Cover Image: Afterlife Crisis

Afterlife Crisis

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Member Reviews

Has this ever happened to you? You read a book that would be a solid 5 star pick if one of the side characters didn’t annoy the dickens out of you. You loose your nerve, your sense of objectivity, and even though you think that the character was written perfectly you still knock off a star because you didn’t like them. You promptly move on with your life, beginning the sequel to the last book you read. You are excited. The book tied its own story up neatly, but staged the scene for a sequel starring your least favorite character. The first book had more points of view, so obviously this one will too. So you start reading, and to your horror, the ENTIRE book is told from this character’s perspective. 

But.. you keep reading. Soon it’s midnight and you have to get up at 5am to go to a job you tolerate for the money but are too chicken to quit and follow your artistic passions, and you still don’t want to stop. You could go into work, because being an essential employee sucks when everyone else is working from home with flexible hours, tired and snippy but fully fulfilled. This might even be the day you tell your boss to shove his TPS reports where the sun doesn’t shine. Not really, because monet, but I digress. What life changing, paradigm shifting, fresh hell is this? This is the feeling when an author takes a character you despise, writes a sequel about that character, and makes you fall in love. 

I recently finished Afterlife Crisis by Randal Graham and it’s one of the few times I have changed my mind about a book part of the way through. I hate the main character , Rinnick, with a burning passion because he’s a verbose, self important, and all together stupid man who thinks he is the hero of his story. Well, he is the hero of his story, but his story and the story at large are a bit different. But how can that be? After all, the entire book is told from Rinnick’s perspective? What saved this book for me, was the way the characters around Rinnick handled having to work with him to save Detroit. They know he isn’t the smartest guy around, but they also know that for some reason they can’t go on this quest without him. They get through it as best they can. It felt like we were on the same side, honestly. We were all suffering through the absurdity together. I can’t go into more details without spoiling the book, but all together the story worked.

The story is very much an example of absurdist humor and probably a piece that will be counted in the ‘weird fantasy’ genre once that genre gains more acceptance and readership. The sentences are long, the references are spot on, and it’s definitely not a book to be taken seriously. Most of the time I was reading this book I really needed to read something silly, and this book filled that need very nicely. There were some times I put it down because I needed something else in my life, but hey, I’m a mood reader and that just happens sometimes. This book knows what it is and does it well.
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I had a lot of fun to read this book. It's nonsensical, witty and well written.
It's the first book I read by this author and won't surely be the last.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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This is an odd book. Very odd indeed. But. it seems to relish being odd at the expense of telling a cohesive story.

Graham does a note-perfect Wodehouse impression with his writing. But while the structure is there, he's missing the x-factor that made Wodehouse's characters beloved and endearing. Rhinick Feynman speaks like Bertie Wooster, but he doesn't have the same oafishness Bettie has. Bertie Wooster is a bloviating, verbose idiot, while Feynman is the model of competence in his circle.

I would recommend this book for fans of humorous sci-fi and fantasy, but it wasn't the right book for me.
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There is a developing genre called the New Weird, marked by strange civilizations, hallucinatory writing, and a general feeling of “what the hell did I just read?” Randal Graham’s Afterlife Crisis is weird, even if it’s not New Weird. I don’t have a genre label for the kinds of fiction that Graham, Tom Holt, and a scant handful of others write. Graham’s novel, like others in this as yet unnamed genre, is marked by hilariously erudite verbosity; references to literature, myth, science, art, history, psychology, and all the rest of the library; and a determined willingness to play with the laws of reality. I adore these novels. Their loopy wordiness is a pure delight for my bookish soul.

Afterlife Crisis is the sequel to Beforelife, which I have not read. Given how forgetfulness is a running them in Afterlife Crisis and its general weirdness, I wouldn’t say that reading Beforelife is an absolute necessity. I was able to get along just fine. That said, I want more of Graham’s bizarre version of the afterlife and definitely plan to read Beforelife.

Afterlife Crisis follows the adventures of Rhinnick Feynman as he gets wrapped up in other people’s adventures to change Detroit, an afterlife full of people who think that the beforelife is a mental illness and where teleportation is possible. At least, it was possible. Rhinnick Feynman is part way through his search for Isaac Newton at the behest of Abe, the god of Detroit—see what I mean about weirdness?—when the teleportation system suddenly disappears and he has to take a bus to the university. This is probably the most comprehensible part of the plot. It just gets goofier from there.

Rhinnick’s internal monologue made it easy to be a passenger in Detroit. He talks like a post-corporeal Bertie Wooster and I couldn’t get enough of it. Graham’s writing is pitch-perfect Wodehouse. Even though the story twisted and turned all over the place, I was often laughing at Rhinnick’s phrasing. I also loved his (after)world view. Rhinnick firmly believes that the reality all the characters find themselves in is a story written by a great Author who occasionally revises as they go. This belief gives Rhinnick a very laissez-faire attitude to things, which also helped the oddities go down more easily.

I really enjoyed this book. I strongly recommend it for readers who also love the gentler side of Weird, especially when it comes with a couple of thesauri worth of words.
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I realised after I requested this book that it is the second in a series. I thought that the story was very funny in places but hard to follow in others. I think that this is a series that needs to be read in order so as to fully appreciate the story

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
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This was a did-not-finish for me, I’m sorry to say. Which I feel guilty about, because the author clearly had an absolute blast writing it. But the same pleasure the author had in rendering all those super complicated sentences with overly-elaborate vocabulary that made this fun to read also made it hard to read.
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For those who are fans of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy know that the tale was originally presented on the radio and the flowing nonsensical nature of that story is echoed here, with this story seeming to be more raw and stream of consciousness. The cleverness of the writing is fun and the wit is definitely dry.
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When I first started this book I was mildly confused because I was in a very different setting than I would normally find myself. It was almost as though I was starting a sequel in the middle of the book. However, after some research, I came to the realization that I WAS in fact starting a sequel in the middle of the story. So I familiarized myself with the particulars of this otherworld, and realized that this was in fact, a book that was much like a Neil Gaiman or Douglas Adams piece. Very tongue in cheek, very sarcastic, and very funny. 
The entire time I was not quite sure what was happening, but it was very entertaining. If you have read the first book, I am going to assume the entire book makes a lot more sense. However, I thought even having not read the first book, this one was very entertaining as well.
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I had high hopes for this title, being described as a mix of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, but I'm sad to say that it didn't live up to my expectations. 

While both Pratchett and Adams have a sometimes roundabout way of writing - a part of their charm - I felt that the writing in Afterlife Crisis became too convoluted, and too difficult to follow. 
I had to look up both the book and the author several times, thinking I must've missed that Afterlife Crisis is a sequel, because the main character keeps referencing previous occurrences and *this* story just doesn't seem to make sense without being familiar with a (seemingly non-existant?) backstory.
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