S. P. Cloward's Afterlife is a gripping and exciting novel about zombies, or rather, zombie-like beings known as Mortui. A passage from the book describes the Mortuis as "a subsect of the human race that had resulted from a small genetic evolution during the dawn of mankind." They are the 'walking dead', in that their bodies are dead, but their souls have not been detached from the body to move on. Just like vampires, they have no heartbeat, and they also have to feed in order to survive. However, rather than feed on blood, they feed on human energy or source of life, through a connection with the eyes.
The story is centered around Wesley Lohmann, a human, or an 'Antemort' (the Mortui's term for living humans), who is frustrated with life, having just suffered from a heartbreak. He decides to take steps towards ending his life, and in the event of doing this, he becomes a Mortui. Now among the living dead, he determines to make a difference in the lives of living humans as he begins to understand and appreciate more the value of friendships, relationships and the quality of life. As Wes continues to go through his transition, he encounters major physical, emotional and psychological absurdities and ventures, in which we are left holding our breaths, not able to imagine what's to come next, and not able to stop reading.
Afterlife is not quite in the horror genre, neither is it the usual, casual read. It is partly SciFi-paranormal, but without the scientific chatter that books of this genre usually embody. It's quite different from the usual zombie/undead plots that have been so overused, and shows some literary elements in terms of the road to maturity that Wes goes through throughout the novel, albeit via paranormal routes. You will not be able to put this one down - it's that intense, and very much entertaining.
The novel clearly isn't for every reader, especially if you're not much into fantasy or mythical tales. However, Cloward structured this one so brilliantly, you can't help but be caught up in it once you give it a chance and begin reading. There are indeed some disturbing scenes that, if ever acted out in a movie setting, would be incredibly gory, and so it might not be it for the sensitive readers.
I thought the novel should have been given a different title so it could stand out, given that there are quite a few fantasy books out there with the same title. However, I honestly cannot think of any other befitting title than this one, especially in light of the circumstances surrounding the novel's plot.
Afterlife is the first book of a string of promising series, and what a brilliant first book it makes. I really do see it transforming into a movie; if it could happen with Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series and J.K Rowling's Harry Potter series, then it is possible for this one! It holds a lot of promise, and I most certainly will be looking out for Book two!
OVERALL RATING: 9.5/10
COARSE LANGUAGE: LowAfterlife on Amazon
SEXUAL CONTENT: None
*** I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.