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"…Death and the stillness of death are the only things certain and common to all in this future…"
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.

She is sixteen years old.

Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.

Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.
What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

296 pages, Kindle Edition

Published July 9, 2017

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About the author

David Meredith

4 books84 followers
Dr. 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.

Author page: https://www.facebook.com/DavidMeredit...

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 114 reviews
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,766 reviews589 followers
July 27, 2017
What if you could be re-united with a loved one who has died? Would being able to see and talk to them on a limited basis be enough or would you want more? What if they came to you through the bits and bytes of computer technology? What if somehow their essence of who they are could be preserved before death? Sound too science fiction for you? Sound too much like blasphemy to alter the cycle of life and death through science? What of the soul of a person?

Author David Meredith has created a tale of love, loss and given his tale of that hoped for reunion in AARU and his creation is truly unique in the world of literature.

Young Rose was going to die, medical technology could not save her from the ravages of cancer, but her desperate parents took a chance on a man of science who claimed he could keep Rose alive in a virtual world, completely able to communicate, cognizant of all of Rose’s memories and life experiences. Witness this fantasy come to life, filled with emotion, hope, fear, failure and above all, love for a girl who died to soon and too viciously.

Ask yourself, could you believe in this reality? Would you allow yourself to be prostituted to further the reach of this “miracle of science” to a public desperate for the hope it brings? Rose’s sister, Koren will run the gauntlet of the media and become the puppet to spread the word to a world craving miracles. The cold hard facts of life are that research and development take money and someone must speak for those like Rose, alive, but different.

David Meredith has ridden the edge with this one and has come home a winner! Roiling emotions come to life as each character becomes like a human entity as we wonder, could this ever happen? Would it be life again? Wonderful reading, completely fresh and thought-provoking, as the flawed characters in Mr. Meredith’s tale seem to think, do and say exactly as I would. You will have your heart wrenched from your chest as your mind grasps at the thought: What If?

I received this copy from David Meredith in exchange for my honest & voluntary review.

Series: Aaru Cycle - Book 1
Publication Date: July 9, 2017
Publisher: David Meredith
Genre: NA Fantasy
Print Length: 305 pages
Available from: Amazon
For Reviews & More: http://tometender.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,560 reviews259 followers
September 4, 2017
I received a paperback copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Rose is sixteen and she's dying of leukemia. While she's accepted that she doesn't have much time left, her sister has not. After a mysterious man approaches the family with a new experimental procedure that could actually save Rose's life, Koren does her best to convince Rose to try this one last treatment. This treatment consists of a brain scan that will upload Rose's mind into Aaru, a supercomputer, where after her physical death she can live on in a virtual paradise free from sickness, pain, and death. Beyond all belief it works and soon enough both sisters become nationally known. Soon they realize that their celebrity spokeperson status isn't as great as it's cracked up to be. Not everyone is thrilled with the idea of Aaru. Koren and Rose have a lot to come to terms with considering the new challenges they're facing - and rethink long held beliefs.

I'm really glad that I decided to take a chance on this YA sci-fi novel when I was approached by the author to try this series opener. I was sucked into Rose and Koren's unique world(s) right from the get go. David Meredith, the author, does a fantastic job of covering difficult and challenging subjects. I could really feel for both Rose and Koren, along with their parents. Although, the book is firmly sci-fi with some thriller elements, it still feels like it could be a contemporary - the story's real focus is on it's characters. There are so many wonderful stories that could be told in this ultimately hopeful novel.

Overall, I highly recommend trying Aaru by David Meredith - it's such a promising series opener and I'm excited to see where the story goes from where we left off. I'll definitely be keeping my eye on this author's future projects. By the way, I totally had CAL from Doctor Who's "Silence in the Library"/ "Forest of the Dead" vibes when it comes to Aaru.

Profile Image for Jennifer Leigh.
Author 5 books30 followers
August 3, 2017
I received a copy of Aaru from David Meredith in exchange for an honest review.
Aaru delves into a world where there can be an alternative to death. This new system becomes the focus of two sisters’ lives. Rose is dying from cancer, and Koren is having to deal with losing her sister. From this, steps in Elysian Industries. They change everything for Rose and make Koren a celebrity. But not everything is as simple as it seems.
David Meredith uses a lot of detail in his this book that makes the characters and the world come alive. The flow of the writing is intriguing, and I can’t wait for book two!
For my complete review on Aaru, go to http://www.boundtowriting.com/review-...
483 reviews10 followers
November 11, 2017

Death is one of the hardest things to deal with in life. The fear of the unknown, the fear for our loved ones and the pain of missing them can be overwhelming and crushing.

In this novel, the pain of losing a child and a sister is at the forefront. Rose is a young girl, her life was full of happiness and promise until she was diagnosed with cancer. Her health quickly declines and we watch as she goes from bitterness to acceptance of her fate - she just wants the pain to end. Like so many people can relate to, her family has the hardest time accepting her fate. They want her to keep pushing through, to keep fighting and to try just one more treatment. Koren, her younger sister, can not imagine a life without her sister, her protector and the one she always goes to.

Then enters a man who promises a way out - a way to save Rose and to keep their hope and connection alive. At the time no one could understand or even appreciate the technology that he is referring to. It isn't until after Rose's death that they fully understand what the man had offered them. The technology uploads a full copy of the person's mind - in essence the parts of us that make us who we are not our outer shells - into a virtual world where there is no pain, suffering and they can turn it into whatever they want.

This novel was intense, heart breaking, hopeful and challenges what we feel about death and life after death. The novel was well written and powerful, many times I found myself in tears over the unfairness and the powerful emotions that flew off the pages. As the story evolves, you are full of hope and fear especially as the technology is brought to the public.

Aaru is a well written novel that draws you in and challenges how you feel about death, love and life - a definite must read!
Profile Image for Rajalakshmi Prithviraj.
Author 2 books31 followers
July 14, 2017
If I create a list of books that are going to stay with me for life, then Aaru is definitely one of them.

The pain of losing a dear one and the pangs of separation are something which cannot be easily expressed. Ask anybody who has seen death of a loved one, the instant reply would be "wish I could meet him or her for one last time". The trauma, the scar remain for life.

Aaru deals with the concept of uniting people on earth with their loved one through the virtual world. For further details you need to read the story. Trust me as I say, the concept is way too different than what most fantasy world stories are made of. In fact, this story beautifully combines fantasy with reality using technology.

David has an amazing style of writing. His narration tugs at your heart and makes you emote alongside as you read the story. There is pain, conflict, love and most importantly, hope. The language is simple yet it hits you hard in the sense, you will be thinking about this story long after you have completed it. The flow of narration was smooth with no breaks between scenes. The beauty in David's writing is that it stays with you. The imageries are as real as the real world.

