Following the catastrophic ending in Thursday Midnight (of the “Immortal Wake” series), Jonas is pretty much left to his own devices. Because of what he has witnessed he embarks on a journey of discovery, only it’s not the type of discovery that he has envisioned for himself. As with all journeys, he begins to understand that perhaps the society of Eternals is not what he came to believe, which in turn forces him to question some of his actions and the motives behind those actions that transpired in both books Transient and Thursday Midnight.
I’ll be honest dear readers. This is one of the hardest reviews I have ever had to write. First, I need to be careful in not revealing any story content that might be of a spoiler-y nature with any of these books. Second, and I did express this in my review for Thursday Midnight, I am not a fan of the post-apocalyptic story. While there is a huge audience for dystopian science fiction, I cannot count myself as part of that crowd. I prefer to believe in the possibility of a Utopia that humanity has the potential for bringing about. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, here are a few things that I can say about The Mortal Vestige.
This story is more of a coda to the events in books 1 and 2 of “Immortal Wake.” Aside from not being a very long book, the nature of Jonas’ journey allows for him, and the reader, to perhaps take into account the definition of “humanity.” What does it mean to have humanity, and what is precisely our expected role as caretakers, Humans or Eternals, of this blue marble out in space? Just when Jonas has come to an idea as to what life is all about he is given a surprise that forces him to take a step back and go through a lot of re-evaluation. What we see is a man who thought he could serve both what was left of Humanity and Eternal society in a way that would go down through the ages, but instead he is nothing more than what any of us are. Someone who is deeply flawed. Jonas is no better or worse than any of the rest of us, and it will take him this enormous journey before he even begins to discover the true hubris of his past actions.
Author Zachry Wheeler has written some truly compelling work, and while Thursday Midnight was likened to a thrill ride, The Mortal Vestige is a much calmer story as the reader follows Jonas on his journey of discovery. That does not take away from how equally compelling this book is. I just could not put it down because I felt I was seeing the world and life through new eyes alongside Jonas. This book is a psychological study into the human mind when trying to reconcile personal tragedy (as a result of the shocking ending of book 2) vs. living. Not just surviving, but living. Because of the story’s focus on Jonas, the heavy plot development technique used in Thursday Midnight sort of takes a back seat to a more character-driven type of storytelling. Wheeler managed to generate within me a sense of empathy when it came to Jonas. It has been said that the best science fiction stories can do more than just entertain. They can also educate. Reading The Mortal Vestige forced me to take a look at the world I live in and the society I’m a part of. By doing so Wheeler has somehow managed to elevate The Mortal Vestige from just being a science fiction story into a work of art, and the best art will always leave you changed after you’ve experienced it. I was left with a very profound feeling when I finished reading it, and I would very much like to believe that this profound feeling will leave me changed for the better.
The Mortal Vestige is available in paperback at Amazon, will be available on Kindle Friday, February 14, 2020, and can be pre-ordered here.