This book is a hard one to rate. It pulls the heart strings and yet leaves a subtly bitter taste at the same time. Please note that this review may contain some spoilers.
On the plus side, this book really gets you thinking: if I was dead what would I do with my infinite days? Where would I go? Could I bear to look in on my loved ones? Could I stand to watch my death? I absolutely love books that make me question things like this. Our main characters, Nin and Dylan, are alone in “The Hereafter” together and at first they are content with their own routines and spaces. Eventually they meet and begin to recover memories from their lives and discover that their lives–and deaths–actually have something in common. I also loved the phoenix that Dylan carves for Nin and how she really lives up to that in the end. By saving him, it is Nin who sparks a near rebirth for both of them. And of course we have a happily ever after for everyone in the end.
On the down side of the story, the book deals with some tough topics and to me, I didn’t always like how they were dealt with. For example, Nin’s abusive relationship with her boyfriend who is involved in (what is hinted at as) drug and trafficking rings. There are some books out there that deal with topics like this (other tough topics in this book include parental depression, drug use, abuse, and suicide; poor self-image) that resolve in very solid and positive ways and I find myself recommending them to my teenage students or even sometimes my colleagues or peers. I found these aspects to be mostly necessary plot points, but not relatable.
Soundtrack: “Bird of the Summer” ~ A Fine Frenzy