Though the story predominantly belongs to Rose. However, I must admit, every character had a distinctive role to play. Even the antagonist was so well-etched that it was easy to relate to him in the real world. The characters were as real to real individuals. They had their emotions, their imperfections and contributed to the storyline.

To sum up, the story is a must read. I read it in one session and will read it again and again. In fact, if you have lost hope, got separated from a loved one, then this story is for you. There is a message of hope. The story is even more interesting because of the unconventional concept it revolves around. The best part is that there is a cliffhanger at the end and I sincerely hope there is a sequel. An amazingly awesome book and a definite must-read.

P.S - David I am so grateful for your awesome story. Thank you for sharing it with me. The opinions expressed are my honest views after reading the story. I really wish we had an Aaru in real life as well.
Author 7 books12 followers
July 17, 2017
Amazing story! I love the character development, and David Meredith's writing style is captivating! Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Shealea.
441 reviews1,200 followers
October 1, 2020
Readers should be warned that the novel contains sensitive, possibly triggering content such as sexual assault (directed towards a minor), stalking, pedophilia, child pornography and exploitation, and suicidal thoughts (i.e. wishing for death) – some of which are to be briefly discussed in the latter portion of this review as well.

If I were to completely condense my thoughts on Aaru, I’d say that while I have generally mixed feelings about it, these feelings tend to gravitate towards the “not my cup of tea” end of the spectrum. For the most part, this is due to personal preferences. In many ways, Aaru and I just did not click the way I wanted us to.

On one hand, it is evident that the author demonstrates remarkable knowledge on the development of technology, particularly virtual reality. The way the author infused technology into both the story’s plot and world-building was very expertly done. It was really easy for me to buy into the concept that the Elysian Industries was pushing. I appreciated how he was able to write about these technical aspects without overwhelming the audience with highfalutin, intimidating jargon.

In line with this, the author’s knowledge is noticeably not limited to the technical, inner workings of virtual reality but also, and more importantly, encompasses the moral repercussions of any technological innovation, particularly the gray areas. In Aaru, I witnessed the pros and cons so vividly. I have to highly commend Meredith for being admirably fearless in writing honestly about the limitations and imperfections of a virtual afterlife as well as the risks and dangers occurring outside its framework. As a previous engineering major, it is really great to come across a story that bravely navigates both the desirable and undesirable outcomes that arise from innovation.

On the other hand, although the plot stayed true to the story’s synopsis, I can’t help but feel slightly misled by the premise. Although it was explained in the book that the primary reason for developing Aaru was to preserve the essence of brilliant and valuable minds, that idea was hardly explored in the story itself. Instead, the focal point was whatever Rose and Koren were going through both as sisters and as individual characters facing different adversities. Aaru held strong familial themes and heavy psychological undertones, which were not necessarily bad – it’s just not the direction I wanted the story to move towards.

Moreover, as mentioned earlier, the book had scenes involving the exploitation of a minor, specifically Koren (a 14-year-old girl). A lot of them made me feel pretty uncomfortable, which, I believe, was intended by the author. However, despite understanding the well-meaning intentions of Meredith, I found one scene involving sexual assault to be irresponsibly, tactlessly handled. My concern is that it was never acknowledged as sexual assault, and instead, was briefly romanticized by Koren’s narrative. In addition to this, I was also greatly bothered that Aaru does not come with a trigger warning for readers, which is really irresponsible given that pedophilia was a recurring, arguably dominant theme in this book and said book is targeted towards young adults.

A part of me is curious to see how the story would have turned out if Rose was some kind of prodigy with remarkable genius instead of a dying cancer patient, or if Koren was a more mature, more nuanced character. I would have preferred if the story did not heavily revolve around the vulnerability and naivety of Koren. As a result, although the story was indeed quite fascinating, it was, in my opinion, neither gripping nor compelling. I’m sure that there’s a specific audience that would go absolutely crazy for this novel, but I don’t think I’m one of them.

Disclaimer: I received a finished physical copy of Aaru from the author himself in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, David Meredith, for the opportunity!

🌻🍃 More bookish content on Shut up, Shealea 🍃🌻
Profile Image for Pages For Thoughts.
367 reviews27 followers
August 10, 2017
All the emotions were raw and honest. Anybody can connect to the family's situation and their emotions. The anger and angst was so powerful that I feel like it punched my heart. Regardless of the specific situation, the feelings explored are universal. The book also explored the negative, exhaustive side of fame and fortune. This is eye-opening, revealing a side of a story not told very often. Aaru is very thought-provoking. Life after death is a huge "what if," and this book really explores a new type of question. This is a type of story that is completely unique and lovable. I also liked that even though the book was suspenseful and intense at times, there were a lot of light-hearted, fun moments. This book is a mixture of love, sacrifice, humor, and hope. Read more of my review at http://pagesforthoughts.blogspot.com/...
Profile Image for Nada Hosny.
316 reviews85 followers
November 24, 2017
E-Arc received from the publisher in Exchange of an honest review

Death no longer exists, Koren. That is what we’ve accomplished! Our bodies will die, but our consciousness, our creativity, our intellectual capacity? All of that can now continue on forever!
Summary: ( This one is a little long, bear with me folks)

Rose, a 16 years old, dying of Leukemia. She Practically lost all hopes to be cured! she even made peace with her fate, she was waiting for her death!  When out of nowehere an old man in a white lab coat, comes to her family, offering money, to have a scan of her brain, Claiming that he can save her soul! He saved all her emotions and memories, on a the biggest super computer, Aaru! So that way, there's no death! Rose will be forever alive in Aaru.
So Koren( Rose's sister) wouldn't believe her eyes, when she saw her sister with her own eyes, on a computer screen, after 6 months of her death. SHE WAS ALIVE! HALLELUJAH!! 
And in an exchange of having unlimited access to Aaru, Koren had to represent Elysian industries, telling the whole world about Aaru, and her unforgettable experience with this life saver!

But the afterlife, and the celebrities life, didn't actually go as planned.


The Book's Idea is ABSOLUTELY mind blowing! and pretty ORIGINAL and that Totally hooked me up!

So the book goes like, one chapter talking about Koren'slife, and her new carrer, as a celebrity, and the next one is about Rose and her new life in Aaru, and the other residents that keep arriving there.

I cried from the very first 2 pages, //UGLY CRYING KIND OF SHIT\\ Rose's disease, and how she was suffering! it was heartbreaking, And lemme tell you, I dont usually cry over books. so that was something!

He wanted to say more, she could tell. The silence was pregnant, the emptiness begging to be filled. She even wanted him to say the words, she realized – words of comfort, words of healing, something to make the pain in her heart less somehow. Only, he did not have any.

