“Paul Reid died in the snow at seventeen. The day of his death, he told a lie—and for the rest of his life, he wondered if that was what killed him.”
And so begins the battle for the afterlife, known as The Commons. It’s been taken over by a corporate raider who uses the energy of its souls to maintain his brutal control. The result is an imaginary landscape of a broken America—stuck in time and overrun by the heroes, monsters, dreams, and nightmares of the imprisoned dead.
Three people board a bus to nowhere: a New York street kid, an Iraq War veteran, and her five-year-old special-needs son. After a horrific accident, they are the last, best hope for The Commons to free itself. Along for the ride are a shotgun-toting goth girl, a six-foot-six mummy, a mute Shaolin monk with anger-management issues, and the only guide left to lead them.
Three Journeys: separate but joined. One mission: to save forever.
But first they have to save themselves.
Peck weaves a concept of the afterlife that's equal parts action and allegory into this intense debut novel. Seventeen-year-old Paul, fleeing poverty in New York City and seeking his identity in San Francisco, boards a bus with Iraq War veteran Annie and her young son, Zach. When their bus crashes, all three are sent to the Commons, a realm between life and death where souls go on journeys to determine their ultimate fate. But thanks to the Ravagers and their leader, Mr. Brill, the Commons is in disarray, controlled by their sinister corporation. Paul must embark on a journey of his own to save the most vital part of reality. Peck's message couldn't be clearer in his depiction of Brill's perverse business machinations, which destroy lives in order to ensure his continued grasp on ultimate power in an obvious metaphor for America in an era of barely checked capitalism. Peck also distinguishes himself with the creation of Zach, a neuroatypical character whose contributions do not come in spite of being autistic, but because of it. That success, plus scenes of intense action and fantastical creativity, make Peck an author to watch. (BookLife)