Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book: UnderHeaven by Tim Greaton

I'm taking off a star for typos and errata that could easily have been picked up by one more solid run-through by a proofreader/editor. The chronic overuse of commas in multiple-adjective descriptions comes to mind. Those commas slowed down my reading, taking me out of the story pretty seriously a couple of times, and just generally being annoying.

I read Mr. Greaton's short story The Santa Workshop and enjoyed it mildly - could have enjoyed it a lot more without the errors and typos. It was an interesting premise but too pat for me. At any rate, in the "back" of this Kindle purchase was an excerpt from Under-Heaven. I really got hooked into the story and wanted to read more. Luckily for me, Mr. Greaton had it for sale at 99 cents. I probably could not have afforded it otherwise, and frankly it's worth more.

This was a very long story about a young man's life after he dies. It's complex, with thorough descriptions and good characterization, and even some history thrown in for good measure. Parts of the story dragged a bit. After all, I really didn't need to know what the boy did every single minute of every single day the first few weeks in his temporary home. Those parts were over relatively quickly, though, and the rest of the book sucked me in and kept me reading well past my bedtime for several nights.

Despite some other reviewers claims, I did not find this book overly religious, and I'm not a christian. It was an interesting exploration into what happens after a person dies, from an individual child's point of view. There was no proselytizing or pushy imagery. I would call the premise spiritual rather than religious.

The young boy's life in Under-heaven is alternated periodically with the story of another young man who's holding out hope that his parents get back together. Descriptions of an addict's behavior were spot-on, and the parts of the story told from a five-year-old's point of view were true to the character's age without being simplistic or simple-minded.

The two stories are connected, though I didn't realize it until about halfway through the book. HOW they are connected was not what I expected, and yet, it was appropriate and made sense.

I devoured this book more than I enjoyed it, and it's the kind of book that if I owned it in print, I would probably keep it on my shelf and reread every few years to pick up on something new. The plot was full-tilt right up until the big reveal, after which the book ended pretty quickly with a slightly lame wrap-up that was inconsistent with some of the characters I'd come to know while reading. And, just fair warning, it's not a happily every after. It's a happily enough for now.