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An excellent read!,
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This review is from: Afterlife Academy (Kindle Edition)
It's a question that humanity seems to have grappled with ever since the evolution of complex thought; what happens when we die? Some people say that, if we've been good, we go to heaven (or somewhere significantly worse than the naughty-step if we've been bad) and some say that only sweet, eternal nothingness is what we have in store. But in Jaimie Adman's third novel, Afterlife Academy, sixteen-year-old Riley Richardson finds out that, after she dies, it's back to school. Immediately.
Yes, things don't exactly start out well for popular girl Riley in Afterlife Academy as, moments after dying in a car crash, she finds herself standing outside the gates of The Afterlife Academy; a school for people who die before they have a chance to finish their education. To make matters worse, she's stranded there with class geek from her old school and second victim of the crash, Anthony. After the unlikely pair make their way inside they soon discover that they have to participate in a series of lessons; haunting, visualisation, (even maths!) in order to `graduate' - a mysterious process by which they leave the academy never to return.
So, a lot for Riley to deal with then, and, unfortunately, she does not deal with it well. After finally accepting that she is in fact dead, Riley becomes seriously frustrated when, despite having been the most popular girl at her previous school, she realises things are now very different. Riley is the school bottom-feeder; mocked, tripped over in the dinner hall and generally despised for not exhibiting the pale grey tones the other students, as well as the school building, all sport.
With Riley having been a pretty nasty person in life (she and her boyfriend Wade viciously bullied Anthony), you might well expect to be cheering this punishment on. And you probably would be if it weren't for the fact that, in death, Riley comes across as a remarkably likeable character. It's a surprise that you can be so easily won over by such a (previously) mean girl but, thanks to Adman's superb writing, this is exactly what happens in Afterlife Academy and, despite initially maintaining a feisty facade, Riley soon begins to realise how cruel she's been and begins to crave redemption.
All this might sound like it makes for a somewhat dark and depressing read, but the book is actually exceptionally funny, and this is in no small part thanks to the colourful cast of supporting characters; other recently deceased teenagers, a demon dinner lady and even a bloodthirsty (but completely immobile) pumpkin named Charlie. There is also a strong strand of romance throughout the book and this ties in with the redemption theme very nicely; after all, if love can't save us, what in the afterworld can?