Title: Second Lives
Author: P.D. Cacek
Edition: Paperback ARC
Page Count: 256 pages
Rating: 4.5 / 5 ✨✨✨✨🌠
When four patients unexpectedly wake after being declared dead, their families are ecstatic and the word “miracle” begins to be whispered throughout the hospital. But the jubilation is short lived when the patients don’t respond to their names and insist they are different people. It is suggested all four are suffering from fugue states until one of the doctors recognizes a name and verifies that he not only knew the girl but was there when she died in 1992. It soon becomes obvious that the bodies of the four patients are now inhabited by the souls of people long dead.
This book has been somewhat polarizing in the bookloving communities I follow, and I think I think part of the reason why is that this seemed to have been marketed as more of a horror read (and to a lot of mainly horror loving book reviewers), and it’s absolutely not horror at all. It’s more of a sci-fi/fantasy medical drama with a really intricate plot that intertwines the stories of several different people. It’s got a lot of tragedy, and *SPOILER ALERT* no real happy ending.
Another reason I think people struggled a bit was that there is a bit of a build up before the story gets to its main point. The book starts off introducing each different storyline in separate chapters, and it takes a majority of the book before the different characters’ stories start to connect. Despite following 8 (ish – maybe more?) different people to start with, I didn’t have trouble keeping anyone straight, and I really enjoyed the little mini-stories. Each character has such a different background – from their religions to genders to locations, each one is as fully fleshed out as the last.
I didn’t mind the build up, because I honestly enjoyed the journey. Some stories are sadder and more believable than others – Nora’s character & story, in particular, was really heartbreaking. I will say that I didn’t fully connect with everyone the way I did with Nora, but I still enjoyed reading about them. This has a lot to do with Cacek’s writing – it’s beautiful, and with this being my first book read by her, I’m really interested in reading more that she writes!
Overall, I’d recommend this is if you aren’t bothered by large casts & sad stuff – if you’re like me and love both of those things, you’ll probably really dig this, so check it out! And if you read it, let me know what you think – I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Big thanks to Flame Tree Press for the ARC, as per usual – I loved it!