David's writing was so SMOOTH and EASY; but at the same time, he used those scientific terms, that makes you feel like Aaru is a real thing, like i google those words, and yeah it does make sense, and damn i wanna buy a ticked to AARU!

If you make something and find it displeasing, you can always create it anew. It will cost you nothing but time, and from this day forward, time shall be limitless. Create with me Rose.

I had lots of doubts, and questions, concerning this Aaru world, i was like, is Rose dead? where did she go when she died? is she in heaven? what the hell is going on? 

But with each question that pops up in my little head, i find an immediate answer, cause the characters, (Aaru residents and Rose's family) had the same question, we were all trying to figure out this Aaru invention thingy.

What i absolutely loved, was Auset ( an Aaru resident), who was  a Muslim, She recited a few verses from the Holy Quraan, talking about heaven! And how Aaru couldn't possibly be the Heaven we are all waiting for. Im a proud Muslim and i related to her concerns, And the fact that The Verses were written correctly, and well explained, was just BEAUTIFUL!

The Only Thing That i didn't like about this book  was in the chapters where Rose is in Aaru, I though that the world building could've been more detailed. The author took lots of time talking about the characters more than this virtual world.

But other than that! For all those SCIENCE FICTION/ FANTASY geeks! THIS BOOK IS WAY TOO AMAZING.
Profile Image for Georgi.
170 reviews26 followers
September 14, 2017
4.5 stars!

I was approached by the author of this book, who kindly gave me a paperback copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Aaru is a YA/New Adult, Fantasy, Sci-Fi book, which is the first book in the Aaru Cycle book, I’m not certain if there will be a second book, but I hope there is as there is things I need to know! It didn’t take me very long to complete this book, it does have you wanting to know more about it, when I looked up this book before proceeding, it seemed incredibly interesting and I needed to give this book try. I wasn’t disappointed, it was intriguing and the cover draws you in!

Aaru is done from two points of view, two sisters, Rose and Koren. Rose is sixteen and she is dying and will never recover. Koren is thirteen, the younger sister who suffers from her sisters death. Before Rose died, a man comes into her hospital bedroom and takes a 3D scan of her brain and hooks her up to a lot of wires on her head so that they can scan her memories pretty much as they tell her to be happy and get all her family and friends to join in on the day to make it the best day ever. Later Rose dies. Her parents and sister mourn her death but then Mr Adams contacts the family again and tell them that they can see Rose again. She’s pretty much in virtual reality called Aaru, where they can speak through a monitor, like Skype I suppose. But there’s a man who calls himself The Magic Man, because of Aaru, Koren has become a public figure at the young age of thirteen, thrust into the spotlight and became a celebrity, getting horrendous abuse from some people and adored by others but The Magic Man is something different altogether.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I enjoyed this book, it was different, I hope that there’s a second book for this as it was good! I highly recommend it, especially if you enjoy a futuristic sci-fi, fantasy book, I see this as more of a sci-fi rather than fantasy.
Profile Image for Cheyenne Sioux.
Author 2 books33 followers
August 20, 2017
I received an e-book copy of The Aaru Cycle from the author in exchange for an honest review. Aaru falls under the Young Adult / New Adult genre and combines both Science Fiction and Fantasy elements together to craft a story about an alternate reality in where death is avoidable and immortality exists. This story is an emotional roller coaster of what ifs and could be’s, that much like the characters, will have you questioning everything about existence and whats to come after.

This book was insane, I am completely mind boggled and blown away! I love everything about this plot and the way the author went about telling the story of Rose and Koren. It was awesome to say the least. He has crafted such a unique plot that combines two very different worlds; virtual and reality into an uneasy coexistence that is unlike any other story I have read.

He did the same when crafting the characters, they fit this story so well, each characters personality and background was a compliment of diverse and similarity, that had them standing out and blending in perfectly with one another. It’s one of the major things that made this set of characters so realistic, you get a first hand look inside their lives, their thoughts, feelings and beliefs and you are on this emotional ride along side them. The author was clever at only sharing important information and keeping you at reach along with the character. To me, it adds to the reading experience not knowing every detail, that way you aren’t able to tell that the character is going into danger or even to warn them of danger, such as NOT OPENING THE DOOR, because you know exactly whats about to unfold before they do. It’s a nice touch of elemental surprise that hits you and the characters both making the story feel more realistic. I loved that about this book.

Our two main characters, Rose and Koren, are two of my favorite characters in the entire story and also a pretty heartwarming sister-duo too! Their story is both tragic and hopeful and the events that occur are nearly unbelievable. As Rose who suffered from Leukemia passes and then awakens in this newly crafted world of Aaru moments later. She learns what its like to be alive but in a virtual sense and learns that really anything is possible in this world if she just imagines it to be.

Koren on the other hand, is suffering greatly since Roses passing and begins to spiral out of control. No matter how hard she tries to be okay she just cant help but feel incomplete without her sister around. She finds herself not wanting to go to school, or see her friends or even talk to her parents. Just lay in her room and barely exist. It isn’t until they are paid a visit by Mr. Adams the scientist from a company called Elysian Industries that had tried to save Roses life that hope begins to be restored when he in fact explains to them that he had been successful in saving Rose.

Koren is completely beside herself in anger and hurt that people would be so careless to mock her of her loss. They are carted away to the Elysian’s Industry warehouse where Adams provides proof of Rose being alive. He tries to explain the process of saving her essence and that with the brain scans he preformed on her he was able to reconstruct her brain on their system and create a virtual version of her sister who now occupies this place called, Aaru. A virtual world of peace and immortality where the dead are still living and can still communicate with the outside world through their technology and machines. After he logs into the system he then asks Koren to call out her sisters name and she is overwhelmed with complete shock when she sees what looks to be her sister on the computer screen. Still a little skeptical Koren talks with Rose and asks her a bunch of questions only her sister and no one else would ever know. When Rose answers the questions correctly she knew it had to be true.

After the sisters are reunited the story takes some interesting twists and let me just say it is a very bumpy ride. They must now learn how to exist and be there for one another from two separate worlds that are entirely different in every way possible. It’s a test of strength and sisterly bond as they enter this new chapter of their lives completely changed and on different journies. These sisters show so much growth throughout this book, both being in their own places of doom and gloom they find away to cope with their new lives and make it into something they can enjoy. They have each other back and that is the main thing that matters for them. I really love the simplicity of Rose and Koren’s characters and how lovable they truly are.

