Date Completed: 1/22/2016
Talk about a book that surprised and impressed me at every turn. This sci-fi novel about an elderly gentleman with Alzheimer’s filled my heart with love, joy, and hope. I will say, as I’ve heard other people mention, the slugs were a little bit weird. I, for the most part, can get behind the slugs, but I think Conley lost me a little with the Sky Amoeba. I’m not going to say any more than that because I feel like it’s something you have to discover for yourself, and maybe you’ll feel differently, but that was my general impression of the story.
I’ve been reading a lot of books with flashback timelines in the story. I really have been enjoying most of these books with similar trajectories, and Pale Highway’s flashback scenes were very well executed. Conley timed them to flow nicely with the start and stop of each contemporary chapter, and I felt satisfaction at discovering more of Gabriel’s life story through these flashbacks.
Oh man, though. The character development was so good. I fell in love with these characters, in love with Gabriel, and I am so impressed with how much Conley made me feel what these characters were feeling. I cried, not once, but several times throughout the course of this book. There is so much simple tragedy, so much honest shyness, so much untimely love in this book that just left me raw from how real each of these characters felt to me.
Pale Highway was a page-turner. I found the flow of the story very easy to read and the overall trajectory very interesting. I love that it was a future story, but that the book was set not too far into the future: 2080. Gabriel found a cure (or vaccine, really) for AIDS (which is not that unbelievable but still sci-fi as it is just out of reach) and is now dealing with a new disease as a result (which, again, is not that unbelievable as there is common talk about how vaccines tend to create new diseases that evolve to better our immune system and the drugs). The premise is borderline realism, and the slugs are the only thing that really stand out to me as being far out there, although the book does raise the question of whether the slugs are simply a product of Gabriel’s Alzheimer’s. This possibility is refuted, but at the same time the door is left open for interpretation, which I feel really lends itself to the story Conley portrays.
Conley lived in California, where the majority of the book is set, but now lives in New Hampshire. You can visit him on his website, and I highly recommend checking this book out.
I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.