I debated whether to actually review this, since it touches on elements of spirituality some might find controversial, but there are a few points worth sharing that made me decide to move forward. I found this on Smashwords’ top 100 list and was curious that a book that self-categorized into the “visionary and mystical” realm would do so well. When the blurb mentioned past lives, then, I decided I should read for myself what had enticed enough readers to download and rate it so highly.
The first half, in particular was a slow trudge for me, and it took unusually long for me to finish the book (in fairness, partly because it’s still easy for me to lose track of an eBook, particularly when what I’ve read of it is forgettable). And the first half of this was forgettable. It was written in an almost preachy passive voice that made it very difficult to connect with the two young protagonists. And starting with their deaths and moving through dimensions–a tricky description to handle in any case, let alone as a third-person narrator–didn’t make it any easier of a task for Noell.
If you get past all that, though, the action does pick up, and the story becomes quite engaging. I read the second half in the matter of a few hours, and kept reading portions aloud to Joe as they pointed a spiritual way forward through difficult times. Even here, though, the author seems to approach the story in what I would describe as a “kitchen sink” fashion, throwing in references to conspiracy theories about Nicola Tesla, HAARP, secret government installations, and any other of a number of fringe elements.
The past life elements–the main driver of the story–could even be taken as an almost deus ex machina path out of several dire circumstances… if you don’t buy into the philosophical treatise Noell outlines throughout the book. Toward the end of her narrative, she finally masters the delicate art of conveying information less via narration, and more through the interactions between her characters. I suspect she and I share similar beliefs, based on some of the statements she makes on her website, but wonder whether she might not be a better motivational speaker than fiction author, given her rather Naïve art style. Nonetheless, I have to thank her for writing the following paragraphs:
“Do you know what these newly ‘free’ men did? They worked harder, pulled more stones, and completed jobs faster than they ever had before, their dreams now aligned with the priests’. Because you see, the true genius of the high priest’s plan was that by setting the slaves free of their captors, he saw that they would ultimately enslave themselves… for that was the only life they knew; that was just the way things were.”
“As time went by, gold was gradually replaced by nothing more than numbers and bits of paper. But that paper represented the gold in more ways than one – the hypnotic suggestion that this paper had value was so deeply engrained that no one questioned the fact that they were still functioning as slaves… and everything they desired in the material world came at the price of their own freedom.
“Mankind was then disconnected through many different forms of religion. And one of the most clever things the priests did was to create icons… a symbol that instantly delivers a message far beyond what words can express. These icons represented the Divine or people who were saints. And people would stare at these images… sometimes with love and reverence, but more often than not, they stared at the icon while holding a powerful image of themselves as unworthy, as a lowly sinner…”
We’re still getting a lot of exposition as a reader, this time from the past self of one of the main characters, but the context is just intriguing enough to open the reader to the possibility that they, themselves, might be enslaved to something so fundamental to our current society. For that, I have to say that if you’ve considered self-help books, but don’t like non-fiction ways of addressing self-improvement, this may be a good stepping stone to help you move forward. And that assessment is likely why there are so many willing on Smashwords to give a 5-star rating to a book that at best deserves 3 stars for its writing.