Ember and Ness are best friends, completely inseparable. Ember can't imagine what life would be without Ness. Until Ness dies, in a most sudden and unexpected way. Ember feels completely empty. How can this even be real?
Then Ember finds a way into the after world - a place where the recently dead reside. She knows there must be a way to bring Ness back, so she decides to find it. Because that's what friends do: rescue each other. But the after world holds its own dangers. How far will Ember go to make things the way they were again?
Paired with enchanting illustrations from Emily Gravett, A. F. Harrold's powerfully woven tale explores the lengths we go to for the people we love.
What I expected to get out of reading this book, a fun distraction for however long I was able to sit and read it, was not at all what I got and it is hard to really express just what I feel about this book having turned the last page and read the last sentence. If you do read this and get as caught up in the story as I did, read the prologue again, because I had forgotten what happened but once I reread it I had an ah-ha moment and it gave the book a slightly sweeter ending. The book centers on Ember, so whilst we know Ness has a big family, Ember is the key character here.
The book is well paced, there were no moments that felt unnecessarily rushed and it never felt like it slowed down too much. The idea of this is that the Afterworld is where you go to forget your life before turning to dust and moving on, I guess. I found this quite a good take on it and liked how different creatures stuck around for different lengths of time, with humans hanging around for the longest. There is a cat, who can move between the two as well as an enigmatic woman who seems to run the afterworld to a point and can have an effect on those who are living.
It's not an uncommon theme that in order to take someone out of the land of the dead, you must replace them with something living. This throws in some morally questionable moments when Ember is offered up as a sacrifice (when she first learns of the Afterworlds existence) and then later when she is desperate to take her friend out of there. This book continuously raise the question of just how far are you willing to go to bring back someone you care for? Whilst I can't say that I would re-read this, it's not a book filled with excitement or fuzzy feelings, I'm glad I read it and I would recommend it to others.
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Kristian Wilson, Nintendo, Inc, 1989