From Braver, a novelist unafraid to amp up the creepiness, a disquieting glimpse at science’s efforts to prove there is indeed life after death.
Zack Kashian, a grad student with a gambling problem, should have been wearing his helmet when he crashed his bicycle, catching the wheel on a pothole in the darkened street. Weeks later, with his mother by his bedside and Zack’s doctors pessimistic that the young man will ever come out of his coma, Zack’s future looks like it will be a series of nursing homes coupled with around-the-clock care. Then Zack starts talking, but what he says confounds everyone who hears him; Zack recites the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, the original language used by Jesus. Only problem is, Zack doesn’t speak Aramaic, has never studied it and isn’t particularly religious. That doesn’t matter to the throng hoping for a faith healing that flocks to see him after a video of the incident is posted on YouTube. Frightened, Zack’s mother has her son moved to another room and placed under guard to avoid the crowds. One day, without warning, her patience pays off and Zack awakens, shaky and uncertain, but on the road to recovery. Meanwhile, a disturbing number of homeless individuals have been found dead, mostly as a result of suicide. In each case, toxicology reports reveal the presence of a deadly toxin found in the puffer fish. How do these incidents relate to the experiments in which Zack has become involved? Zack soon learns he must trust one of the team members or run the risk of never resolving the greatest sorrow of his young life. Braver, who specializes in fiction that pushes the reader closer and closer to things that go bump in the night, succeeds with a scary, well-crafted read, although at times the story gets lost in rivers of scientific explanation.
An original story that may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It's at times a disturbing and difficult read, but the well-paced final segment will please adrenaline junkies.