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Afterlife: The Resurrection Chronicles by Merrie Destefano
Cover Artist: Gordon Crabb
Review by Gayle Surrette
Eos Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061990816
Date: 01 October 2010 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Chaz Domingue is a professional Babysitter for the newly resurrected in New Orleans. He’s also a member of the family that founded Fresh Start. It’s the future and you can choose to live again in a new body when you die, but you only get nine lives – or maybe six depending on how good the technology and the prep you received were. Babysitters help you adjust to your new body and to fit into your new life. How much of your past life you remember is up to you, but since returning memories can cause a cascade that could leave you vulnerable or brain fried, babysitters help to keep the client calm until they are able to handle stress themselves. Chaz’s newest client, Angelique, is having some strange problems such as knowing some things she shouldn’t and not knowing some she should. On the other hand, it looks like she’s a target for some group but who they are and why they want a new lifer is a mystery.

Taking place in a future New Orleans, the world of Afterlife is not much different from the one we live in. The jazz is still smooth and the city is as much dream as reality -- as it always was – and people are always the same a mix of the good, the bad, and the power-mad. But the big difference is Fresh Start. You can have a chip inserted into you that will notify the company when you die and they’ll pick up your body and download your consciousness into a new one after wiping those memories that you don’t want to bring with you to your new life.

A new life is an option that some people chose to go without believing that God gave people one life and that should be enough. The book is in many ways a philosophical exploration of how people may react to life extension technologies. If our reward for living a good life is an afterlife in heaven then is choosing science to continue your existence for another lifetime against God’s plan? Do you condemn your soul when you choose science over the will of God? No matter what you, personally, may believe, people will have differing opinions on this issue. Destefano sets her stage so that as well as solving the mystery of just who Angelique was in her past life, and why she’s so important to a group that seems willing to kill in order to get her, we also find ourselves wondering which choice would we make.

There’s also an exploration of business practices that place the bottom line above the safety of the users of your service. It seems there is a slight, little bitty problem that occurs causing some people on their next to last resurrections to freeze-up and die with no further chance of a resurrection.

This is one of those books that tells a heck of a good action tale as Chaz and Angelique try to stay one step ahead of her kidnappers, while keeping her alive and without complications during the early stages of her new life. As if that wasn’t enough they also have to try to get her to remember just what it is that she did in her past life that has them so focused on capturing her. Yet, Destefano still manages to deal with philosophical thoughts on life, death, afterlife, and using technology to give your current life another fresh start until you’ve used up your nine resurrections—all without bogging down the story.

Interesting world. Interesting characters. Interesting look at life, afterlife, and religion. Afterlife is definitely as much an exploration of characters as it is a what-if thought experiment.

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