The parents however I was a little less than pleased with, they honestly annoyed me the entire way through the story. If they cared about their children let me just say you couldn’t tell, at least I couldn’t. I don’t know what parent would let a random scientist do experimental procedures on their sick child without knowing every detail it entailed and if it could do more harm then good. It unsettled me to see them completely dumbfounded and oblivious to what the Elysian staff had done to their daughter. They should have already known every detail whether it made sense or not and judged whether they agree or disagree. But these parents only saw the cash that was handed to them before nodding and letting them experiment on their dying daughter. Morbid right?

The other thing about their parents that really hit a nerve was their neglect towards Koren, when she began to rebel and become extremely depressed, dressing in dark clothes and dying her hair black the only thing her mother had to offer was that Rose wouldn’t like this new Koren. How horrible is that? She just passed and your using her to prove a point. That’s disgusting. Koren also becomes the spokes person for Elysian Industries, a thirteen year old girl who has never been in the spotlight before and is promoting a very controversial project as something entirely real its bound to get some hate. There are a few cases that bother Koren a lot and when trying to talk to her parents about it they both just excuse it as “just show biz honey” like were is the remorse for your daughter? Or the parental aspect that wants her safe and out of harms way? She is only thirteen years old in fact.

The overall story line was so intense and I find the author brilliant for the world he has so carefully crafted. It was a story that has so much depth and detail I could literally write new things to say on this review for hours. It was told in both Koren and Roses’ point of view and the author accomplished a smooth transition between the two worlds. I never got confused at which world we were in at what moment. It was definitely a story I really enjoyed, harboring just the right amount of fantasy and science fiction this story hooked me til the end and I am curious to see where the world of Aaru is headed in the continuation.

I would rate The Cycle of Aaru 4/5 stars, for its originality, extremely catchy plot and the easy-to-love characters! Delve into the epic world of Aaru where you will learn to love this vast new world even if you doubted it at first too.

You can also find this review on my blog:
Profile Image for Sara Lucinda.
97 reviews7 followers
September 14, 2017
What an interesting idea for a story! What would you do if you could see your family members again after they died? Aaru explores all of the emotions of losing a loved one, and then the surprise of getting them back…in a way. It was a little bit of a slow burn for me, with lots of descriptions and info dumps, but if you stick with it to the end you can see well written characters and a pretty good plot that was unexpected in nature and execution.

When Rose dies of cancer her younger sister is emotionally devastated. Unable to understand how her parents could be so accepting of something so final, she draws into her shell almost completely. That is when a representative from a company called Elysian contacts her and reveals to her and her parents that an experimental procedure that they conducted on her sister while she was till alive was successful. Rose is ALIVE.

She isn’t alive in the sense that you are I are. No this company has figured out how to capture peoples consciences and place them into a computer program. When Koren sees Rose for the first time she is obviously skeptical about it, but soon she sees that it really is her sister Rose, in some sense or another.

The company that developed the product has decided to use Rose’s family as a spokesperson for their product, so as the story inside the computer program progresses for Rose, the story progresses out in real time for Koren.

There is a lot of world-building happening in this novel, which made it a little bit of a slow-burner for me. Good, just a little slow. The author goes through many descriptions the occur within the computer program, called Aaru, just like the title. The residents can make anything they want, beautiful houses, rivers, fountains, items for inside their houses, you name it. They can fly up to a window and visit with their living family members too, on a computer screen, inside their own homes. These parts were colorful and fun to read, but one could easily get lost in the details if you weren’t paying attention.

I was more than a little perturbed by the lack of attention from the parents in this book. I can understand that they were distraught about losing their child, but honestly they didn’t seem that involved in what Elysian was doing to their daughter in the days leading up to her death. We didn’t really know her before, so how do we know that the “real” her was completely downloaded from her brain? It’s more than a little hard to wrap your brain around the ideas at times, but the book presents it in a way that is interesting and readable.

There are many elements to this novel, many working pieces and I give the author mad props for stringing it together in such a way that made for such fascinating read, something to think about even after its covers are closed. I thought that this was a good story, definitely worth the read, even if it was a little wordy. The story that the author has to tell is extremely intriguing and macabre but grabbing and engrossing once it gets rolling.

I was given this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Sandy.
310 reviews25 followers
February 11, 2018
What a thought-provoking story. I can see this book becoming the center of a lively book club discussion.

Science and technology are advancing abilities in our world. “Snail mail” has become email. Telegrams became “party lines” which advanced to rotary phones and then smart phones. Sticks & stone tablets became inkwell & parchment. The list goes on and on and continues as we strive to improve information exchanges.

The world of medicine has improved by leaps and bounds, as well. No longer are we plagued by infections due to unsterilized operating conditions. The miracle of birth is not regarded as a common bringer of death. Open heart surgery is almost becoming an outpatient procedure.

However, death is still inevitable in our humble world. Aaru, and the scientists and engineers of Elysian Industries, have discovered a way to make death a thing of the past. Advancements in neuroscience have enabled brains to be scanned, saved and uploaded into a virtual heaven on earth. Mourners can now rejoice. The dying can now regain their youthful exuberance.

Is this ethical? Is cloning ethical? Is there a point where science goes too far? Where is the line separating scientists and God? Then there is the question of cyber-security. If the government can get hacked, who’s to say the essence of a loved one cannot suffer the same invasion?

This all brought to mind the drug ads interrupting our favorite tv shows. The radio waves being assaulted by drug companies attempting to get rich by medicating the world. Listed side effects can be numerous and overwhelming. The only question you can ask is, do the benefits outweigh the risks?

I hope you can tell how much I enjoyed this story. It was emotionally charged. I had to put the book down a few times so I could calm down after my outrage. The underlying theme was love. What would you do for the ones you love? How far would you go for those you call family?

I am eternally thankful to David for allowing me to read this challenging book.
Profile Image for Jenn Bradshaw.
190 reviews4 followers
August 22, 2018
**Note: I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, which follows:**

Wow... Just finished Aaru by David Meredith. I've had it in my TBR pile for quite a while, as it got lost in a storm of review requests. Sitting around an airport for hours had me flipping through my Kindle files, and I ran across this story, and quickly shuffled it to the top of my (now written) list! And now that book 2 is out... I am trying to figure out how to shuffle some more...

Thirteen-year-old Rose Johnson is dying. She's tired of life, of pain, of hospitals and endless treatments. In short, she knows she's run out of time. She doesn't want to leave her sister, though, as they've been best friends all their lives. And Koren doesn't want to lose her sister, either.

The man their father brings to meet Rose in the hospital, offers a "cure", which Rose only truly understands when her body dies. She wakes up in a virtual Paradise, Aaru.

Koren doesn't handle the loss of her sister very well - she falls into a depression, rebels against everything in her life, and loses all hope - a devastating thing at her young age. So when her father introduces her to the man who helped her sister, Koren isn't very cooperative. Until they introduce her to Aaru, and her sister, Rose.

