So little by little, I've been making my way through a long "to read" list; most of which is made up of books recommended to me by a librarian friend of mine. One novel that got high marks from her was this one in particular. The plot sounded fun and interesting, and after enjoying Dan Gilvezan's book "Soul", I was excited to hear another author's interpretation of the afterlife.
Sadly, this is one situation where a book, no matter how much I wanted to like it, just didn't "gel" with me. It gets points for creativity, but at many turns, it can be downright uncomfortable to get through.
Lana Harvey is an 8th generation "reaper"--not THE Grim Reaper (he's the boss), but one of many reapers tasked with collecting souls and transporting them to one of many versions of the afterlife that best suits the soul. Eternity, as it turns out, is a place where all faiths, from Christianity, to Islamic, to Chinese, to Greek, to Egyptian, all co-exist after death. A treaty has kept them peaceful and cooperative. Lana makes it no secret that she hates her job and collects the bare minimum amount of souls to stay employed, while occasionally bending the rules to give souls a better afterlife. But her normal "clock in/clock out" existence is soon rattled when Grim suddenly gives her a promotion--tasking her with finding a very special soul in particular. And when she's soon attacked by demons and dealing with gods, angels, demons, and spirits plotting and scheming behind the scenes, Lana will come to discover that she's no ordinary reaper....and that the fate of Eternity is in her hands.
This novel, I feel, is one of the best examples of a "mixed bag". For every good thing it does, there's something equally weird or cringe-worthy to go against it. Really, the best part of the book is Lana herself. She can be a bit frosty to people and will look for any excuse to get out of doing work, but she's never outright nasty to anyone and DOES care for her small circle of friends (including an angel and (later) demon boyfriend, two hellhounds, a no-nonsense fellow reaper, and her young apprentice that was unceremoniously dumped on her). And once she gets unwillingly swept up in all the political intrigue, it's easy to feel just as frustrated as she does.
As for Eternity, it's a well-thought out setting that's really interesting in how it works, with different religions having their own section of the afterlife and mingling with each other. Having prior knowledge of some of these myths and sections of faith helps, but it isn't required--they're all explained clear enough to follow along. However, with a large chunk of the book being devoted to world building, it comes at the sacrifice of having the real plot take a long time to get going. The few "action scenes" are executed well, but you'll have to sit through a ton of scenes of the characters dating, going on shopping sprees, and planning their vacation trip to Hell (literally, not figuratively).
And admittedly, this mixing of beliefs and attempts at dark comedy can make certain scenes uncomfortable, like archangel Gabriel getting a demon girlfriend, or Jesus coming to a party where Egyptian gods and the Devil himself is also in attendance, or the Holy Spirit actually being called "Holly Spirit" and chewing out a confused soul with lines like, "I'll talk to my brother [God] however I damn want." Though it also leads to some admittedly funny moments, like Lana dealing with the recently deceased and their endless questions, and dialogue like, "I can't die yet! I got a casserole in the oven!" I'm all for equality and religious freedom....just....be prepared to have a REALLY open mind going into this.
While there was enough to keep me going until the end, I've found this book (and series) just isn't for me. It's definitely for certain tastes. If you like weird and quirky settings, dark comedy, and don't mind seeing virtually every religion turned on its head, then by all means, give it a go.