Final Life by Rose Garcia

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Final Life by Rose GarciaFinal Life by Rose Garcia

Series: The Transhuman Chronicles #1

Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nothing sucks more than being forced to move cross country during senior year. And Dominique Wells doesn’t think things can get any worse until she’s invited to a quirky neighbor’s party. When pressured into playing a magical card game, Dominique’s world goes from sucky to terrifying. She begins having visions of a red desert and an evil presence – a presence who hints at past lives and promises to kill her.

Plagued by fear and suspicion, and unaware of a family secret kept hidden from her, Dominique is determined to live. Together with a mysterious and gorgeous guy who’s moved in while his parents are away, and a hot, popular guy from school, Dominique must seek clues to her past if she’s to survive. That, and keep her emotions in check for the two guys she suddenly can’t stop thinking about because if she doesn’t, she’ll be dead. For real.

[Note: This author and I are acquainted. This has no effect on my opinion or review of the book.]

Final Life demonstrates an awful lot of potential. It has a whole slew of things to offer with its premise, alone. Dominique is taken from a sullen girl of 18 to the last one standing between the destruction of the world at a fairly quick pace. Strange things happen all around her so fast that she can barely keep up. She relocates halfway across the country to Texas, of all places (teenagers are never excited to move to Texas, for some reason); she is forced to begin her senior year at a brand new school in a brand new place; her parents bring home this weird guy to stay with them for who-knows-how-long; and she’s made a spectacular frenemy with an ex-boyfriend who has eyes for her; not to mention, she keeps having visions of a red desert where she fears for her life.

It all sounds really suspenseful and exciting, right? The frustrating thing is that it is. There just isn’t enough impact behind the punch. It’s almost as though all the characters, and how we are supposed to feel, is swept up in the whirlwind of the plot. Emotions get lost; interest gets washed away. Usually a reader goes into a book with a certain level of investment and leaves with a heightened one. Final Life undeniably could have delivered that feeling, but it failed. I remained unattached, almost distant, from the story the whole time.

I will say this, though: for how little I had invested in the narrative, I was very interested in how the different elements each came together at the end. For instance, the side characters were my favorite. Dominique narrated, but I don’t think she was a strong enough character to have carried this book on her own.

Her parents, though virtually the same person, are not typical parents in that they actually stick beside and try to reason with Dominique even when she herself is being unreasonable.

Farrell is something of an enigma, but even when Dominique shows him the most disregard, I think he had ten times more to bring to the table than any other character (except Trent). His personality at first seems standoffish and flat, but the more I warmed up to him, simply because of who he was, the more I realized he has some serious depth to him – if only it were explored, even a little.

Another wonderful character was the aforementioned Trent who shows an immediate interest in Dominique. It’s hard not to like this kid. He’s a sweet Hispanic boy who really turns out to be more than I thought he would.

And then finally we have my favorite of all, Infiniti, the best friend. I think this speaks for itself:

She had just stuffed her face with a handful of hot Cheetos and downed them with a root beer.

p. 89

I don’t know about y’all, but that’s a sure sign of kickassery in itself, right there. But, aside from that, she’s kind of a pothead with a heart of gold, and when she told Dominique at the end that they would always be best friends, I wanted to believe it, too.

One thing that I absolutely cannot overlook is the interesting incorporation of the setting and the history of Houston into the overall plot. This is a book that couldn’t have taken place anywhere else. I was pleasantly surprised by how much thought and energy went into figuring out how things had played out in the past to bring the present to its, well, current state. It’s not something I see a lot of in this genre anymore. So, kudos.

Without those three things – the awesome interplay between the history of Houston and the plot, the endearing array of supporting characters, the smartly action-packed pacing of the narrative – holding this book together, I’m afraid Final Life probably would’ve fallen apart. Luckily, since it does these things – and does them well – it ends up being a large problem of execution. Were it handled more organically, this story could’ve easily wormed its way into the Hall of Hidden Gems Fame. As it stands, it rings slightly hollow.

So, yes, this book’s not fantastic, but it’s certainly not bad, either. Enjoyable but empty.

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