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Paradise - a divine comedy (Jamie's Myth Book 1) Kindle Edition
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The story itself is set a round web designer Jamie and criminal lawyer Keziah who, after being involved in a car crash, end up heading to the afterlife together. Once there, they get captured by some spirits who seem intent on forcing them to live in an artificial paradise in an attempt to trial a new form of spiritual worship. The story follows Jamie and Keziah's experiences in this artificial paradise as they face off against each other and the spirits who are holding them captive.
The humour and wit that the author has used in the book is there to try and enhance and complement the serious themes being discussed and it does work to an extent. For example, the wit and banter that is present throughout the novel did make me smile and laugh, especially the discussions between Jamie and Caroline who was basically a self imagined version of his ex girlfriend. However, as the story progressed I have to admit that I began to find it harder to pick up the novel and finish it as the theological elements of the novel became more important to the plot which required me to really try and grasp the points being made. Then again this was probably my own fault as I read the final parts of the book after taking part in a 24 hour read-a-thon!
In regards to the characters, I found it quite hard to dislike Jamie even though he was self-absorbed, a coward and selfish. I think these traits actually increased the level at which the reader could be amused as they were utilised cleverly by the author to create entertaining scenes between him and the other characters. I actually don't think any of the other characters are really developed in as good a detail as him, even Keziah who is one of the other main characters. They all mainly seem to be there as different foils for Jamie to bounce his wits against.
Overall, this was a funny and amusing story and I did enjoy the humorous elements, however I struggled a little bit to keep going through the theological elements. Basically, I believe that this book will probably appeal to people that like the humour of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett but also want to read something with a deeper underlying meaning.
There's much that I enjoyed about it. The surrealism, the fantastic scenarios, the comic characters, the dialogue, and the humour. I laughed a lot, usually at Jamie - the pitifully and helplessly shallow Jamie.
For instance the interaction between Jamie and his ex, Caroline, or at least the recreated Caroline from his memory, was funny; such as when she returns from a coffee and triple chocolate muffin with Keziah and complains that "neither of us could believe how one dimensional I am as a character. Honestly Jamie. We went out for eighteen months. I'm your complete memory of me... It was a terrifying insight into the male mind. "
I like the way the reality of what has happened to Jamie and Keziah after their accident is gradually introduced and builds up to a satisfying conclusion as the other plot, the finale of Gaston and Leopold's efforts also builds up to a fantastic and somewhat surprising end.
But what was really good was the treatment of Keziah. Keziah had landed up in this surreal world with a load of unresolved issues and pain from her earthly existence. While Jamie is recreating lighthouses, The Space Shuttle, and Thai Red Curry for his enjoyment in his part of the new world, Keziah's world is a mix of giant syringes and bonfires with various people on them. Not wanting to say too much and spoil it, but the image of her bravely standing under the onslaught of those giant memory blobs that crash on her from a height, sending rocks and dust all over the place, is just terrific. As is the image of the water... and I won't say any more except that the treatment of Keziah is deeply compassionate and quite beautiful.
The book reminded me a little of Kurt Vonnegut and also a little of the magic realist Angela Carter. It is well written and has a good use of metaphor that is always natural and never seems contrived. It was an enjoyable read and makes you think.
I'm ordering the sequel and looking forward to reading it.
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