Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Review of BEYOND (Afterlife #1) by Willow Rose - Reviewed by Sarah Norfolk

Author: Willow Rose
Publication Date: September 9th 2011
Source: e-copy provided by author for review purposes

"Meghan is 16 when she dies. 

She wakes up on a flying steamboat on her way to a school run by Angels in a white marble castle. On the boat she meets Mick who has been dead for more than a hundred years but still looks like a teenager. He helps her past the difficult beginning at the new school in a new world. One day some of Meghan's roommates find a mirror in the cellar of the school and they persuade her to go through it with them - well knowing it is strictly against the rules of the school. Meghan ends up back on earth where she meets Jason. But Jason is in danger and Meghan know something important. Something that is a matter of life and death. Soon she is forced to choose between the two worlds. The one she belongs to now and the one she left."

Beyond is the first novel in Willow Rose's Afterlife series

*I Hereby Award This Book 5 Wings!*

"As I was just telling the class, I am going to teach you the History of the Afterlife. I will not only fill you in on the history of this Academy, but also the history of the Spiritual Realm. As you know, you have entered the spirit world, the world of Ru'ach. This world is filled with possibilities, and you will be amazed at what you are capable of doing.
This is your first full day in the Afterlife and there is a lot you don't know. But don't worry; by the time you graduate from this place, you will know all you need to know"
She looked at the class and turned to the blackboard behind her. It was an old-fashioned chalkboard. I noticed she had a feather pen with a silver inkwell on her desk. It occurred to me how old everything seemed to be, like nothing had happened here for hundreds of years.
"As you know by now you have all lost your physical body, but you still exist as a spirit," Mrs Higgins continued. "Not many people on earth are aware that they have a spirit that will still exist even when their physical body dies. There are several academies like this in the
Afterworld, about four hundred or so, that take care of the spirits and prepare them for the Afterlife. Just before a spirit is born into a body it is appointed to an academy and it follows you through your earthly life and helps you get to the right place once your earthly body is dead."
That explained a lot to me, like what I saw in those pictures. They had captured these people's deaths and just repeated it again and again. But I didn't understand why. What purpose did those horrible pictures have?" '

"Me" is Meghan, a sixteen year old girl who has just died  and started her new life at the Academy. "Those horrible pictures" are in a book that Meghan found, while lost, looking for her classroom on her first day at the Academy.

'I stood motionless and stared at the picture for a long time. Then as I flipped through the book, I realized all the pages were filled with pictures just like this one. And in every one of them someone was dying. I flipped twenty pages or so and saw a woman on an operating table in a hospital. I flipped a couple more and saw a young ma, no more than seventeen or eighteen, lying on the floor in a pool of blood. Someone was standing next to him. It made my heart race. The man raised a baseball bat and hit the boy with it. Then he did it again and again ; the body just lay there lifeless. My eyes filled with tears. How could anyone do something that cruel? As the man kept hitting him,the boy exhaled and his spirit emerged from him. Like in the other picture, two spirits arrived through the wall and took the boy's spirit with them and left the body behind'

We follow Meghan and her teenage classmates through their lessons and adventures in the Afterlife. Meghan ends up in a love triangle between Mick, the Academy cook and Jason, the living boy from the picture. It culminates in Meghan trying to prevent Jason's death, with unforeseen complications.

This is a powerfully moving story, simply, but elegantly written, and it left me wanting more. Luckily, it is the first in a series called Afterlife. The second book is called Serenity, and I will be reviewing it soon, as I can't get Meghan and her friends out of my head. I know the premise of this book is a bit far-fetched, but the way it is written somehow makes it totally plausible

I recommend this book for mature young adults and adults alike. The writing style is fresh, the concept unique, a real page-turner. I know that's a bit cliché, but in this instance, it's true.

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