Nine year old Nate has died. But where does he go from here? Five year old Jesse just wants his family back together. How can he halt his father’s descent into self-destruction? In Under-Heaven we follow these two young souls as they struggle to understand and deal with dilemmas that would test the very best of us.
This is story telling on an epic scale. It is a deeply moving tale that explores some of the most profound aspects of our world, life, death, love, loss and the very nature of existence. All of this is done in an entertaining and engaging way.
Most of the story is told from the perspective of young Nate and Jesse who, perhaps, represent the children in all of us. This point of view ensures that the weighty issues considered here are accessible to all readers, in much the same way that Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder was able to make Philosophy more accessible.
The skilfully described scenes give Under-Heaven a realism that it may have lacked in the hands of a less talented writer. Similarly, the earth bound scenes and characters are very well drawn. This means that the whole story keeps its feet firmly planted in the reality of everyday life. A reality we can all relate to. The murder mystery elements of the story are equally well constructed. This allows the narrative to cross genre boundaries without detracting from the central themes of the story. The important characters were all well-defined, having both depth and multi-dimensionality.
I did feel that a couple of the threads were a little confused. It was as if the author had decided that those ideas may be better examined in another story. This, however, merely altered the rhythm of the piece for a time. Ultimately, this was a well constructed, moving and thought provoking story. At times it was a little heavy going as a result of the themes it deals with but, well worth the effort.
A great book from a very talented writer