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Beyond by T. P. Boje
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Beyond

by T. P. Boje

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I wanted a different type of book to read, so this is a refresher. I really like how everything fit well together, even with the consequences.

What I enjoyed most about this book is the great plot. We have a young girl who dies and is now in training. She learns about what she can do as a ghost, including helping the living. This is the part that I like most. I love that she had a heart of compassion to help others. But, also the consequences of what happen when you mess with fate. She learns it the hard way and this is where I want to see her grow. She adapted fast and made of her mind of what to do.

Now, the love interest. It's where I want it to be. I'm hoping that she be able to find someone to a friend to her. I'm hoping as the series goes on, we see Meghan find her true love. Though, I think she already found it. She just doesn't know it yet

I really love how in the end it all made sense. Every single part of the story had a bigger part to it. I loved watching and feeling Meghan emotions and thoughts goes through my head.

Beyond is a great start in the series. I really enjoyed stepping into Meghan shoes and following along with her. This series has great potential and I love to see where it goes. Beyond is a great story. ( )
  Bookswithbite | Nov 3, 2012 |
I suppose first and foremost, the similarities between this book and Harry Potter should be mentioned at least in passing. I don’t want to focus on them too much but they’re certainly there in various forms. T.P. Boje did go to lengths to change the things borrowed from the Potterverse and adapt them to her creation. Honestly, their presence didn’t fuss me all that much but I know that some readers didn’t appreciate the ties to one of their favourite series.

The way that the story starts, the narrator, Meghan, is addressing the reader and explaining the world of spirits: what a spirit is, how they appear, etc. I’m not sure that this was necessary. I understand why the author did this as it was her way of setting the scene for her world, but the downside is that in doing so she’s laid the whole of her universe before the reader before anything even happens. I think I would have preferred it if the book opened with Meghan waking up on the steamboat with no memory of how she got there and then all these concepts from the first few pages be introduced slowly throughout the book. For the most part, these things are actually rehashed at various points in the narrative so it wouldn’t have harmed the book if the first few pages had been removed.

One of the things mentioned in that part, though, is that a spirit appears in the clothes that they were wearing at the time of their death. All I could think was what would happen if the person died, say, in the bath? Would that spirit be forced to spend eternity in their birthday suit? Maybe I’m thinking too much, I know I have a tendency to do that at times.

I soon found that I was actually very interested in this afterlife that T.P. Boje had created with the idea that spirits train to later go back and interact with the living in order to try to sway them towards doing good things in life and joining them on the good side of the afterlife upon their death. And then God and Satan were introduced. I was really upset and frustrated at this point (obviously I didn’t pay much attention to the synopsis mentioning angels and heaven). I’d been really eating up this concept of the afterlife and then it was all reduced to a Christian concept. Christian because Satan is a Christian concept, not Jewish, and he is much more recent than the concept of God. There’s a scene where it’s mentioned that Satan is leading Adam and Eve somewhere, I forget where, but that’s not possible because he didn’t exist for several thousand years after the idea of Adam and Eve. The snake in the Garden of Eden is actually a representation of the god of the religion that had been popular in that area prior to Judaism and it was fairly normal standard at that time to take the imagery of the previous religion and vilify it. Enough religious side-tracking there, but yes, I was so disappointed when this world was made to revolve around God as I’d been hoping for a really interesting afterlife concept that didn’t hinge on religion. Really I suppose that I should have seen it coming as of the Hebrew terms introduced right at the beginning.

I’m not sure whether this book is aimed at teens or YA. Meghan herself is about 16 but the narration is fairly simple, which would be better for younger readers. It also leant heavily on believing what Meghan told you. I’ve got two examples for this:

1) Meghan is shown to go cloud surfing with Abhik, a young Indian boy who died of cancer. After that one scene together, Meghan suddenly considers him a good friend whom she has to protect - I suppose from himself - when he is coerced into going to visit the humans (something against school rules at this point in their education). I didn’t see enough interaction between the two characters to warrant Meghan feeling this way about Abhik. Had they had more scenes together to show the growing friendship between them, then I would have been more willing to accept this premise. Instead, I found myself having to just accept Meghan’s word for it.

2) When Meghan first arrives in the afterlife, she is sorted into a group of teens around her age. There are six girls who are all introduced when they’re together in the dorm. One, Portia, is soon presented as a spiteful persona and a ringleader with two cronies, Mai and Acacia. Later on, we get this quote: “Everyone who started to hang out too much with Portia seemed to be affected by that [poisoned heart]. I had seen it in Mai and later in Acacia, how they slowly turned more and more vicious every day.” Maybe Meghan had seen it, but I didn’t. Mai and Acacia were never presented as being nice. As of the very introduction of their characters, they were Portia’s cronies and they were not particularly kind, preferring to kick those who are already down. To back up this quote, there should have been scenes earlier in the book where Meghan is interacting with Mai and Acacia and those two girls are slowly changing from being nice girls who could have been her friend to being Portia clones.

There were a few other times when the reader was asked to just accept things on Meghan’s say so. A little bit of tell is ok but this book was occasionally heavily tell. There was show too, but I did find it to rely on tell a tad too much.

There were also certain things that didn’t make sense, such as Mr Grangé, the spirit who will teach the new students how to fly, was guillotined during the French Revolution and he carries his head around under this arm… yet he compares flying to being “the best roller-coaster ride you have ever tried”. How would Mr Grangé have had the experience of a roller-coaster to compare the two thus? I know that in the first few pages Meghan mentions that the spirits can choose to be visible and move around amongst the living, but it’s not expanded on in this first book and, anyway, Mr Grangé was decapitated – he’d stick out like a sore thumb in a crowd! Also, they don’t seem to get enough new comers. I know there are supposedly around 400 of these schools for spirits, but Meghan is there for approx. three human years and we only see one new intake of students. An awful lot of people die around the world in a span of three years. I know some of these will become bad spirits, but surely there’d still be a fair number of good spirits to contend with. Just little things like these left me scratching my head on occasion.

