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Review: The End

The End, by Paul Roach 

Reviewed by Ophelia Julien

Five Stars for Sheer Ambition 

Five stars, but not just for ambition: also for the audacity to weave together action/adventure with paranormal, metaphysics, thriller, and a dash of science fiction thrown in. The End, by Paul Roach, is such a mixed bag of genres that at the start of it all this reader couldn’t decide whether to scratch her head in confusion or nod in agreement. Turns out that by the time it was over, both impulses were correct. 

The End is the story of Fran O’Rourke, an all-around nice young man who is killed in Afghanistan while trying to pull off a rescue in the middle of a fierce firefight. It is the story of a happily married young woman who becomes deathly ill while pregnant with her first child. It is the story of good vs. evil, heaven and hell, and the fate of mankind as a sort of outcome depending on how the battle goes. And it is also the story of how much we, as human beings, have a part in that outcome. Have I lost anyone yet? The fact of the matter is, the author manages to pull all of this off without losing the reader, as intricately woven as the different strands may be. 

The book starts off a bit slowly, building up steam as background for all the different subplots is presented to the reader. This gives the author, both a surgeon and a military man, ample space to utilize his expertise in both areas. There is enough combat and medical detail for working writers to use this as a reference work for certain types of scenarios. That being said, however, once the different stories do come together the pace picks up considerably and the acceleration rate doesn’t drop until the climax of the book. After that, there remains a curious type of denouement to close out the tale that might almost seem extraneous, but only if one has read this book too lightly. The discussion at the end of the book is crucial to making sense of the entire work and what this author is trying to tell us: in The End, we’re all of us in this together, long after our physical selves have quit the battlefield. 

Be aware, however, that this book, which asks and attempts to answer some of humanity’s biggest questions, will make you stop and think.

Readers of all different genres may find themselves caught up in this work: action/adventure and thriller fans, sci-fi aficionados, even those with a philosophical or metaphysical leaning. The book may be a bit quirky, but quirky can be a terrific thing when it’s entertaining. Be aware, however, that this book, which asks and attempts to answer some of humanity’s biggest questions, will make you stop and think.

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