If you could choose one person to bring back to life, who would it be? Seventeen-year-old Lake Deveraux is the survivor of a car crash that killed her best friend and boyfriend. Now she faces an impossible choice. Resurrection technology changed the world, but strict laws allow just one resurrection per citizen, to be used on your eighteenth birthday or lost forever. You only have days to decide. For each grieving family, Lake is the best chance to bring back their child. For Lake, it’s the only way to reclaim a piece of happiness after her own family fell apart. And Lake must also grapple with a secret–and illegal–vow she made years ago to resurrect someone else. Someone who’s not even dead yet. Who do you need most? As Lake’s eighteenth birthday nears, secrets and betrayals new and old threaten to eclipse her cherished memories. Lake has one chance to save a life…but can she live with her choice?
This is Not the End by Chandler Baker
If you’re looking for something super sci-fi and devious, this is not for you. More contemporary than anything else, This is Not the End by Chandler Baker is a very interesting YA book that I initially disliked but really ended up enjoying it by the end. The reasons for which will likely be made in a spoiler vlog in the next day or two. That said, yes, there is something devious, and yes, there is a kernel of sci-fi, but where the heart of the story lies is with Lake facing her truths and the truths of expectations unknowingly placed.
The premise, I have to be honest, feels a little flawed. That there is a procedure that can bring people back to life, but can’t actually be modified to help the living is weird. I know, sci-fi, suspension of belief, but there has to be something there to make it rational, and for me there wasn’t. Then, to limit that choice of resurrection to someone on their 18th birthday and only then, is just weird and feels arbitrary. Why 18? I suppose, for the story’s sake, it needs to be 18, but in general, it just doesn’t seem realistic.
Aside from the unrealistic premise, the story was actually really, really good! I was completely absorbed by it, right there with Lake trying to decide WHO she should resurrect, and then trying to figure out WHAT was actually going on. I had figured out a major spoiler fairly early on, but Baker still managed to surprise me with it as I hadn’t guessed the entire truth. Untangling the relationships Lake has with her family, friends, and boyfriend was well written. It felt so realistic, which is what ultimately won me over — because I could see these characters as actual people and actual situations.
Ultimately, This is Not the End by Chandler Baker isn’t about a cool sci-fi premise, or about some shadowy black market world. It’s about people, relationships, and how they all face their traumas and deal with the repercussions. Solid pacing, good use of the dual time framing technique, and incredibly human characters all make this a solid recommendation from me.