Laura Walton Allen's Reviews > Blueprints of the Afterlife

Blueprints of the Afterlife by Ryan Boudinot
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's review
Jan 27, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy-magical-weird, scifi
Read from January 23 to 26, 2012

What a pleasant surprise....

I stumbled across this book in a completely random way; after three big reading-material disappointments in one night (for instance, did you know the new William Gibson is not a book at all, but a collection of letters? and so on) and I hit whatever is the equivalent of the "Oh, Just Suggest Something" button on Amazon. This book popped up. Something about post-apocalyptic sentient glaciers? Must have, for sheer curiosity's sake.

Blueprints of the Afterlife is a surprising book. It's surprising in its format, surprising in its treatment of certain posthuman and exponential-tech themes, surprising in its empathy and depth. Its treatment of issues of self, identity and free will rival that of the best, aka Philip Dick and maybe even Gene Wolfe, and even though it's rooted firmly in speculative fiction (robots and cyborgs and clones, oh my!) it's one of the most human novels I've read lately.

It won't be for everybody. Without fully spoilering, I'll say that it's not a linear novel; the timeline and narrative is challenging, tricksy, even. It's meta, yes, and meta often equals pretentious and annoying, but this one's meta unselfconsciously, successfully, rightly. The book fits itself well, tricksy and all; I'm convinced that Boudinot couldn't have told this story any other way.

I'd never even heard of Ryan Boudinot before downloading this book three days ago, but I'm already bordering on real fandom. This is his second novel; his debut novel Misconception was also highly acclaimed. It's going on my list right now.
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