Book Review: 'The New World'

May 6, 2015
Originally published on May 6, 2015 7:55 pm
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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Two to make a marriage and two to make a novel about a marriage. Reviewer Alan Cheuse has just picked up the new book by Chris Adrian and Eli Horowitz. Alan says it leads readers on an inventive journey for both hearts and minds. It's called "The New World."

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: You don't cross an ocean to get to this new world. You die and someone freezes your head until sometime in the future when science finds a way to revive you. That's what happens to a fellow named Jim, who serves as a chaplain at the same Manhattan hospital where his wife Jane works as a surgeon. When Jane learns after Jim's death that he's arranged to have his head cut off and frozen by a company called Polaris, she fights to get Jim's head back, which draws her deeper and deeper into a plan to infiltrate this company.

Meanwhile, in alternate chapters, we follow the late Jim, who's mentally alive somewhere in the future. Sounds sci-fi-ish, this book, but "The New World" is really the story of a difficult marriage and the love and stuff that holds it together or nearly breaks it apart until death and perhaps even beyond.

These two writers take the long view for readers to ponder on the nature of love and intimations of eternity. As you move along in this novel, you get the feeling that, as we heard in "A Space Odyssey" - well, so maybe the novel's a little sci-fi-ish - that something wonderful is about to happen, even as something wonderful takes place right in front of us on almost every charming, idiosyncratic, thought-provoking page.

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BLOCK: That novel is "The New World" by Chris Adrian and Eli Horowitz. Alan Cheuse had our review. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.