It's a tough moment for Koren, but she's so happy to see her sister, she agrees to become their spokesperson. Sudden stardom comes with a heavy price, which Koren doesn't have a lot of say about paying.

This one's a suspense/thriller, to be sure, but it's a lengthy and sometimes difficult read. And, I would caution parents about the suitability for their own teens. While nothing explicit happens on the page, the problems of stalkers, child pornography, sex (it doesn't happen on the page, but it does make an appearance as a problem in the story) and murder are all encompassed in the plot.

Additionally, I struggled with the author's choice of writing style - this is a personal note, and not a condemnation of Mr. Meredith's ability. He has a vast and, at times, obscure vocabulary. While this doesn't pose a barrier for me, the story is mostly told from the perspective of the teenaged sisters, and the word choices the author favors didn't quite feel authentic for the ages of the younger primary characters. They were fitting for the antagonist, however. Again, this is my own opinion of my reading experience - others might readily disagree.

All in all, I did enjoy the book. The plot, characters, and setting were all well-developed, and the conflicts and plot twists kept the story engaging. This book is for those who enjoy suspense and mystery, though I would suggest a more mature (not quite R rated) audience though, as some of the scenes might be a little too intense for younger teens.
Profile Image for Amanda.
489 reviews64 followers
July 14, 2018
The synopsis of this book piqued my interest and it definitely did not disappoint. Immortality is something that I think everyone thinks about from time to time and this book explores this possibility in a unique way of downloading your persona onto a massive super computer called “Aaru”.

The story was very well done…the writing flowed very smoothly and I was engaged from the first page to the last. It had some unexpected moments and ended in a way that would satisfy but also leaves me wanting more (book 2, Aaru, Halls of Hel is advertised to be released in 2018).

The characters were interesting. I did find it difficult to be on board with Koren being only 13 or 14 years old, based on the lack of parental supervision and some of the things that happened to her (although I realize that this does happen).

Rose was a sweet character and I loved seeing the virtual world through her eyes. I did find some of the concepts of Aaru to be a bit confusing at times but overall the world building was solid.

This is not a Christian fiction book, so there was some cursing and some references to Heaven and God that I didn’t agree with.

Overall, this was a nice change from the contemporary stories I’ve been immersed in lately. It had a mixture of many genres…fantasy, thriller, horror, mystery, and romance.

My Rating:
4 stars

I received this book from the author to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Jessica Belmont.
1,483 reviews46 followers
October 1, 2018
Aaru is told in alternating points of view between Rose and her sister, Koren. Rose has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and does not have long until the end. The beginning of Aaru struck me hard. I could feel how tired Rose is, and while she doesn’t want to die, she doesn’t want to live, bedridden anymore. Koren, her sister, is thirteen years old, and is terrified of losing her sister. This was gut wrenching to read.

Aaru is a super system created by Elysian Industeies. A place of no pain, just peace. Koren becomes a celebrity, spokes person for this place. But is everything as peaceful as it seems?

David Meredith’s writing is absolutely beautiful. He had me hooked from the very beginning, and took me through this journey that I wasn’t expecting when I opened the book. Aaru is thought provoking. What if? The theme of this entire novel – what if this were possible? Is it right or is it wrong? David Meredith has created one heck of a world, and held my attention all the way through.

I highly recommend Aaru. It has made it to my list of favorite books I’ve read this year, and I cannot wait to continue with the series. Check this one out!

*I recieved a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*
Profile Image for Brianna Remus.
Author 10 books76 followers
August 20, 2017
Aaru is absolutely riveting. Every human on this planet has wondered and questioned if there is life after death. David Meredith has created a compelling idea in which modern science is able to create an afterlife utopia that is tangible and known. Through this story, we follow Rose and her family as she fights an illness that eventually takes her life. The first few chapters raised goosebumps on my skin and brought tears to my eyes with David's description of the pain and suffering that Rose endured, as well as the grief that her parents and sister experienced while watching her demise. Rose is soon gifted with the potential of one last chance at surviving, but in a way that she could never imagine. Once she enters into the world of Aaru, readers witness the agony that her younger sister, Koren, experiences with the loss of her older sister and best friend. Rose's family soon learns about her experience after death and that she is still able to communicate with them. Although they are very skeptical of the situation, Koren especially, they agree to partake further and Koren takes on the responsibility of speaking with the public about Aaru and all of its wonders. The scene that David unveiled where the family met Rose after her death for the first time is exactly what I envision when thinking of a private corporation creating a blissful afterlife. The facility is high-tech, but cold and sterile; the individuals partaking in Aaru's creation are reflective of their environment. It was chilling to read about Rose's family meeting the creators. As the story develops, we learn that the world of Aaru is not exactly as the creators painted it out to be; we follow the characters down a rabbit hole of deception and intrigue as they navigate what this novice situation brings them. Once I began reading, it was terribly difficult to put this book down. I also began to wonder what I would do in a situation where I could still have a tangible relationship with a lost loved one. What would the costs be? David Meredith created a work of art and I am incredibly thankful to have witnessed it.
Profile Image for Alice Hill.
Author 1 book2 followers
August 12, 2017
This book was given to me, and I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it, as it’s not what I’d normally read. But almost immediately, I became engrossed and found it impossible to put down.

Rose Johnson is dying of leukaemia, and her sister Koren’s devastated. A mysterious man in a white lab coat offers a solution, and the family agree to let him try an experiment, even though Rose is too tired and ill to have any further interest in fighting her fate.

Rose dies, the family assume the experiment failed and Koren goes off the rails. When the man in the lab coat reappears, promising to reunite them with Rose, they assume it’s a sick joke. They soon change their minds. The man explains that his company, Elysian Industries, has found a way to capture the complete essence of a person, allowing them to remain alive in the cyber world of Aaru. The family can communicate with Rose via a terminal, and they’re soon convinced that the real Rose has survived.

Rose, meanwhile, finds herself in an incredibly beautiful world, with everything she could ever wish for to make her happy. She soon makes good friends, and is kept busy preparing Aaru for new arrivals. It all seems too good to be true.
Elysian Industries persuade Koren to become their spokesperson as they prepare to make Aaru commercially available to the terminally ill. She’s swept into a new lifestyle, and soon becomes a celebrity.

But Elysian Industries haven’t thought of everything. Is Aaru really safe from cyber attack? Is having everything one wants really enough to make a person happy? And what are the dangers attached to putting a young girl as attractive as Koren in the limelight?
Soon a shadowy individual whose online handle is Magic Man begins to stalk Koren, and Rose must risk everything she has and is in a desperate attempt to save her sister.

