Friday, November 9, 2012
The Friday Review - Second Chances by Jeff Erno
Today's review is for Second Chances by Jeff Erno.
In a nutshell: OMG! I LOVED this story!
Harold Wainwright is dying. At seventy-nine, stricken with malignant cancer, the multi-billionaire insurance mogul realizes he has much to regret. In his youth he rejected his only true love and instead chose to advance his career and build his financial empire. Single-mindedly he focused upon achieving his own goals, looking out for number one, and acquiring a monetary fortune. Now he is alone, and all he has is his money…and his life is over.
Doctor Timothy Drayton has devoted his entire career to developing the technology to prolong human life. His entire focus has been upon creating a computer chip which can be implanted into the human brain, allowing human consciousness to be transferred from one human subject into the mind of another. Given optimum circumstances, he is confident that he can now preserve the consciousness of a dying patient into the mind of a donor subject with a surgically electronic implant.
Jesse Warren is eighteen years old, about to graduate from high school. He’s a track star, model student, and the typical all-American kid. One day while on his way to track practice, tragedy strikes, and Jesse is in a terrible accident, rendered comatose. When his family learns the horrifying news, they believe they’ve lost their son forever. Jesse Warren is pronounced “brain dead”.
When neurosurgeon and world-renowned brain specialist Dr. Timothy Drayton arrives, telling the Warren family that he has an advanced form of experimental treatment which can possibly save young Jesse and restore his consciousness, the Warrens are convinced that God has sent them a miracle. They are overjoyed the next morning when their son undergoes surgery and awakens as a new man. His memory loss, they are convinced, is amnesia due to his accident.Jesse lives, and is given a second chance. Will his new life prove to be the impetus for significant change, or will the old Harold Wainwright emerge to make the same mistakes a second time around? Most of us are given but one chance to make the right choices, but imagine if… there were such things as Second Chances.
It's odd, but last week I attended a highly scientific talk on how the cells of our bodies are shaped by their environment, and that down to the molecular level, we are "us" and can affect those around us. I must admit that a good deal of the information went straight over my head, but the gist of it, in my opinion, was that our identity is more than our mere consiousness. That said, I may have seen the character of Harold/Jesse differently for, to me, Jesse was still there on a very basic level, and Harold's miraculous change of heart was not only a product of his remorse, but of Jesse's subconsious influence.
At first I was leery of a man near eighty and an eighteen-year-old, but then, like I mentioned above, I think Harold became more of Jesse than he realized. And I absolutely adore redemption tales, so this book warmed my heart. I must admit that I didn't see the twist coming, but I rested assured that the author would provide a happy ending.
I read for many reasons: escape, pleasure, to learn, etc., but I also enjoy, from a sociologist standpoint, getting deep into another's mind, figuring out what makes them tick. In that aspect, I was drawn to the character of Doctor Timothy Drayton. Recently I read an article about how, if we compromise our principles once, it's easier the next time we reach a moral dilemma, and if we don't stop ourselves, we get mired further and further in behavior we would once have abhorred. That's what happened to the doctor, someone who wanted only to help at first, now descended to unscrupulous madness. And Jacob. Sigh. I just wanted to hug the guy. I didn't quite understand how the transferance between him and Philip happened at the end, but that didn't take away from my enjoyment. It happened, I cried, I smiled, I put the book down, having stayed up too late (again) to reach the very satisfying conclusion.
The bottom line is this: Jeff Erno gave me complex characters that I truly cared about, and a highly interesting story that kept me turning the pages. It's fantasy, it's sci-fi, it's touchingly sweet, a bit of thriller at times, and, even if Harold may not have deserved a happy ending, Harold/Jesse did. And you know what? We only see how bad Harold is through his own eyes and Timothy's. Some folks are pretty hard on themselves, and Timothy's opinion was colored by jealousy, so maybe Harold did deserve his second chance after all.