My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Friday, August 11, 2017

ARC Review: This Is Not The End by Chandler Baker

Please Note:  I received an advance reader's copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
On one cloudless, radiant summer afternoon, Lake Devereaux lost everything. The car crash claimed the lives of her best friend and boyfriend, the people who had become her family after her own fell apart. But she doesn’t have to lose them both.

The development of resurrection technology has changed the world. Under the new laws regulating the process, each person gets one resurrection to be used or forfeited on their eighteenth birthday. Mere weeks away from turning eighteen, Lake faces an impossible choice.

Envisioning life without one of the people she loves most is shattering enough, but Lake carries an additional burden: years ago, under family pressure, Lake secretly—and illegally—promised her resurrection to someone who isn’t even dead yet.

The search for answers about her future draws Lake more deeply into the secrets of her past until she begins to question everything about those closest to her. Betrayals and hurts both new and old threaten to eclipse the memories she once cherished.

Then Lake meets a boy unlike anyone she’s encountered before, who unflinchingly embraces the darkest parts of her life . . . and who believes that all resurrections are wrong.

Which path is the right one? And how can Lake start to heal when she can't move on?

When I started reading This Is Not The End, by Chandler Baker,  I really didn't know what to expect.  Was this going to be a story of love and loss? About making the most of the life you have? A mystery?  A tale of one messed up family?  Well, the answer is all of the above.  I was blown away by this book.  The author took some risks with my emotions as they were tossed around like a load of laundry!  


But the overall effect was one of a book that was meaningful,  and kept me on the edge of my seat.

What I Liked:
Layered Story:
There is a lot going on in this story.  This whole society has been turned upside-down by breakthrough technology that "resurrects" a dead person.  Because of how controversial this is, the use of resurrection is strictly controlled.  A individual has one opportunity to resurrect one person (or decline to) on their eighteenth birthday.  Many people think this is a great idea, while others decry it as unnatural.  How this affects Lake, her family, and the families of her two dead friends is at the heart of this story.  Is resurrection the answer to one's prayers?  Or is the chance for a second life preventing some from moving on after a loss?  This is not just a choice that will affect Lake.  So many are touched by her choice.  But is that a fair burden to put on someone just turning eighteen?

Lake is a complicated girl.  On the surface, many envy her good looks and the close relationships she has with her best friend, Penny, and her boyfriend, Will.  But take a closer look and you see a girl with big problems. 

Ever since her older brother's accident (which has caused him to be a quadriplegic), her parents are too consumed with Matt's care to be there for Lake.  She is left out of every family decision, and is told (not asked) that she will resurrect Matt, who would come back to life without his spinal chord injury.  They actually plan to have him killed just before Lake's birthday (what a birthday memory)!  Besides all the ethical issues, Matt is a complete jerk to Lake.  When Penny and Will are killed, she feel no compunction whatsoever to use her resurrection on one of her friends, leaving Matt out.

There is more going on with Matt than meets the eye.  Why is he so resentful of Lake?  If someone is literally holding your life in their hands, why would you antagonize them?  There actually is a strong reason for his anger, which I was gasping over when I figured it out.  

Impossible Choices:
How in the world is Lake supposed to choose between resurrecting Penny, Will, or her brother?  The pressure from all three families is intense, with fights breaking out at funerals, offers of money, and guilt trips galore.  Her classmates are actually betting cash on who her pick will be!  When Lake tries to ascertain what her friends would want, she starts to uncover some truths she would rather not know!  Were Penny and she really as close as she thought?  Did Will really love her?  There is also the distinct possibility that if she doesn't resurrect Matt, her family will disown her.  How can she choose?

What I Was Mixed About:
I was put off my Matt's decision to end his life, rather than live as a quadriplegic, and even more so by the parents eagerness to help him.  Do they want to help him so he can live his best life, or are they tired of taking care of him?  Why are they not helping him to create his best life now?  This kid needs intense therapy, but he is allowed to wallow in pain and anger, waiting for Lake's birthday to transform him.  The reality is that this is a complicated issue.  I am not naive about the challenges of someone in a wheelchair.  But this book, at first, seemed to say that life wasn't worth living if you are severely disabled.

This theme is extensively explored in the book, so that is why I am not totally turned off by this aspect of the novel.  But it certainly made me uncomfortable.  Would Matt suddenly change his attitude and accept his limitations?  That seemed like it would be a bit of a stretch.  Yet I was horrified by what the other outcome would mean.  I was on the edge of my seat till the very end of the book when this is resolved.

This book asks brutally honest questions about what one is willing to live with.  I'm not just talking about Matt's situation.  Could you resurrect someone who you know is against it?  Are you willing to risk the anger of your family for your choices?  This is the mammoth of the "Who gets to decide" story line.  It is a roller-coaster of a reading experience, that I highly recommend.






Release Date:  August 8th, 2017

Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion

Genre:  YA Science Fiction

Length:  384 pages

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  ARC E-Book

Recommendation:  Tough to read, at times, but this book was worth it.
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2019 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 10 books toward her goal of 120 books.


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