Thursday, 8 May 2014

Book Review: Reviver by Seth Patrick

Pros: interesting characters, carefully realized reviver process and reactions to it

Pros/con: lots of flashbacks and info dumps

Cons: little narrative tension

Twelve years ago Daniel Harker broke the story on revivers, people who could revive the dead and let them physically speak.  Now the process is considered routine for forensic work and many people have insurance offering them the chance to say a final good-bye.  

Jonah Miller has been a reviver since the accident that took his Mom’s life when he was 14.  With higher abilities than many of his colleagues, he works for a forensic office and is given tough cases.  At the end of a routine revival, something - unexpected - happens.  For a few moments the subject is possessed by a malevolent force.  Told the incident was a hallucination, more and more things happen to convince Jonah that maybe overwork wasn’t the cause.

This is a slow-moving but interesting story.  The author gives you a good grounding of how revival works and how the revelation that there’s something after this life affected the world, from the protesting afterlifers to insurance brokers arranging for final meetings.

I personally found the numerous info dumps and flashbacks interesting, because they offered firm grounding in the world and the protagonists.  For the sake of variety, it might have been nice to learn some of this information more organically, via conversations, etc. 

The characters were very interesting.  Jonah’s the protagonist, whose sense of morality is strong even as his mind is taken over by remnants of his recent revivals.  Then there’s Noah, a revival technician who keeps Jonah company and Annabel Harper, a journalist like her father, who’s investigating a crime and gets Jonah’s help.

Because the story is so slow moving, there’s little narrative tension.  A few scenes were creepy but I never really felt Jonah was in danger of insanity, though I did fear for his life towards the end of the book, but not on a level that I’d expected to.

It’s an interesting story with good world-building, smart characters, some interesting speculative elements and a lot of mystery.

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