure with Grip Reaper and agents was a bit over selling the story. Yes the Grim Reaper and his agents are fighting off pirates set to steal souls for their energies but it was more of a side story. Even the title is not accurate because Sebsatian didn't reach the Afterlife rather he stayed in the in-between. I guess if you take it in the literal sense, this is a story of Sebastian after life as in after living.

I wish Barry went deeper with the story instead of just skimming the surface. I didn't really feel Sebastian's longing for the family and the love he left behind even the need to come back to give Sarah one last kiss thinking that after the smooch he can peacefully crossover to the other side. It felt trivial, lacking the drama of mourning and losing something that one can never get back. 

I like Grim Reaper and his agents because it reminds me of the Bond franchise and Alexander, one of the agents, is such a sexy, masculine name. Axis Red and his pirates sounds so sinister, I love the idea that these two factions are fighting over these souls, one to protect, the other to harvest. But I would've liked it better if a dash of espionage and mystery was used to the hilt to build up this part of the story. I like to be kept speculating where and/or who the threat is coming from, keeping me on the edge and endlessly guessing who the antagonist is. The confrontation between Reaper and Red was predictable.

BUT I'm an adult reading Juvenile fiction. This is a perfect book to give or read with/to someone between the ages 6-12 who are either into ghost stories or just recently lost someone close to them. It's a good story to ease a worried young heart who wonders what becomes of the soul of someone who passed away. I think kids and those still young at heart will surely enjoy this story.

Or if you are afraid of Death fear not because something amazing awaits you on the other side.

I hope :)

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