Today I’m reviewing Aaru: Halls of Hel. I reviewed book one, Aaru and you can read that here. A big thanks to David Meredith for allowing me to read his book!
“… 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…”
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? Also, 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.
I was immediately excited to book two because the concept for Aaru was really cool. Aaru is a system that keeps people alive and lets them connect to their loved ones. The motal questions and implications that come from something like that was what made book one super intriguing.
Aaru: Halls of Hel picks up a little after the events in book one. This book is very well written. David Meredith keeps the suspense piling slowly as we see the fracture in Koren’s family and the mistakes her parents kept making. It brought this really intriguing complexity to the novel that made me want more.
We get to focus on Rose and Aaru. What are the implications of eternal life? I loved the theme of emptiness that seemed to be in all the people in Aaru. They lacked purpose, and didn’t need to work for anything. The attention to detail and complexity levels of this story are really cool. Every character felt alive and I enjoyed reading their story.
I really enjoyed this book. I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next. I recommend this one to scifi/dystopian fans for sure.
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.
A giant thank you to David for sending me a copy of Aaru: Halls of Hel! I hope you all check it out. Let me know what you think in the comments!