The last thing that I want to mention is that Meghan makes friends with a human boy, Jason, despite this being against the rules. This is fun and I enjoyed reading about the friendship blossoming between the two of them and the subtle hints that Jason was growing up as Meghan stayed the same age. I thought it was well done and I liked the concept of friendship and even romance between a living person and a ghost. Hell, I’ve liked that concept ever since I was convinced that Casper the ghost and Cat the human girl should totally have had their happily ever after! But then Meghan realises that the abuse Jason receives at his stepfather’s hands is going to go too far one day. She feels understandably powerless to do anything to change the situation but she doesn’t want Jason to die. Instead of either trying to find a way to prevent it, or coming to terms with what she can’t change, she just goes all Bella Swan on us and that is never a good thing. She just lies around in bed for a few months and mopes for the boy who’s not even dead yet but who she cannot save. I didn’t like this Meghan at all. I never like characters that choose to mope rather than be proactive, even if their proactivity does not give results. It’s better than reading about a depressed person failing classes and avoiding their friends.

Despite the fact that I’ve mentioned a number of things that didn’t work for me with the novel, it does have redeeming features as well and I did enjoy it. One of these redeeming features is the on-going plot of how Meghan died. We do not yet know what happened to her, but there are hints that maybe her parents never discovered her body and they’re still looking for her. This is actually heart-breaking. Can you imagine how horrible it would be if your child did not come home one day and then you never even had the closure of knowing whether or not they lived or died? That is one of the hardest realities I can imagine. The author also deals with child soldiers in Africa and I think she treated the subject admirably, even if it was only in passing.

As I said before, it was an interesting concept of what happens to us upon our deaths, and I did like the world that was presented even if I also harboured reservations about the religious side of it. I would have preferred it without the religious undertones, especially as the book brings together people of all sorts of different cultures who are not all Christian yet does not address this issue. But then, there is a large market for Christian fiction out there.

The book also ends at a point where Meghan’s next steps will define her as a person (or spirit as the case may be) and I’d like to see just how she’ll go about rectifying the negative impact she has had on events. ( )
  Readaba | May 1, 2012 |
Immediatly after the first lines, I felt transported to Hogwarts. Even if the context is different, the details of the scales that have their own mind, the dormitories with the four poster beds or the description of the building that serves as a school reminded me of the sorcerers' s castle. Ditto for the teacher who gives flying lessons to the newborn spirits. He almost looks like a Nearly Headless Nick.
That the author was inspired by the « Harry Potter » series to begin her journey into the beyond has upset me especially in viewing the items on my reading. However, this does not stop me from continuing my reading, it just disrupted my enjoyment.

Thereafter, the story and the plot take a completely different direction.There is something reassuring in the author's vision of the afterlife. The spirits are supported, they have an adjustment period, and will have an ongoing mission. Certainly, good and evil are always at war but the author gives a positive explanation to a distressing phenomenon for most mortals.

A nice book that makes you want to continue the adventures of Meghan, Jason, and Mick published in "Serenity".

Read more about this book on my blog: http://newbooksonmyselves.blogspot.com/2012/03/beyond-academy-by-tp-boje.html

Lucie ( )
  luciefuentes | Mar 2, 2012 |
There's the age-old question "What makes a book, the writing or the story?" Most of the time, I say that both components are essential to creating a book worth reading, but sometimes elaborate prose that flow off the page and twist your mind are overwhelming and you just want to be told a good story. That's what it was my experence reading Beyond. The writing was not bad, please do not misunderstand me, but it wasn't particularly stunning. Some of the dialogue was stilted and there could have been a lot more details, but the book was quick and refreshing and told a story that was interesting.

The world was set up very decently. I still have some questions, but there are more books in the series and I can't expect (or even want, really) all the worldbuilding in the first book. There were a few things I found slightly unbelievable or inconsistent, but in the end, those things didn't matter. I also found a few things to be slightly similar to the world set up in Harry Potter. Not exactly the same, but just similar. That's not a bad thing, persay, but it subtracts from the originality, obviously.

Now the plot and main storyline were what I really adored. I loved reading about this whole new life after death and I liked how the characters in this novel didn't just turn into all-knowing being when they died. Instead they have to attend an academy, no matter how old, where they learn special things like how to fly or walk through walls. The religious aspects in this book are there, but not preachy or overwhelming. There are good spirits and there are bad, and the good must continuously fight the bad spirits' influence. There are hints and talk about an ancient war and Heaven and I'm hoping there are more of those things in the next books--in the same nonpreachy way, of course. Then here was the climax, which was my FAVORITE part. There were a lot of parts in this book that seemed sort of convienant or easy, but the climax was epic! There was a ton of anticipation that had my heart literally pounding and my mind frantically devouring each word! And then the ending! Oh my, it absolutely broke my heart! I did not see parts of it coming, and yet it didn't necessarily come out of nowhere. I wasn't crazy about the beginning because it directly addressed the readers and that's a feat that I believe to be difficult to pull off, but it only happens in the beginning, so it wasn't too bad.

This is a nice read if you're looking for something quick and creative and not too heavy. This book had many flaws, but I still enjoyed it. I definitely want to read the sequel. Also, this book is suitable for all ages and would be a good read for younger kids that are beginning to read YA and MG books! ( )
  BookBreather | Feb 4, 2012 |
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