Afterparty by Daryl Gregory
Reviewed by Raul
Gregory’s exhilarating new book, Afterparty, draws you into an engaging story that plays on some powerful themes. The underlying idea of what people seek in religion is exactly what makes this story so powerful. Is God real or just a thought in our heads? Parables highlight the background of the characters and enhance the religiosity. That the Godhead is perceived by them with the use of a drug named Numinous suggests the best of Aldous Huxley and Philip K. Dick.
Lyda Rose is not your typical religious zealot. Having been there at the creation of Numinous, and also one of its first overdoses, she is an addict in recovery. Other members of Little Sprout, the company that manufactured Numinous, have pledged never to make it again. So after seeing a fellow patient kill herself when weened off the drug, Rose’s only concern is to stop whoever is making Numinous available again. Her companion, the imaginary Doctor Gloria, a winged angel with the appearance of a therapist, is more than just a crutch. Doctor Gloria is Rose’s link to her religious experience, and not a connection she enjoys.
Gregory’s pacing is what makes this story a thriller. There are breakouts from mental hospitals, cross country chases, ex-spies, smugglers, and a genuine need to reconnect with those friends and family who have been lost over time. What holds the story together is the overarching idea that God is more than one thing to different people, and perhaps that is the best thing about the book. The actions of the characters convey what exactly is the best in all of us. To truly understand God takes an empathy that is genuinely lacking in the world; if bringing that empathy out with some chemicals helps us to be better, what does it matter if God is everywhere for everyone?
Afterparty will make you puzzle and probe your own beliefs, whatever they may be, and even the staunch atheist will find things to ponder. A truly mind-bending novel by an intelligent and creative novelist, Afterparty breaks down boundaries in the science fiction genre.
Copies of Afterparty are available on our shelves at BookPeople and via bookpeople.com