“… Let them have everything – health, food, a place to live, entertainment. They are and remain unhappy and low-spirited for the demon waits and waits…” – Friedrich Nietzsche
About Aaru: Halls of Hel
Rose is a Veda. In Elysian Industries’ virtual paradise of Aaru, that means she’s practically a goddess. She is immortal. She is powerful. A limitless paradise is hers and her friends’ to command. They are free from sickness and pain, old age and death. She should be ecstatic over her prestige and privilege, but the gilded utopia has lost its luster. In a reality where anything can be hers with a thought, and Rose can master any skill instantly with nothing but her imagination, to what can she still aspire? She has all of eternity to fill, but what will her purpose be? Rose adores her sweet, Latin boyfriend, Franco. She loves wiling away endless immaculate days with her friends, but shouldn’t there be more to life than mere play?
Rose is dogged by deep concern for her little sister, Koren, the Elysian Industries spokes-model and reality star back in the “Before” world. Though Koren is wealthy, famous, and idolized by millions of adoring fans, her life is spinning out of control. Her parents’ marriage is on the rocks, and the boyfriend of her dreams, Jonas Perry, seems suddenly indifferent. Koren finds her celebrity increasingly isolating, her grueling work schedule exhausting, and the constant scrutiny of her personal life unwelcomed and intrusive. To top it all off, she has regular nightmares about the death of her friend, Kiku, and the still-at-large Magic Man who nearly stole away her everything.
Koren and Rose have more to fear from this quarter than they know. Magic Man’s obsession with the teenage idol has not lessened, and he is far from defeated. With vital aid from an unexpected source, his nefarious schemes to make Koren his own and to hack the Aaru mainframe are on track and moving forward. Unless the sisters can thwart his sinister designs, everyone and everything the girls hold dear could be destroyed.
This second installment of the Aaru Cycle (find my other review here) is intense and full of suspense – you can not stop turning the pages as you have to know what is happening next.
Rose is now immortal and living in the world of Aaru (while not necessary, you should really read book one first to learn more about the history of the world and how it came to be), she is free of the disease that plagued her in life and free of pain, worry and fear. She can create things into existent with her mind and she has finally found true love in Franco. The only drawback? She is struggling to learn to live with a purpose. Why is she there? What does she give back to society? How will she continue to learn and grow? She is given the blessing of Arch Veda for protecting the world from the horrors of Magic Man but even then is this enough to satisfy her needs and wants?
Her sister, Koren, is plagued by nightmares of the ordeal she endured at the hands of Magic Man not to mention the fame and family fights that seem to follow her. She misses her sister and struggles in a world while watching her sister live in presumed happiness. We begin to see not only her but others question why would they continue on in a world of pain when a world of happiness is so close by?
Tied into this is a strange new character throughout the novel who seems to contain parts of both Rose, Koren and her creator. In the beginning, I was not quite sure who she was and how she tied into the story but as the plot evolved you became well aware of who she was and how she was tied into Rose, Koren and Magic Man.
This was an exciting, well written novel. You are given just enough at each stage of the book to keep the plot moving but not enough to spoil the story. Your heart goes out to Rose and Koren but oddly enough also to our new character, Hel, who isn’t quite as evil as you are led to expect. She is a product of her creator but has elements of warmth and love, just not quite sure how to show it. We are left with a hanger that makes you excited for the next book in this series. A definite must read!
You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.
About the Author
David Meredith is a writer and educator originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. He received both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tennessee. He received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee. On and off, he spent nearly a decade, from 1999-2010 teaching English in Northern Japan, but currently lives with his wife and three children in the Nashville Area where he continues to write and teach English.
Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.