Sebastian and the Afterlife
By William J. Barry
The Writer’s Coffee Shop
11 October 2012
Death is a debt we all must pay. ~Euripides
…and Sebastian, the title character in Sebastian and the Afterlife, has just paid his debt. The author creates an intriguing world in between life and afterlife, one that begins after Sebastian dies, though how he dies is brushed over and never really readdressed.
Sebastian is seventeen and his primary concern is for his widowed girlfriend, Sarah. I was confused by that idea—what about his family or best friend, or anyone else?—until I realised that he’s seventeen; of course it’s all about the girlfriend. (To the author’s credit, though, Sebastian’s still-living friends are important, too.)
There are two girl characters of note—or three, if you include the primary love interest Sarah. (Don’t even get me started on how annoying it is that yet another novel using a girl/woman as a goal or reward instead of as a character in and of herself. Ugh.) The melodrama is reminiscent of Romeo & Juliet, but it didn’t really seem like Sebastian was connected to everything he’d just lost by dying, and I’m not sure his still living family and friends were really connected to (the memory of) him. The emotion seemed… skimmed over, I guess?
Sebastian and the Afterlife was an easy read—and relatively short—but the writing style was choppy and unsophisticated, and it pulled me out of the story too often for me to really enjoy the content. Likewise, the story implied in the book’s description—about the Grim Reaper and his agents, Axis Red and the soul pirates, and the war over souls—turned out to be background against Sebastian’s simplistic idea that if he could just get one last kiss from Sarah, he’d be able to move on into the Afterlife proper.
The potential was there, but assuming that immature writing is acceptable just because the intended audience is children and youth is a mistake. There are two further books in the series, Agents of the Reaper and Forever Awakening, so it’s obvious the author has stories to tell about Sebastian and the other characters, but I wish he’d have spent more time in the first book to make it really great instead of just okay.
DISCLAIMER: I received an ebook version of Sebastian and the Afterlife free from The Writer’s Coffee Shop for this review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.