Author David Meredith has created a set of lively characters, and he describes Aaru with stunning imagery. His choice of words is beautifully poetic as he brings his world to life. I enjoyed this book on many levels. The story is gripping and entertaining and the language is a pleasure to read. At the same time, David raises several ethical questions that keep the reader thinking. Like all the best authors, he doesn’t force his own views, but rather leaves the reader to make up his or her own mind.

I would highly recommend this book, both to those who read purely for entertainment, and to those who like their books to provide food for thought.
Profile Image for Abi Pellinor.
469 reviews54 followers
October 2, 2018
Have you heard of this book? I hadn't until the author contacted me and asked if I would review the book. I read the synopsis and thought that it sounded like a really interesting concept, so I said yes. It's a dystopian book, about the possibility of storing the consciousness of an individual (whether alive or dead, as long as they had their data collected before their death) in a utopian world. Our main two characters are sisters, with one who has leukemia and is likely to pass away soon and the other is her younger sister and agrees to be the face of this new company in return for her sister being "saved" within this system.

I will say, that the beginning third of this book wasn't great. The concept was still interesting but the writing wasn't good enough to carry the story and I was feeling disappointed. However, I'm really glad I carried on with the book as the end two-thirds of the book are done so well and I was fully absorbed. The writing improves vastly and I was so invested in the events, that when I finished the story I knew I needed to read Halls of Hel!

I still maintain that the beginning of this book could be improved, there's a lot of information in there that is essential to the rest of the book so the content is important. However, the writing could be more engaging and I worry that others may be put off and not reach the more intriguing sections.

Overall, I think you should give this book a shot and be prepared to not fully click with the first section. Just be aware that it gets so, so interesting (and you could be the opposite of me and adore the whole thing) so give it a shot! I'm happy to add this to my collection!

Have you heard of and/or read this book? I'd be interested to know how many people know of this already!

From my blog: autumnofpellinor.wordpress.com
Profile Image for K.S. Agustin.
Author 1 book
July 29, 2017
Aaru is the first book in the Aaru Cycle series written by David Meredith.

Rose is extremely sick. In fact, she is dying. She wants nothing more than for death to claim her and for the pain and agony, she has endured for years, to stop. But her sister Koren would not let go. Not just yet. So, Rose agrees to try one final attempt to save her life, and that is to upload her mind to a super computer called Aaru.

Aaru is a virtual world where the residents can live forever, free of pain, sickness and death. It is developed by Elysian Industries ‘to allow the truly great members of the human race to continue their work of advancing mankind’ and to save unfortunate children, like Rose, from pain, misery and death.

Now, Elysian Industries is offering this virtual paradise to those who can afford it and with sweet, innocent and beautiful Koren as the spokesperson, Aaru is trending on social media and getting the attention of not only prospective clients but also of moralists and degenerates.

This is a very interesting book with a very timely subject. It actually reminds me of the movies Transcendence and Chappie but more creative since it also presents the virtual world from the inside. The book is told in alternate settings between Koren in the physical world and Rose in the virtual world. It features multiple issues including immortality, familial relationship, fame, obsession and cyber crime.

I like everything about the book and I enjoyed it a lot especially the suspense part which actually brings up the dangers lurking in the internet. Can't wait for the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Erica Robyn Metcalf.
1,156 reviews61 followers
October 3, 2017
When I saw one of my favorite book bloggers, Lauren of Always Me, review this book, I immediately wanted to give it a go!

Click here to check out Laurens review.

Luckily, soon after I had commented on her blog, the author reached out and offered me an honest review exchange. Needless to say, I in as soon as I could!

Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my rating in any way.

My thoughts:
I have to admit, it took me quite a while to really get invested in this story...

But when I hit the 50% mark, I could not put this book down! I did not see the turn that was going to be taken, and it totally threw me. To be totally honest, I wasn't planning on reading the rest of the series until that point. But now, I definitely need to know what happens next!

Beware, the negatives:
Three quick things (all of which could simply be a result of my busy personal life, I'll have to reread sometime to figure that out!):

1) Like I said above, the first half of the book was a little slow to me.
2) I found the writing to be a bit repetitive, especially when it came to explaining Aaru.
3) I felt a bit of a disconnect with the dialogue; to me it seemed a bit forced rather than totally natural at times.

My favorite passages:
…being together started to feel easy. It was these moments of tranquil serenity that Rose liked best- the times when Franco let his guard down and allowed her to get a glimpse of what was inside.

There was no point in wasting her breath. She could read her parents like painted signs. They wanted this and were determined to turn a deaf ear to any complaint…

It was a cool morning with lingering fog, but it was not at all unpleasant. It was one of those mornings that contained an underlying promise, an aura of hopefulness that Koren could just tell, will be realized in a glorious, sunny day.

My final thoughts:
The main storyline of this book will definitely stick with me for quite some time! I highly recommend this for readers that enjoy slow-burning stories that suddenly take a sharp twist that will totally captivate you!

And phew, what a good series opener this is! I am quite excited to see where the rest of the series goes!
February 9, 2018
I received a copy of this novel via the author in exchange for an honest review.

This novel started off kind of like From a Distant Star, in the way that I knew for a fact I had never read anything like it before. That held true to the very end. It evoked many different emotions, and I’m still not sure how I feel… other than I know that I really, really liked it. I’m not sure that I would’ve picked this book up off the shelf on my own, but I am definitely glad the author provided me with the opportunity to read it and I definitely recommend it to any one looking for a fast-paced read.

I really liked the dual perspective. We started with Rose’s “dilema”, I guess you could say, and transitioned to Koren’s throughout. Although the girls lost touch with each other, we did not lose touch with either of them. We got to experience new aspects to their world with each respective girl.

I know why we didn’t, but I wish we could’ve spent more time in Aaru. I feel like the setting the author creates there is absolutely mind blowing. This novel quite honestly could’ve been set there the whole time and I would’ve been content. I would definitely like to see a more in depth look into it in the next novel or even a separate novel set in only in Aaru.

I did notice a few errors in punctuation, which who am I to talk really, but it wasn’t so bad or so frequent that it deterred me. It was mainly just quotation marks a few times throughout in the wrong spot. There are triggers in this novel, and unfortunately, I don’t think any of the other reviews I read, except maybe one, really put that out there. I wasn’t expecting it, so for others, there are scenes with intent to rape, pedophilia, sexual assault, and kidnapping.

I said it above and I’ll say it again, if you’re looking for something unlike anything you’ve ever read before, CHECK OUT AARU.

Check out this review on my blog: https://tiffanyreadsalot.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Felicitia.
172 reviews13 followers
July 27, 2017
I recieved a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

I love stories that make me feel, remember about things that matter in real life despite it being fictional. And this book is definitely it. David Meredith succeeded in bringing me (and most probably a lot of the other readers as well) to tears. The heartbreak, pain, loss and hope in this story felt so honest and well written that I just can't help imagining myself being in that position.

