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In newcomer Neches’s cutesy take on the afterlife, Jonathan Livingston Seagull ranks right up there with the Bible and Aristotle; the Supreme Being sounds like Bette Midler; and bathroom functions, but not sex, have been eliminated.

In this heavenly hierarchy new souls like pretty, blond Skye Sebring start out as greeters, then usually spend a stretch as guardian angels before earning their first life on earth. So imagine Skye’s surprise at the Hospitality annual awards banquet when she is chosen to live on earth. Scared, Skye takes a prep course in which she learns that all she needs is Beatles lyrics to prosper. Meanwhile, down on earth, handsome Atlanta lawyer and presidential offspring Ryan Blaine attempts to adjust to the changes he’s noticed in his wife since her own near-death experience a year earlier. Susan had been a veterinarian, a classy, beautiful blond with whom he shared a magical sex life. Since her near fatal car accident, Susan has no affinity for animals, adores Johnny Cash (is that so bad?) and reads gossip magazines. Plus the sex stinks. Ryan sticks by his wife hoping she’ll snap out of it, but new Susan is really Emily, Susan’s skanky separated-at-birth twin. When Susan had gone to meet her without Ryan’s knowledge, Emily beat her, robbed her and left her for dead, before cracking up her car. The real Susan has been lying in a coma in a nursing home in Birmingham. Now awakened, she has no memory of her old life. Back in heaven, Skye learns she is not really a new soul, but an old soul in limbo, i.e. Susan. The Supreme Being has made getting Susan’s earth life happily resolved a top priority—no wonder things haven’t been going better in Iraq.

Heaven trivialized as a pop-culture paradise without evident irony—a hellish idea.

Pub Date: Feb. 5th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7432-9248-1
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2007