After reading H10N1, I was a newly converted fan of M.R. Cornelius (you can read my review here). An addicting adventure/thriller, H10N1 was quite different than her next novel, The Ups and Downs of Being Dead. Although still enveloped in the sci-fi genre, Dead seemed to me to be more of a futuristic take on the science of cryonics, and a tale of where things could go in the future if certain advancements were made. Add to this an intriguing tale of a man caught up in the midst of an unexpected experience during his cryopreservation and you’ve got the recipe for another great book. With that in mind I began reading!
Robert Malone is a typical suit. He’s always concerned with business, unemotional, and so addicted to his work that he barely spends any time with his family. Not that he would want to spend time with them even if he could; his wife is a model who is as unemotional about their marriage as he is, and his son is a drug addict who has never worked a day in his life. Thus, everyone found it quite odd when he decided to cryogenically preserve his body in the hopes that future scientists would be able to invent a way to bring him back to life. After finding out that he was terminally ill he had the procedure done, and to his surprise he awakens in suspended animation, neither living nor truly dead. He meets a woman named Maggie, who states that she is a “temp” just like him: a person who has been cryogenically frozen and is waiting around until he or she becomes unfrozen. She states that her job for the next month is to take new additions to their ranks (like Robert) and teach them the ways of the undead. They can float, move through walls, and even feel the pressure of buildings and physical objects, but they are basically invisible to the living. Maggie and Robert are walking in the street when they meet Suzanne, a woman who literally died in a car accident right in front of them, yet didn’t “cross over” to the other side despite her physical death. Robert is leery to begin a new life as he prepares to wait out the decades that will pass before he can reawakened, yet he learns a lot more about his family, his friends, Suzanne, and himself before that day comes. What he does in this “in-between time” will change his life forever.
I admit, it doesn’t take much to pull me in if you’ve got a good sci-fi storyline. I’m already a sucker for science, so I was definitely intrigued at Cornelius’ intention on building a novel around cryonics (I admit I had to look up the distinction between cryonics and cryogenics). Although the real science of cryopreservation is a long ways off, it was really awesome to see how much she had researched and was able to put in the book and build a great story around it.
The real meat of the story is Robert’s transformation from an unlovable, cold businessman to someone who we can identify with and rally around, and I think the best part of the story by far was Robert’s relationship with his son Robbie. Taking the main stage at the end of the novel, it was amazing to see their journey together and it did a great job of hooking me until the end. I liked how Cornelius was able to weave Robert’s relationships with his various family members as well as Suzanne to create many dimensions to his character and show how he was able to change over time. Suzanne is also interesting in her own right, and a great counterpart to Robert’s character. All in all, it’s a great story of personal growth and change that will leave you wondering about whether or not we can actually be preserved and revived in the future.
4 out of 5 stars
The Ups and Downs of Being Dead by M.R. Cornelius
eBook: 390 pages
Special thanks to M.R. Cornelius for my review copy!