- Paperback: 282 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 26, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1508681910
- ISBN-13: 978-1508681915
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,157,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Soul: A Novel Paperback – April 26, 2015
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"...a satisfying mix of action, suspense, and even some hijinks. The last chapter, in particular, will make readers consider what human existence would mean if all of one's memories were inherited from another person." -- Kirkus Reviews
From the Back Cover
Meet Jack Tyler, a 39 year old insurance underwriter from Columbus, Ohio. A seemingly normal human being leading a normal life. But Jack has a secret. He's not the same Jack Tyler he used to be. During a near-death experience Jack's original soul has been replaced by another. A soul who's job it is to find the reason for the worldwide pandemic that's caused every woman on Earth to become infertile. Armed with limited facts about his new life, our fish-out-of-water soul must first discover exactly who he is, who his friends are, his enemies, how to perform his job, a myriad of details necessary for him to appear to be the person he is not. Then there's the little matter of the plague that has effectively sterilized the human race. A mission that takes him from his comfortable Ohio home to the wilds of the Hunan province of China and back again in search of an answer. A highly creative fantasy (there's not a vampire, werewolf or zombie in sight), Soul is jam-packed with humor, suspense, drama, adventure, and, naturally, a whole lot of soul.
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Top customer reviews
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My curiosity paid off, and Mr. Gilvezan has proven he's just as good a writer as he is a voice actor, for this is one of the most unique versions of the afterlife I've ever come across.
Rather than the conventional versions of Heaven, this book describes the afterlife as "the All"---a limitless, timeless, non-corporeal dimension where souls hang out and share their experiences from their time on the Earthly plane, before being sent back down to be reborn again in a new, human body (with this world being ruled over by an all-powerful being known only as "the Boss"). But things hit a snag when a mysterious plague infects the Earth, causing humans to become sterile and unable to produce children...which also means no more souls can be reborn. With the fate of the future of both the human race and the unborn souls at stake, one soul in particular (who's genderless and nameless at the start) suggests a plan---send them down to Earth in an already-grown human to try and discover the reason for the plague (and if possible, stop it). The dispatcher then places our protagonist in the recently vacated body of Jack Tyler, an insurance underwriter from Ohio. The newly reborn Jack now has one year exactly to complete his mission, before he's called back to the All to have another soul take his place....but first he has to contend with all the damage left behind by the old Jack, including work problems, a crumbling marriage, and the mistress he had an affair with.
The writing style is super enjoyable. Even with a fairly-serious subject matter as the afterlife, "Jack" has an 'average Joe'-like attitude and voice as he explains to the reader how the All functions. The way that everything works and how souls are dispatched and such is well thought out, and this book's way of explaining the afterlife is done in such a way that I don't think any one religion would be offended by it. The author's careful to include and mention all sorts of various religions and beliefs and scientific theories and, in a way, basically says they're all roughly conveying the same idea. Jack's feelings and observations as he navigates his way through the human life he's been placed in are at times funny, and at other turns thoughtful---conveying deeper meanings about what it means to live and our place in the universe, but without going into overly flowery prose.
Though we stay with Jack's viewpoint the entire time, all the characters are three dimensional and realistic. Without giving himself away, and along with having to complete his mission, poor Jack has to try and fix the destruction caused by his previous host. But his optimism and determination is something to be admired, and over the course of a year, he slowly has to fumble his way through repairing his marriage, reconnecting with his kids, and getting rid of a mistress that wouldn't leave him alone (though that plot point is quickly resolved and dropped early on. For as much as it's talked about in the book summary, the mistress is only in the story for like, three chapters). But the hyjinks of a soul having to learn to be human is well worth it, because once Jack discovers the reason for the mysterious plague, it's his experiences and the friends he's made along the way who unexpectedly help him find a creative solution to the problem---in this case, a damaged soul who's "gone rogue" and has his own reasons for wanting to see the human race destroyed.
