Ismael’s disbelief in the existence of Hell and Paradise is contested by otherworldly beings who require him to play a part in their revolution. He is the key to upturning a futuristic, dystopian society, a place of extremist power; so that it may once again revert to normality. The path to fulfilling such a responsibility is one filled with great restraint and dedication. He leaves his home in America, only to head back to his birthplace and realize just how depraved it has become. Trying to set aside his rational thinking, Ismael finds himself in parallel realms, surrounded by oddities and species as mind boggling as the other.
The plot was intriguing enough to make me want to read it asap! For the longest time, I believed that this book could end up as a great success, but somehow along the way, the character of Ismael ruined it all. I loved how imaginative and descriptive the writing style is. Although the ideals of Hell and Heaven are cliches, they are portrayed with such emphasis that you begin to absorb it easily. Even the plot is extraordinary and brave. To take a concept that could very well be considered sensitive or problematic and turn it into a story of magic realism is applaudable indeed. Since I have a keen affinity for that which challenges the notions of normal and acceptable, I was really hoping to love this novel. You get certain Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood-esque vibes in the beginning, which was what kept me going. The elements of a dystopian society were penned down exceptionally well, to such a degree in fact as to warn the readers of what could possibly occur in the future.
This novel has some very strong themes, such as intolerance, gory violence, sexual content. Moving on to the aspect of the novel that prevented me from finishing it – Ismael. Initially, his character is depicted to be just like any other protagonist, suffering from family and financial troubles, opinionated and skeptical about strangers. On a whim, he happens to sign up for an Ayahuasca ceremony (a drug induced “trip”) that introduces him to an agent of another realm. Fast forward a few days and Ismael has followed instructions by an anonymous person, asking him to move back to his childhood home. It is from there, that we get the glimpse of an inconsistent character. Just his thoughts and actions didn’t really line up, therefore making him rather unlikeable. I found myself trying to set aside my thoughts about Ismael, just so I could get to the end of the book, but after a point it got too much. I seem to be amongst the very few who couldn’t digest this story, so by all means, give it a try.
What do you get out of it? A glimpse into a scary future. It also encourages thinking outside the box, which is essential in order to have a broader mind.
Ratings – 1 out of 5 stars
Thank you Writers Melon and HarperCollins India for sending me this book in exchange for a review.