Monday, July 2, 2018

Purgatorium


J.H. Carnathan
Paperback: 372 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 15, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1514279614
ISBN-13: 978-1514279618

Synopsis
When his watch resets to zero, his morning starts again. A handsome, young urban professional awakens inside his cavernous high-rise apartment. He is an emotionless drone of a man content with his self-structured regiment and amazing wealth, and he is totally oblivious to his abnormal lifestyle. Every day lasts an hour with the time always ending right at 60 minutes, giving him only 5 minutes to stay at one specific time zone in his structured routine. He keeps reliving the same day over and over, barely able to remember anything from the day before and unable to maintain mental order as he stumbles through his strange existence. 

One day, his routine is interrupted when seven strangers separately appear. Everything slams to a halt as they tell him that his physical body is in a coma and his consciousness is currently in a purgatory-like realm. As his body lies in a coma, his mind has been living a lavish lifestyle at a price: his sinful memories and his autonomy. 

After finding out his life support is coming to an end in eight hours, he must now run a race to get his life back. He must rely on this group who seem to tender on truth and violence to get him to the finish line on time. He just needs to remember who he is and come to terms with what he has done if he's ever going to decide if he is a soul survivor ready for a second chance at life or a lost soul bound by no redemption. 

The clock is ticking, and if he is going to survive, he'll have to face his demons and outthink the clock that has constrained him for so long. For each minute that passes teeters the fine line between his life and death.

My Thoughts
I can't explain why but I shied away from this read at the start. However, the fact that Carnathan is writing a story so full of life while the protagonist lies in a coma, where his soul is trapped in Purgatorium, living the same day over, does seem fitting, as does the fact that Barachiel leads the other angels we are introduced to.
Done in a Science Fiction genre, there are many things I like about this look at human exploration.
Firstly, the writing is truly remarkable and intriguing and I had the same pensive mood that I feel when reading my favorite Gothics. Indeed. An overwhelming thought was, "What price does one pay to cleanse one's mind"?
Secondly, I love the first person narration and the many twists and turns throughout the book. For a while it appeared we were skipping round robin where elation, disgust and a myriad of other emotional reactions lead to our speculations. Yes! We learn taking a breath and making a conscious choice is much better than the more typical knee-jerk reaction.
Thirdly, I appreciate the use of cards, snowglobes and other items, name associations, time-checks, and the observative text occurring during flashbacks that fire up the intensity. 
Lastly, readers do get the opportunity to witness the protagonists sense of dread being matched with a sense of disapproval at what is acknowledged to be overly self-indulgent. And, in the darkest hours, we see that upon reflection, the focus becomes clearer. And once the capacity of sensation is gained, atonement is sought, with the realization that identity is the human connection. 
In closing, I found the 3 words in the opening line to be luminous. “I jolt awake”.

I received this fascinating novel through the generosity of the author for an honest review.

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