Great concept, great character development, great writing style. Definitely (highly) recommended!
Profile Image for Angie Gallion.
Author 7 books31 followers
September 27, 2017
David Meredith's novel Aaru, sets the stage by putting us in the mind of a child dying of leukemia. It is brutal, her suffering, and Meredith does a very good job of displaying all the many emotions, from anger and grief to regret and finally acceptance. His young protagonists, and there are two, Rose, the dying girl and her younger sister, Koran, are distinct and different. They are nicely portrayed.

As I got into this novel I found that it was not what I expected. I thought it was young adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy when I first started reading, but it really settles itself nicely in the New Adult/College category. It is complex and has very heavy questions and situations. It is a book for thinking, and it certainly made me think. The story line is delves into the concepts of immortality, exploitation, obsessive behavior, and the fallacy of good intentions. What if our consciousness could be retained after our bodies failed? What would it mean to have neverending life in a utopic and multidimensional space? What are the consequences of children being dressed up and displayed to adult audiences for mass consumption. What are the responsibilities of parents to their children? Who's job is it to protect them? Is it acceptable for an adult to attack, verbally and with malicious intent, a child because they represent something they oppose? I found Meredith's spot on portrayal of the power of social media in our lives intensely disturbing.

The girls' progress after Rose's death and ascent to Aaru in very different fashions. Rose learns the intracacies of Aaru and Koran becomes a spokesmodel for the company Elysian Industries, the developer of Aaru. She is barely a child herself but is exploited in the most abhorant ways. She is dressed in seductive clothing, she is in "showbiz" now and everybody, including her self serving parents, encourage her to go along with it because that's the way it is done in "showbiz." I don't know if Meredith intended to make a commentary of the exploitation of children in marketing, but it rang a loud and strong chord with me. I have a daughter who wants to act in all of the Disney shows, Jessie, Bunk'd, the Descendants, and I'm sure the camera would love her and I know she can put on a good show, but it's an industry that chews people up and the idea of putting her anywhere near it is terrifying.

Koran, and by extension, Rose, ends up with a stalker, a terrifyingly plausible creation. Meredith writes this book in the thrid person but does a good job of putting you inside the mind of his characters. Magic Man made my skin crawl and I wanted nothing more than to get out of the inside of his head. Rose grows and develops inside Aaru, developing frindships with others there. Koran transforms in giant leaps and bounds and ultimately is more adult that either of her parents. Bill and Gypsy Johnson are self-serving to the end and I was grateful that I didn't have to spend any time inside of their heads, because I wanted to slap them every time they justified what was being asked of their young daughter because it met their needs.

There is a lot of information in Meredith's Aaru and his explanations leave you believing that all of this could be possible. He provides a lot of information within the framework of conversations or interviews, and I found myself more than once straying from his print to actually imagine what he was explaining. It's a great jumping off point for a number of concepts. What are the consequences of man playing God? What would be possible if death were no longer part of the equation? How would the created environment succeed and where would it fail. Meredith has thought through all of these questions and much more.
Profile Image for Steph Warren.
1,261 reviews22 followers
August 5, 2017
*I received a free ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.*

Writing this review fresh from finishing Aaru I find myself uncharacteristically at a loss for how to describe it. I really liked it, but was left with a confused impression of what the book was about and what story it was telling. The cover suggests a horror story, and the theme of virtual reality certainly wouldn’t preclude that, but this is not a horror story. Nor is as uncomplicated as suggested by the blurb, which prompts the assumption that Elysian Industries are the antagonists with a secret agenda (this may still prove to be the case, but in the novel the ‘system’ turns out to be made up of different individuals with their own motivations, much as in real life).

The plot involves sci-fi elements, and the setting of Aaru itself is all fantasy, but there are als aspects of action-thriller in the tech-stalking storyline. The portrayal of both the teen-romance and the parental characters (ciphers unfortunately, one ‘angry drunk’ and one ‘religious automaton’, but neither with much individuality) put me in mind of YA fiction, and the focus on a pre-teen main character’s journey seemingly confirmed that. But then the graphic Magic Man sections, with their paedophilia and rape fantasies, would generally mark this adult fiction in my opinion.

Also there are many themes explored here: religion (or lack thereof); what makes a person ‘me’; the ethics of a virtual afterlife. The author does not try to oversimplify these issues either; just as I thought I had grasped the authorial stance on an afterlife, the perspective flipped and I realised that I was being presented with the differing sides to the argument, but with no definitive right or wrong (except for Magic Man of course. He is ALL wrong!).

There is obviously a lot of thought about death and bereavement, and the author presents this in all of it’s raw, beautiful, unglamour. The pain and distress feels authentic and (from the reviews I have seen) resonates strongly with readers who have experienced devastating loss. As does the ray of hope that Aaru represents for the soothing of death’s sting.

Overall it struck me that this setting, and these characters, have so much potential that the author simply has so many great stories to tell here that the book is bursting with them. And whilst making it trickier for me to pigeonhole it neatly, that is also the book’s strongest selling point. As I said at the start, despite or perhaps because of the genre confusion, I really really liked Aaru and on finishing it I immediately checked whether the author had released the next installment yet.

The ideas are presented in a fresh new way, and the possibilities for the plot and character development are very exciting. Rose and Koren are both engaging protagonists, and their reactions are natural, whilst not always predictable. There are so many issues here yet to explore, and so many questions still to answer, that I have very high expectations for the rest of the series.

Confounding a reader’s genre expectations is a risky business, as it has high odds of leading to disappointment, but when done well it always leads to the kind of books that stay with you afterwards. I have a feeling that the Aaru Cycle may well fall into this category.
Profile Image for Jolie.
1,508 reviews36 followers
August 14, 2017
As most of you know, if you have been long time followers of my blog, one of my favorite genres of books to read is YA. So when David Meredith approached me to review Aaru, I jumped on it. What drew me to this book was the storyline. It is original and I couldn’t wait to see where David was going to go with it. I wasn’t disappointed!! Aaru was everything I expected and then some.

Rose was a tragic character. Diagnosed with leukemia, she was in the hospital waiting to die. It was there she was presented with a weird but intriguing idea. What if someone could take a scan of your brain, put it in a computer and you will live forever once you die? Would you do it? She did and when she did die, she woke up in Aaru, a land where everything and anything is possible. A land where you couldn’t get sick, you could die and you could live forever. Sounds perfect and it was for Rose. The only thing was that she was missing her family, mostly her younger sister, Koren.

