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Bring Me Back To Life

State-sanctioned resurrections make for horrible choices in Chandler Baker's This Is Not The End.

Bring Me Back To Life

BOOK REPORT for This is Not the End by Chandler Baker

Cover Story: If All Your Friends Wanted To Jump Off A Cliff…
BFF Charm: Big Sister
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factor: Scavenger Hunt
Factor: Disability Rep
Anti-Bonus Factor: Patty Chase Award for Awful Parenting
Relationship Status: One and Done

Cover Story: If All Your Friends Wanted To Jump Off A Cliff…

This is such a pretty cover, but all I can think about when I look at it is a nagging parent saying, “And if all your friends wanted to jump off a cliff, would you do that, too?” LEAVE ME ALONE, MOM.

The Deal:

Lake Devereaux lives in a world where science has made resurrection (and total healing) possible—but to prevent total chaos, each person is limited to one resurrection choice, upon their 18th birthdays. Hers has been promised to her older brother, who is paralyzed from the neck down due to a terrible accident. (Yep, that’s right—he’s going to kill himself just before her 18th birthday to be resurrected, and therefore heal his spinal injury. Holy crap.)

Of course, life is full of surprises, and in this case, Lake receives a terrible one: her boyfriend and best friend have both been killed in a horrible car accident. With just days to go before her birthday, she can only save one of them. How is she supposed to decide?

BFF Charm: Big Sister

Between the deaths of her two closest friends, her older brother, Matt, who treats her like crap, and every single adult in her life wanting her to make an impossible choice, she is not having an easy time of it. This poor kid really needs a hug and a non-judgmental ear.

Would I be her BFF otherwise? Nah. She’s a daredevil and an athlete, and as much as she respects her hippie bestie, I don’t know how our paths would have crossed.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

There’s a little romance in this book between Lake and Ringo, a guy she meets through therapy. It doesn’t do anything for me, and borders on unnecessary, but at least she meets some cool new friends through him.

Talky Talk: Straight Up

Baker’s depiction of staggering grief is spot-on. It’s the best part of the book—Lake has no choice but to deal with its waves, whether they leave her snot-nosed and all cried out, laughing over memories, or running into a new boy’s arms to kill the pain.

Even with the heavy subject matter, Baker has a talent for making the pages turn quickly. Her foreshadowing is also impressive: it’s there, but subtle. Strangely enough, for all the moral and ethical dilemmas in the book, religion never comes into play. (You would think that in a world where scientific resurrection is real, religious groups everywhere would have an opinion—I’d at least imagine picketing funeral homes and hospitals.)

Bonus Factor: Scavenger Hunt

Lake’s boyfriend had put together a scavenger hunt for her birthday, before he died, and the clues were so cheesy and hilaribad (just like you’d expect from a teenage boy with a penchant for grand gestures) that they were charming.

Factor: Disability Rep

I’m not sure if the disability representation in this book was good or bad, and I can’t go into an in-depth analysis without spoilers. Here are the facts: Lake’s 23-year-old brother is paralyzed from the neck down, and hates it. (Obviously.) He hates it so much that he’s made multiple suicide attempts, and is willing to die and be resurrected to cure his spinal injury. (Shades of the widely-criticized Me Before You, right?) I’m torn: does this fall under the same “ethical dilemma” category as being able to resurrect humans and choosing between friends/family? Or is this just a terrible message for paralyzed people?

I will say, however, that when Matt and Lake do end up spending one-on-one time in public together, she does have a very quick realization that the world is simply not built for anyone less than 100% able-bodied.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Patty Chase Award for Awful Parenting

HOLY CRAP, the adults in this book are so awful. First of all, Lake’s parents made her promise her resurrection to her brother when she was just a child. Second, they’re okay with killing their son—or at least staging an “accident”—in order to ensure he gets an opportunity to be resurrected. (That’s a plot hole I couldn’t get past. It’s supposedly illegal, but the government doesn’t intervene?)

Then you’ve got the best friend and boyfriend’s parents, who are understandably devastated—but the amount of pressure they put on Lake is unbelievable.

Casting Call:

Veronika Bonnell as Lake

Relationship Status: One and Done

I enjoyed our date on a basic level, and you brought up some interesting ethical questions—but in the end, not everything added up. I wanted more from you than you were willing to give, and the end of our date just didn’t work for me. This is definitely a one-and-done kind of encounter for me, but I could see you being a great option for someone less pedantic.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Disney Hyperion. I received neither money nor a pet unicorn for writing this review, despite how hard I wished for one. This Is Not The End is available now.

Jennie's photo About the Author: Jennie Kendrick lives in San Francisco and has an excessive fondness of historical fiction, spreadsheets, turquoise sparkly things, and bourbon. When she's not reading, writing, or writing about reading, she cooks obsessively, runs an Etsy shop, and thrifts for vintage everything.