Welcome to my stop of the This is Not the End blog tour! I’m officially an excerpt stop, but I enjoyed this book so much that I’ve included a brief review as well. It’s not quite contemporary YA; the setting is reflective of modern times, but there’s a sci-fi element that takes it to the next level. Make sure you scroll all the way down to enter the giveaway, and you can follow along with the rest of the tour here!
I wonder if for the rest of my life, I’ll be haunted by beautiful days.
On one cloudless, radiant summer afternoon, Lake Devereaux lost everything. The car crash claimed the lives of her best friend and boyfriend, the people who had become her family after her own fell apart. But she doesn’t have to lose them both.
The development of resurrection technology has changed the world. Under the new laws regulating the process, each person gets one resurrection to be used or forfeited on their eighteenth birthday. Mere weeks away from turning eighteen, Lake faces an impossible choice.
Envisioning life without one of the people she loves most is shattering enough, but Lake carries an additional burden: years ago, under family pressure, Lake secretly—and illegally—promised her resurrection to someone who isn’t even dead yet.
The search for answers about her future draws Lake more deeply into the secrets of her past until she begins to question everything about those closest to her. Betrayals and hurts both new and old threaten to eclipse the memories she once cherished.
Then Lake meets a boy unlike anyone she’s encountered before, who unflinchingly embraces the darkest parts of her life…and who believes that all resurrections are wrong.
Which path is the right one? And how can Lake start to heal when she can’t move on?
About the Author
Chandler Baker got her start ghostwriting novels for teens and tweens, including installments in a book series that has sold more than 1 million copies. She grew up in Florida, went to college at the University of Pennsylvania and studied law at the University of Texas. She now lives in Austin with her husband. Although she loves spinning tales with a touch of horror, she is a much bigger scaredy-cat than her stories would lead you to believe.
You can find Chandler as the books contributor on the YouTube channel Weird Girls.
Connect with the Author
The most formative memory of my life is not even my own. It doesn’t matter that I wasn’t there to see it happen, that I didn’t feel the rip of pain or hear the solitary shriek followed by silence, I’ve still managed to live that moment a thousand times. One thousand times I’ve told myself the story from his perspective. One thousand times I’ve tried to rewrite history and failed.
Here’s what I recall.
Big, soggy clouds hanging low in the sky, the last drizzle having been wrung out of them. It’s not an important detail, but if it hadn’t been a rainy day, we would have been on the back porch or down on the shell-y stretch of gray beach behind our house. I know the rain must have made Matt bored, because usually I was the one climbing things and getting scraped-up knees those days, mainly because Matt was too old. He did still read to me about talking lions and magical queens that turned the world to ice, but I also caught him talking on the phone to girls occasionally, and I didn’t like it.
In the memory, I’ve tried to edit the weather, but it never works. The story won’t hold together without it.
Our neighborhood has a palm tree infestation, which is to say that there are palm trees everywhere and their roots try to choke out any plant that dares to grow nearby. They can make other kinds of trouble too. The tall ones that mark the property line around our house have to be supported at the base with wooden beams so that the giraffe-like trunks don’t topple over and gouge holes in our roof.
So it’s notable that we have one of the only oak trees in a one-mile radius. Since nobody can climb palm trees, I can attest to the fact that looking at a nice, solid oak does tend to give you the urge to hike an arm over one of the branches and climb it. In other words, I get where Matt was coming from. I just wish for the thousand-and-first time that I could change it. But, like I said, he was bored and must have just finished a book—actually, yes, I remember that, one of his books about aliens or sorcerers—and that oak tree is right outside his window. Maybe if the previous owners hadn’t planted it there or if Matt and I had swapped rooms, maybe none of this would have happened. But they didn’t, we didn’t, so we’re stuck in it.
Matt went outside. He rubbed his hands on his pants and over the bark. The air smelled like damp wood with a hint of seaweed, since we’re so close to the shoreline. He could see bits of sand trapped in the tree’s crevices because, of course, sand gets everywhere—even in our ears sometimes. There are times when I relive this story that I find myself wiping my own hands, and then I realize that I’m not in the memory and Matt’s hands don’t work anymore.
He had a new paperback shoved in his back pocket, and he’d decided to read it from up in the tree, like one of the boys in The Swiss Family Robinson. So he stretched onto his tippy-toes until he could reach the lowest branch. The bark stung the inside of his arm as he hoisted himself onto the lowest branch. He enjoyed the sensation of his dangling feet and climbed higher so that there was more air between his shoes and the ground.
The branches creaked under the soles, but there were fat, sturdy limbs above him. So Matt scaled farther up the oak, careful not to slip on the wet wood. This is the part where I try to tell Matt to stop. End the story here. Turn back. Go no farther.
The last branch that he hooked his arm over looked like all the others. He didn’t see the gash between the limb and the trunk. He didn’t feel it give under his weight until all of it was already pressing down and it was too late.
I wish I didn’t remind myself of this so much. Then maybe I could un-remember the memory.
The sound was the cracking of bone. Flashes of leaves and twigs that tore at his shirt and neck. His stomach shot up to his throat as his torso fell unevenly toward the dirt, which was packed hard from the rain. Time stopped. Just like it does in the movies. Everything else crawled into slow motion.
It felt like he was falling forever.
Then, when his back hit the ground, it seemed like there would never be breath in his lungs again and his spine splintered like thin ice under a footstep, forking off into spidery veins that fractured the world—into before and after.
This is Not the End is a dark, powerful story full of people clinging to the last vestiges of hope. It struck me as a blend of As You Wish by Chelsea Sedotti and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, with impossible choices, intense pressure from all sides, and the question of what makes life worth living.
The terrible beauty of resurrections cuts Lake to the core. With three groups vying for her choice, she’s guaranteed to anger more people than she can please, and that doesn’t even include how the decision shreds her heart and soul. In her most vulnerable hour, her usual sources of counsel are beyond reach, and the one person willing to listen holds a hard-line belief that has the power to destroy their fledgling friendship and leave Lake more alone than ever.
The entire book has an unsettling overtone that grips you from page one and refuses to look away. One scene in particular carries an even heavier weight and morbidness – I don’t want to spoil anything, but it reads like the opening of a Criminal Minds episode and is intentionally disturbing, so if you’re a squeamish reader just keep that at the back of your mind and maybe skim just a teeny weeny bit if necessary. You’ll be able to see it coming. I’m not giving that warning because I think people should skip this book; on the contrary, I think it raises extremely relevant questions about the value of life as well as the danger of commercializing it. The referenced scene plays a critical part in establishing how resurrections have been twisted by a faction of society, and serves as a warning that medical advancements and technological breakthroughs can have a dark underbelly.
Are resurrections merely a medical procedure, cold and clinical? A party trick? A means of obtaining some deep spiritual enlightenment? A dangerous hope? This is Not the End explores all of these facets and more while still letting readers decide for themselves whether they think the core idea of resurrections is a good one or not. It’s challenging, unsettling, and will stay with you long after the last word on the final page.
Thanks for joining me on this stop of the This is Not the End blog tour, and don’t forget to…
- 1 winner will receive a copy of “This is Not the End” swag (signed copy and stickers) by Chandler Baker
- International giveaway, must be 13+ to enter