At turns both hilarious and philosophical, this is one of the most original and creative supernatural fantasy stories I've come across, with plenty of plot twists I couldn't see coming, and an overall message about both the faults and the admirable qualities of the human race. Here's hoping that Dan Gilvezan's next book is just as enjoyable.
While this book is not without a few flaws, it is an original and highly enjoyable book, with a unique and compelling plotline and great characterization.
"Soul" is, as the title suggests, told from the point of view of a soul in the All -- an unconventional but interesting form of the afterlife -- waiting to be born in a body on Earth. However, said soul has been waiting for a long time, and soon finds out why -- a mysterious plague on Earth is keeping women from conceiving, and no new babies have been born in over a year. Worried, the soul appeals to the Dispatcher, asking to help, and the Dispatcher sends him down into the recently vacated body of Jack Tyler, an insurance underwriter from Ohio. The newly reborn Jack has one year to find out what's causing the plague and stop it, or else he will be called back to the All and another soul will take his place. But before Jack can begin his quest, he has to turn his newly acquired life around... for his new body also comes with work woes, a pending divorce, and a mistress who won't go away. And that's not even counting Gabriel, the rogue soul who just may be responsible for the plague and vows to make Jack's quest as difficult as he can...
As always, I love Dan Gilvezan's writing style. He knows how to make a captivating description without getting bogged down in details, and he deftly intertwines humor with more serious moments. He's spun a version of the afterlife that may not jive with most people's beliefs (in fact, it's far more reminiscent of the Transformers series' Allspark than of any Christian version of heaven), but it's a refreshing twist on the afterlife and quite welcome to see in fiction. And while the concept of a soul being sent into a pre-existing body has been done before in fiction (the film "Heaven Can Wait" is the most prominent example I can think of), this story is a unique spin on that concept, and does a marvelous job of showing a fresh new soul struggling to fit into an unfamiliar world and a life and family he knows nothing about.
The characters, while not the hilarious caricatures that populated "Drowned in the Grenadine" or the team of talented madmen showcased in "Bumblebee and Me," are quite grounded in reality and feel realistic and well-rounded. We get some glimpses of the old Jack Tyler -- and they're pretty unpleasant glimpses -- but the new Jack Tyler is an earnest soul (literally) who's trying to do his best despite having limited information to work with. His family starts off bitter and angry, but for very good reasons, and their progression through the novel doesn't feel forced or unnatural. I especially liked Jack's neighbors, good people who do their best to help however they can. I did have to snicker a bit at the choice of last name for Jack's mistress -- I'm sorry, but if you name a character Yankovic, I can't help but think of an accordion-playing musician instead of a seductive mistress. XD
I did find a few spelling and grammar errors in the book as I read -- nothing massive, but noticeable enough to jar me slightly out of the story. And I won't spoil the ending, but it does introduce a few concepts that weren't foreshadowed through the rest of the book, so said concepts feel a bit like they came out of nowhere. These are minor complaints, however, and didn't detract much from my enjoyment of the book.
Amazon doesn't allow for half-star ratings, otherwise I think "Soul" would earn 4.5 stars. Since I can't go halfsies, I'll round up to five. Gilvezan has proven himself a good writer, and has given us a unique paranormal fantasy that doesn't focus on an unrealistic interspecies romance or the overdone vampire genre. I'm going to continue to follow his writing career, and eagerly look forward to his next book, whenever it may come out and whatever the subject might be. (Though I wouldn't mind him revisiting the All someday...)
I greatly enjoyed this novel, and it truly is that – a novel – not meant as faint praise, it follows in the tradition of some of the greatest literature I’ve read. The main character takes on an adventurous (and humorous) journey from heaven (which is here named “the all”), to Earth, to deepest China, and to Mid-West America. The most profound idea here may the idea of the All: that which is the common base of soul, the substratum that unites us all beyond time and place, race and culture.
I can recommend this heartfelt and moving book.