by Michael F. Stewart
published by Non Sequitur
Why Read?: Review
Challenges: E-Book, 100 Books in a Year
Michael F. Stewart's newest adult series, The Terminals, takes an interesting look at religion and the afterlife. The first book in the series, Spark, focuses on Gnosticism and the idea that every life contains a spark.
Lieutenant Colonel Christine Kurzow just wants to die. Because of inaction on her part, her whole unit was killed in an insurgent attack. The Army, however, will not let her die and sends her to join a secret unit called the Terminals. Everyone in this unit is on their deathbed, but until they do die, they are tasked with finding terminal patients will to let their deaths mean something. Through the use of a psychic, they befriend killers in the afterlife learning their secrets so that those in this life can stop future attacks or rescue prisoners. The case Christine gets assigned to involves a dead serial killer who has a busload of children held captive somewhere. The killer was Gnostic and believed that by collecting the sparks of those he killed, he could achieve greatness in the afterlife and be reborn. Charlie is a terminally ill Gnostic monk who is eager to help Christine, but the afterlife is not at all what he expected, and getting the killer to give up the location of the kids is a very difficult task. Meanwhile, Christine is still suicidal and the fading hope for this case just makes things worse.
This is the second book by Stewart that I have read that concern Gnosticism, and I would have to say he has a very good handle on the subject and that is why this is the first afterlife he tackles. the idea of using dying patients to reach those in the afterlife to solve crimes is a very interesting idea which Stewart has obviously thought out well, although there was a point or two where my understanding was a little fuzzy. Also, this novel is not for the squeamish. There are some very graphic seasons of torture that had me turning away a points.
Michael F. Stewart has some amazing story ideas and I cannot wait to see where The Terminals series goes next. Spark was a great introduction to this intriguing world.