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The Ghosts of Heaven: shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016 (English Edition) Formato Kindle
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It reminded me of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. Tales of witchcraft, the mentally insane, a cave girl from the beginnings of time to the futuristic account of a lonely spaceman aboard a ship seeking a new homeland. Imaginatively thought and creatively told. The Ghosts of Heaven is also an intelligent novel; it makes you think more than first realise and it will force you to carry on reading to discover the meaning of this never-ending spiral and why it means something to each of the quarter's protagonists.
My particular favourite quarters were the second one which follows the story of young Anna who is struggling to cope with the death of her mother and look after her brother who is suffering from an as yet undiscovered ailment. It was richly told and instantly took me back to my love of Arthur Miller's The Crucible.
I also fell in love with the third quarter, which is dark and captivating with its setting being a mental institution. And yet, even after closing the book, I'm left with an unnerving respect for the almost surreal writing of quarter four where everything (in my opinion) links together.
I have admired Marcus Sedgwick for many years now, and I must say that The Ghosts of Heaven is his most ambitious novel to date. Not as popular as he should be, Sedgwick manages to hit all the right spots no matter what type of book he writes.
The first part of The Ghosts of Heaven follows a young woman during prehistoric times. It’s almost time for a hunt, so she goes with the oldest man in her tribe and a young boy to make the magic that will feed her people. I loved that this quarter was written in verse! The narrative is simple which really fit the time and setting. Few words are used, but their meaning gets across just fine, much like how the girl and her people communicate. This is also where we’re introduced to the shape that connects all of the stories: a helix. The girl notices it all around her and ponders on what it means.
The Ghosts of Heaven‘s second story is about Anna, a young girl living in England during the witch hunts. Her mother has just died, so she’s left to care for her sick brother on her own. But there’s a new priest in town and he’s hell bent on ridding this village of evil. Of course, Anna must get caught in the middle of it after she starts noticing the spirals around her. This part took me longer to get into. In the beginning it jumps around a bit between various characters to set the stage. But once things finally got going and all of the little events started adding up, I was hooked! I still cannot believe how twisted people can be, even supposed men of God.
Set in the late 1920s, the third quarter of The Ghosts of Heaven is narrated by Dr. James as he starts his new position as assistant administrator at a mental institution. There he meets a man named Charles who lives on the lowest level with the most extreme cases, although the man seems quite lucid and “normal.” This piques the doctor’s interest and he beings spending more time with Charles, eventually learning about…spirals! I was expecting this part to have a darker, creepy vibe based on its setting and the fact that James is being haunted by his dead wife, but for the most part it’s just kind of boring. I didn’t really connect with the characters at all, and found the spiral thing a bit forced.
The final quarter of The Ghosts of Heaven was the story I was most anticipating. It’s set sometime in the future, Earth is beyond overpopulated, so humans are moving to another planet. The first voyage is on its way with 500 passengers in “longsleep” along with 10 sentinels to make sure everything goes smoothly. We’re introduced to Keir Bowman, sentinel #6 and the strange occurrences he witnesses during the 12 hours he’s allowed to be awake. This part seriously blew my mind. It is awesome and twisty and WTF. And like I said, that last chapter is magic. I reread it immediately and it was still magic. Seriously.
The Ghosts of Heaven was pretty darn fantastic. It’s nearly perfect except for my slight boredom in the third quarter. This is seriously one unique and mind-blowing novel. It’s YA that doesn’t feel like YA, but it’s also not stuffy like Literary Fiction, but it’s certainly something more.
*Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley for review. No compensation was offered or accepted.