Today is my stop on the blog tour for Second Lives, if you haven't checked the other stops please do as we all offer different content.
Can we just take a minute to appreciate the book cover, it got quite a lot of comments when I posted it so my social media channels, rightly so!
For My Stop on the tour I have my review, non spoiler of course, enjoy!
Second Lives by P.D. Cacek
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 2 days (as and when I could)
Pages - 256
Publisher - Flame Tree Press
Source - Review Copy
Blurb from the back cover
A frightened little boy killed in 1956 cries out for his mother from the body of an eighty-one year old Alzheimer's patient. The soul of a spinster killed in a Suffragette rally wakes in the body of a new mother. An Orthodox Jew, murdered in 1922, opens the eyes of a man who just committed suicide and a teenage girl wakes to discover she's now in the body of a forty-five year old woman.
They are completely alone, displaced in bodies that are not their own, and terrified. All must find immense bravery within themselves to transition into their new lives.
The tagline (and cover) grabbed me on this one, I have read before reincarnation books but this is something different. Each chapter the character's name and timeline is at the top, we then meet the characters, those in their original time period, the lead up to their deaths and those who "die" and are re inhabited. By the time you meet all the characters you are about half way through so I wasn't sure where the book was going to go?
The author, in my opinion, has created a fresh new and frightening story, not in a horror sense but more of a OMG what if, can you imagine and what would you do, humanity rocked. Your loved one dies and then comes back, you are ecstatic but the person who has come back isn't your loved one but someone who has lived previously and now inhabits your loved ones body, can you imagine!
Cacek comes at the story in many angles, the hospital/medical professionals, the people who are replaced? (I don't know what word best applies to the phenomena, travelers?), the travelers themselves and the loved ones dealing with these new people in their loved ones bodies. It looks at humanity, how ordinary people deal with having this emotional trauma flung onto them and those who have been dead and now alive again albeit in different bodies, readjusting, adapting.
The timeline shift for the characters is really interesting, imagine living in the early 1900's - women fighting for basic rights to then being flung into modern day living. Indoor plumbing, flesh on show, speaking when you want rather than when society dictates when a woman should (this is relevant to one character only). Religious beliefs, coming back into the body of someone living a life at odds with your beliefs, a child into an elderly gentleman's body who has Alzheimer's, a teen into an older woman's body with physical limitations. The book doesn't explore these themes in huge depth as it is more about the individuals but it does get the reader thinking, what if? How would you cope? As the traveler, as the family?
Whilst the story itself and characters are fascinating I think the book prompts a lot of in depth thought and musing from the reader, you can't help but imagine being in that position as you read the scenes. How would you react? I didn't want to put it down to see how each situation would play out. A bit of an emotive read at parts as death, grief, suicide, murder, acceptance and loss are huge themes integral to the story. When you have so many characters and time jumps you can easily be put off in books or find it hard going, Cacek does it effortlessly and I had no problems following it, I thought it was really well done. My only complaint would have been to have more! I would have loved the book to go on and sure they say an author is doing their job if they leave the reader wanting more (not hanging, I hate that). 4/5 for me this time, this is my first dance with this author, not sure what their other books are like but I plan to check them out for sure!
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