Title: Aaru (The Aaru Cycle Book 1)
Published: 10th July 2017
Author: David Meredith
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.
Goes down as another off my 2019 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book by a male author. A book about death, childhood loss and finding new ways of coping with changes happening around you. What if you didn’t need to say goodbye? Would you like your mind to live forever in nothing more than a computer world you can create things in if it meant you could stay – in a way – with the ones you loved?
Rose is sixteen and has almost come to terms with the fact that her time is almost up. She has leukemia and with time running out she needs a miracle of some sort. Her younger sister Koren, just a child herself at thirteen, isn’t ready to let her go, let alone their parents. The miracle they have been looking for comes in the form of Mr. Adams. He wants to help Rose in a way others haven’t managed before. She is reluctant at first but agrees to try one last thing. If it fails then she’s ready to let go, as she is just so tired of fighting and wants some peace. He starts with scanning her brain and then having sensors put on her head while she’s asked to think of happy thoughts. Her emotional output is key for this to work. She’s not sure what this will do but gives it a try hoping he will explain later. It’s not long before she feels herself left in the dark, quite literally, her fight with her body might be lost but what comes next?
When Rose’s mind wakes up she is in a virtual world and is greeted by Lady Hana of Tenkoku, who calls Rose her Veda. Within this world she soon sees that if they think of something it happens – like clothes to change into, buildings or plants to grow. The kingdom is a blank canvas for them to create a world to live in. There are ten kingdoms within Aaru, each with a Lord and Lady. Lord Mikoto of Tenkoku deals with security in their kingdom. His new Veda Franco seems to have been forgotten a little by him so he gets Hana to train him alongside Rose. It’s not long before other Vedas start to appear, all creating more within their kingdoms waiting for residents to arrive when the system goes live. Is all really happy in this make believe world though?
The Aaru world seems unbelievable to most outsiders and none more so than Rose’s family, especially her sister Koren who hasn’t been handling her sisters death very well. They are brought to the facility to be shown that they did “save” Rose. Her mind was essentially downloaded – memories, thoughts, emotions etc – into Aaru as a way to cheat death. Will it really be her though? Koren is asked to go towards a computer and call out her sister’s name. When Rose comes to the screen it’s enough to knock them all over, this is the proof that Elysian Industries needed them to see. Now that they have they want to use Koren to help sell the idea of Aaru to the US market. A young pretty face that they can doll up to their own means to get the job done. But how far are they willing to go to sexualize this child for their product? What will be the consequences for when they do?
Aaru seems like the perfect place to live in but there are those that are troubled by what it means to be there. They are told to be happy and most seem to be but when they have thoughts or memories that turn darker they seem to be stopped. You can think of them like a story but not really feel the emotions that go with them. Almost like the system won’t allow you. With this being a programme you have to wonder what fail safes are in place, not only to protect its residents mental wellbeing but also their safety. Computer programmes can always be hacked, dangers are out there that can’t always be seen.
These dangers come in the form of Magic Man, a character used to create a darker side to the story. He is an online predator who takes an unhealthy obsession with Koren. Hacking into systems to get videos and images of her to feed his needs. That’s just the start with his plans. If he can hack a live feed how long before he tries to get into Aaru? The system might have many fail safes in place but is anyone really safe when predators are at bay?
There was an interesting twist with a character at the end that you won’t see coming. Setting it up for what’s to come and how both worlds will collide are an interesting concept. The story was well written with interesting ideas but I felt that some of the content turned me off the story. Had I been more aware of the darker theme content to begin with then I might have been better prepared. I do feel because of this that there should really be a content warning due to sensitive subjects within like stalking, paedophilia, child pornography and exploitation.
3 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.