Koren had a very hard time after Rose died. She died her hair black and was lashing out at her parents. Then the day came when Elysian’s Industries brought them to their compound and showed them the unbelievable. Rose’s essence, her personality, was alive in a program called Aaru. Koren, who at first disbelieved what she was seeing, was brought to her knees when she realized that she was seeing Rose in the window. What happens next sets the tone for the rest of the book.

I enjoyed reading this book, even if it made me a little sad at times. My brother, Michael, passed away 10 years ago at 24. I could relate to Koren’s grief and then her elation at being able to talk to Rose again. I know I would have had the same feelings.

The two storylines, Koren’s and Rose’s, were so different. I had no problem keeping them apart. Koren was a spokesperson for Aaru and being in the public eye, she attracted some unsavory characters. Meanwhile, Rose was realizing that immortality isn’t what she thought it would be.

The bad guy in the book, the Magic Man, was a creepy guy. He was obsessed with Koren. He operated a soft porn fan site where he was photoshop her face over the models. It was very creepy to see the lengths he was willing to go through to have her be with him. I got shivers reading about him.

The end of the story was interesting. None of the storylines were wrapped up. In fact, I have a feeling that the Magic Man is going to play a huge part in book 2. I am very excited to read book 2. I have questions that need to be answered. Mainly, who is Magic Man??

My summary of Aaru: 4 stars

I enjoyed reading Aaru. It demanded my complete attention from the minute I started the book. The plotline was fantastic, the characters were memorable and I loved the idea of Aaru.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Older Teen

Why: Sexual situations (Rose has sex but no details are given) and violence. There is a graphic scene of Koren being held in the Magic Man’s house

I would like to thank David Meredith for allowing me to review Aaru

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**
Profile Image for Tyler J Gray.
Author 2 books219 followers
August 26, 2017
Actual Rating: 3.75

Read this full review and more on my blog!

I received this copy from David Meredith in exchange for my honest review.

This book really did tug at my heart strings. It starts off with Rose dying in the hospital thanks to Leukemia. While I have never had Leukemia so I understand it's different, having been born with vacterl association, among other things, living disabled and with chronic pain, and often being in the hospital for one surgery or another, I was able to relate to Rose in ways. In how she felt and the things she thought, I've had those same feelings and thoughts. And I don't think i've ever seen them written so plainly in a book before.

Even though Rose's body dies, they scan her brain beforehand so she can live on in Aaru, still able to communicate with others like her sister Koren and their parents. Her essence living on in basically a huge computer. What would you do if you could communicate with a loved one after death, their essence living on, able to talk to you through data in a computer, through a computer screen you could see each other? Sound too much like blasphemy? Playing God? Would you think it's a wonderful future, essentially conquering death once and for all? What about their soul? Is it truly them?

Since Rose is the first to really experience it, Koren is asked to be a spokesperson for Aaru, to help spread the word, and at just 13 years old becomes a celebrity. Both Rose and Koren have POV's. Not everyone is happy with Aaru but Koren does get many fans. The life of a young celebrity isn't exactly easy though. Even among her fans not everyone is...well good.

This tackles questions of life and death, of what it means to be alive, of being a celebrity and young.

I had a couple issues with it but over all did enjoy it. My issues having to do with Koren's mother slapping her and that never being mentioned as not ok, despite the situation. Even though I could understand her mother's feelings it isn't ok to slap your 13 year old child. One case of the r-word and a thing with Jonas (Koren's celebrity crush that she does end up meeting) that I don't want to spoil but left a bad taste in my mouth. Though about that last thing I did like that Koren does act like the young teenager that she is. I have nothing against the way she acted and thought, I could understand that having once been a teenager myself. I just don't want to spoil it..

I loved the characters and the writing had me flying across the pages while I was reading it, desperate to know what happened next. I cried and felt many emotions while reading. I loved the conversations about life, death, being sick, the way people treat you and the things they say when your chronically ill that I related so much too, and the role religion played. There were people of different religions and ethnicities in Aaru and that played a part in how they felt about it.

I am glad to have read this and am looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

My Booktube Channel
January 21, 2018
Full review on Stellar Kitten Book Reviews:


❝ Before. Yes, there was that word again. Rose did not like that word anymore. It implied both that everything good was well past and that nothing more of value was to come. She had had interests once, dreams even, but all of those were before–Before she was sick, before she had ever heard the word “leukemia”, before the sum of her existence had turned into a revolving door of monotonous boredom interspersed with periods of crippling pain–Before her whole life had simply stopped.❞

Many thanks to the author for sending me a copy of Aaru!

I’m going to just go ahead and say that I really love the cover for this book! Although it gave off a little bit of a zombie-apocalypse vibe to me at first, haha. Still, I really like the simplicity of it and I think it definitely hints at the trouble that Koren faces in the book.

I really enjoyed the beginning of the book because it made me sympathize with Rose and Koren’s situation. The sibling aspect of the book was one of the elements I liked most about the book. I like their reunions and how they looked out for one another even when they were no longer together.

I connected to Rose right away in that I was rooting for her to make it through, to find a way to live on. She started off very bitter and cynical which was understandable, but she was also kind of ready to give up. In the end, it was her love for her sister, Koren, that convinced her to try just one more time.

Her chapters were set in the world of Aaru and they were kind of focused around her adjusting to her new way of life. She struggled to come to terms with what it meant to live in Aaru, who it made her. She also had her own group of friends that brought their own unique perspectives to the table. In fact, the diversity of the characters was very refreshing and another aspect I enjoyed as well. It was also centered around her work as a Veda, including some embarassing and scary discoveries in terms of bugs with the system.

❝ Koren felt like she had been hijacked by her childhood pastimes and made into a living Barbie doll. Her time was never her own any longer. It seemed like there was always someone around to tell her where to be, what to wear, what and when to eat, when to sleep, and when to wake up and do it all over again.❞

As for Koren, her chapters revolved around the whirlwind of interviews, commercials, and appearances she made as Elysian Industries’ new spokesperson. With her new contract her family wants for nothing, and she should have all the time in the world to enjoy with the sister she thought she’d lost forever, but she finds herself sucked into the celebrity world. She struggles to ____ her public image with the person she is in private. Not only that, but she soon discovers the ugly and dangerous side of being in the spotlight.

I actually really enjoyed Koren’s perspective/chapters because I think she faced some very realistic obstacles considering Elysian Industries’ new technology. Many good points were brought up by those opposed to Aaru and I found the material to be very thought provoking. I also enjoyed the other big “villain” that lurked in the shadows, Magic Man. I think it was a different kind of danger that neither the reader nor Elysian Industries’ staff really saw coming. At least, I didn’t expect such a dark turn.

And finally, I think the ending was well-written. It answered some questions, but left the door open for so much more drama to come in the next installment of this series. I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens next to these two sisters and seeing how the world of Aaru evolves!
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