I would consider ‘Reviver’, Seth Patrick’s debut novel, a supernatural thriller. The protagonist, Jonah Miller, works for the Forensic Revival Service as a reviver who brings people back from the dead for a time in order to gain as much information about their killers as possible, or to help the dead say goodbye to loved ones. It is a worldwide phenomenon that is little understood and is even challenged by a group called Afterlifers as they fight for the rights of the dead to remain honoured.
The conflict in this story centres on the murder of Daniel Harker who first interviewed a reviver and brought it to the world, which through the investigation, leads to more sinister goings-on within the military that use revivers and to the possibility that the dead, wherever they reside, are also not alone. And in a way that could threaten everything, even the living.
So you could see why I would consider it a supernatural thriller. The concept of revival and the idea of balancing death, politics, economics and ethics together were well done; it made the novel feel more full-bodied by including elements that would relate to today’s capitalist society. It sounds rather ambitious too, though this book is set to become part of a trilogy by Patrick, so that ambition hopefully will pay off and solidify this novel with its future ones. However, I believe the thrilling elements are rather lacking within the first half of the novel. The pace and tone is rather slow as it backgrounds the history of revival and Jonah’s life story. Again, this novel is planned as part of a trilogy, so this background is definitely essential for later novels. However, it did bog the pace down in the first half for me.
I would say the tone and chills did come faster in the second half of this novel. I enjoyed the intensity of knowing what it was like for a reviver to pull a soul out of wherever it was and bring it back to a body for a short period of time. The best part for me in this novel was that Jonah Miller was a more realistic protagonist and hero; he is flawed, positively human, with moods and bad decisions and all. His closest friend, Never Geary is delightful also, maybe almost stealing the spotlight from Jonah with his energy and humour. And I love realistic heroes that are just as flawed as everybody else; it means that you are always unsure how they may react to a situation that basically Superman just yawns at. This could be deemed negatively by readers who like more over-the-top or even just more animated characters (Jonah can be very ‘glum’ at times), but I actually find this difference more refreshing.
I enjoyed the layering of the characters and the fact that they are all as flawed and real as its readers; the concept and supernatural theme of the book is also solid, though it will take a little while to possibly get involved in this read. The ending itself is also fairly solid, and if this wasn’t going to be a trilogy, I believe the end would have made for a classic horror-novel ending. I just hope the same tensions and realisms in this novel are carried through in the subsequent ones.