Thursday, April 30, 2015
New twist on memories/grief therapy. I've read books with a similar concept in some respects, in which the protagonist's job is to take on many personas and he (or she) finds their own getting lost. "Extreme Denial" comes to mind, though it's an espionage thriller. Other books in this general direction (dealing with grief or needing to keep a person appearing "alive" though they've died or ran off use clones. But this is the only book I've read where actual people are hired to "finish a life" - basically giving those left behind a chance to do or say what they never got the chance to in life. It's fascinating, really, and impossible not to wonder where you would stand morally with such an option. Beyond just the interesting concept, though, is the way Suzanne Young weaves her story lines together - something the reader isn't likely to even notice until toward the end. I don't want to give away spoilers so I won't say more on that. Quinn is a "closer" - she basically studies all aspects of a recently deceased person's life, then (and this was the weird part to me, but Young makes it work) with the consent of the family, she moves in for a few days and helps them get past the initial trauma of the death. She's 17 and has been doing this for about a decade, as her father is director of the project. But she soon gets asked to take on a role only two days after returning from one and to stay for two weeks - big no no's under their rules. Plus she'll have to help a boyfriend, something else she's never done. As she's there, she begins to get attached while at the same time suffering abuse and hate from the real girl's peers. Young makes it clear these aren't bad people, they're just afraid (could their own life be taken over so easily?) while still showing how it hurts Quinn. Eventually questions arise about the death. This is a prequel to "The Program" and while it takes awhile to see how they could be connected, once you do it's pretty amazing. (The book can easily be read as a standalone, though). I've seen somewhere that a sequel is planned for next year - which is awesome because you're left with some major questions. But I can't stress how much I love this series and recommend all three books (The Treatment is the final one in the initial duo). There is a short novella, dealing with Michael Realm from the first two books, but it took me about five minutes max to read it and while sweet, wasn't that satisfying. I absolutely LOVED Quinn, her ex Deacon, the Barnes family, Aaron, Isaac - they were great at showing how grief affects people. Even Angie, Catalina's sister, was wonderful in her way. This was a fascinating look at the world that led to "The Program." I strongly suggest it.