“…Death and the stillness of death are the only things certain and common to all in this future…”
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.
Warning: there are mentions of sexual assault and pedophilia in this book.
I’m going to start off by saying this was an interesting read. When I first read the synopsis, I was certainly intrigued by the concept. Living forever in a paradise free from disease, death and despair? Definitely sounds like the place to be. So, whilst I didn’t fly through this book, needing to read just one more chapter, it was a good read.
The plot was a good pace. It didn’t jump straight into it, but it also didn’t long it out more than was necessary. I also liked the switching of the point of views from Koren’s perspective in real life, to Rose’s perspective in Aaru, and the mysterious ‘Magic Mans.’ It was interesting to know what each of them were thinking and feeling, and the mystery surrounding the Magic Man’s identity and intentions was really well written.
The plot, whilst a little predictable at some points, was also great. It’s certainly unique, and I, personally, haven’t read anything like it before. The only thing that did catch me off guard and make me a bit uncomfortable was the way Koren Johnson, a thirteen year old girl, was described by certain characters. I know there is a major problem with the sexualising of young celebrities, so I suppose highlighting that issue was necessary to make the plot more realistic. However, it went further than that, and I do wish I had known beforehand. If this is something that might be triggering to you, I’d give this one a miss. However, there is a lot more to the story line, and if mystery, fantasy and technology is your thing, you might like this one.
Before ending my review, I want to applaud David Meredith on creating such an interesting concept with Aaru. I think writing a character like the Magic Man would’ve been incredibly challenging, so the fact that he was able to create a character like him that inspires so many emotions (hatred, for me) is brilliant. Whilst Aaru wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, it was certainly a memorable one.
Overall, I give this book 3 stars.
I’d like to thank David Meredith for sending me a copy of Aaru in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.