Book Review: Aaru by David Meredith
ashley | I first read Reflections of Snow White by David Meredith and was transported by his dreamy and unique retelling of Snow White. When Meredith approached me with his book Aaru, I was once again struck by the unique plot and was excited to see what Meredith would do with it.
The reality of death is something none of us can escape, but Meredith flirts with the idea of our consciousness living on forever after the body dies in a land called Aaru, which is technically a super computer that a person’s consciousness is uploaded to.
I’ve seen this done a few times in movies and I’ve always been fascinated with the idea, but also incredibly confused about the existence of this computerized consciousness. Is it really that person, or just a computer mimicking their behaviour and reading stored data? I’ve always flipped back and forth and haven’t been satisfied with any representation of this quite yet. But I thought Meredith did an incredible job of bringing life and a whole persona to the world of Aaru and those who are living there. His scientific descriptions of the process were clear and easy to understand and his explanations for what this means for the consciousness was believable and probably easier to swallow than some of the examples I’ve come across before.
This book started off really light and hopeful and dream-like, exploring Aaru and all the amazing things that Rose and the other residents can do there. It’s pretty much paradise. But things start to take a much darker turn in the real world, where Rose’s younger sister Koren is being slandered as the face of Aaru and unbeknownst to her, has developed a fan base following in the darkest of dark corners on the internet. Suddenly this magical little story reeks of the scary dangers that come along with fame and celebrity and high profile situations.
This part was very real for me. The descriptions of Koren’s daily media life was spot on, the stress and pressure she feels and how there is always someone who wants to drag people down in the spotlight, it’s all a very bitter taste of the real world. But it was also still very hard to read. Any mention of her internet stalker Magic Man made my skin crawl. Nothing was too graphic or descriptive, but anyone who has seen an episode of Criminal Minds or Law and Order can infer a little imagination to fill in the blanks.
The inevitable question of science vs religion is tossed around a little bit and frankly, I found the religion part popping up strongly a little to often for my own personal liking, but it is hard to have a plot-line about extending life and the afterlife without bringing it into play in one way or another. There are good points raised, I guess I’m just not used to a character talking so openly about religious beliefs, I tend to end up in stories where that doesn’t come into play.
This was an incredibly interesting story, but it veered off in a totally unexpected direction. What I thought would be a look at how putting faith in technology could go drastically wrong, ended up being a lot more in-depth and sinister and more about how it’s the evil of people we should be concerned about, not necessarily these technological advancements. There are definitely trigger points, so be warned that this isn’t just a sci-fi story that goes wrong.
Meredith does something great with this story, though. He very nicely balances each side of the spectrum between life and death in an easy to swallow story that keeps you reading from page to page. Not to mention the cliff hanger in the end that keeps you looking over your shoulder once you close the book.
july 9, 2017
copy provided for honest review by
the author, david meredith