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And William J. Barry does it again with book two of his series, Sebastian and the Afterlife with Agents of the Reaper.
For those of you who are not familiar with this middle grade series, Sebastian is a teen who died too young before he lived a full life. In the Afterlife, he had the opportunity to work of the Grim Reaper and be an Agent, helping Grim to stop pirates, soul takers/traders, led by Axis Red. He is being mentored by my book crush, Alexander, and Sebastian is proving to be a great asset to the organization.
In book 2, Sebastian has the misfortune of being kidnapped by Red together with Sid, a professor in Sapentia (Reaper Academy). But with Alexander and the rest of the agency's help, they were able to create a rescue team and save Sebastian and Sid. What they don't know is that they have been infiltrated and this person's traitorous agenda will unfold in Book 3.
Here is why I like this series, it talks about death but not in the morbid way. It talks about the Afterlife and a possibility that some of us would like to believe in. Call it Romanticism but especially for this series' target audience, it is a good alternative to help pre-teens cope with loss. It doesn't matter what your religious beliefs are, it helps soften the blow of losing someone forever and the idea that they're not floating mindlessly in oblivion somewhere is comforting.
In this book, WJBarry gives us an alternative reality that our dearly departed suffers the same loss and helplessness we feel since death is permanent. Sebastian is protective of his little sister, knowing that she's going out with a rogue and will definitely get her heart broken but there's nothing he can do to stop that wheel from turning.Or Sarah, his girlfriend whom he left behind, how painful it is for Sebastian to see her move on but at the same time he knows it's for the best. Or the brothers Jack and Ben, the former appearing on the latter's dream, hoping to impart some wisdom and guidance so the latter won't spiral down in notoriety.
It might sound whimsical but for those of us who have suffered the loss of someone close and very dear to us, I'd like to think that their "lives" go on albeit on a different plane and that they have not truly abandoned us. That they are watching over and guiding us from disaster.
William J. Barry's books are available in Amazon and The Writer's Coffee Shop.