A morbidly beautiful debut about the blessing/curse of immortality
Once in a great while, a story is published that can only be described as tragically intriguing or morbidly beautiful. Stories such as these are not the feel-good stories of the year. They are; however, well-thought out, descriptive, and beautifully written works to add to the ever-expanding library of the world. One such work is being published this May by a new writer through the online publishing company Inkshares. One of six winners of the Sword & Laser Collection Contest: Paul Inman’s debut novel Ageless.
Is eternal life a blessing or a curse? If someone was given the chance to live forever, would they take that chance? Alessandra was not given that choice. Instead, her genetic code gave her the ability to age so slowly that her life seemed immortal, aging drastically different than any other human being. Because of this, she has been on the run for decades from CIA agents. Everywhere she turns, she feels like she is being hunted and the people she trusts keep dying. Alessandra must find a reason to live, must find someone to trust. Is Grey Chapman the man who can help her find that reason to live… or help her find a way to finally die?
Ageless is a difficult story to describe to another reader. It has a lot of information in less than 300 pages, the chapters are not numbered and they read in nonlinear order, and the story as a whole takes place over roughly about eight decades. If someone were to describe it as such, one would probably think the story was scattered and disorganized, choosing to probably not read it at all. However, this is fortunately not the case. Ageless is a debut for the ages and Inman is a talented new writer for readers to watch out for for future works.
On the very first page, readers will immediately take note of Inman’s writing style. Unlike many writers of today, writing short paragraphs and giving short snippets of detail for the speed readers who are always in a rush, Inman takes the time and writes long paragraphs with a lot of descriptive detail. This use of detail paints a beautiful picture within the readers’ minds to the point that it almost reads like a movie. He remains consistent with his descriptions throughout the entire story and the paragraphs flow smoothly from chapter to chapter.
One such example of a beautiful paragraph can be found on page 105. In the 1950s, CIA agent Tony Richards is looking for Alessandra in South Carolina. One of the rookie deputies, Jack Wilson, invites Tony over for dinner. His wife Virginia (nicknamed Ginny) makes the men a wonderful southern meal and, while cleaning up, Tony watches Jack show a subtle, yet beautiful act of his love for his wife and is sad, believing he would never be able to have a love like that. “In that moment he could have loved her, except she wouldn’t have returned his love. Jack came from nowhere, showering his wife with affection in the form of a beautifully choreographed spin into a sensual dip that ended with a resonant gaze deep into her soul and a light kiss on the mouth. Ginny forgot the world around her, closed her eyes, and drew air deep into her lungs, breathing in pure love. She held it there for a beat and then exhaled, feeling emotions race through her entire body, causing tingling to erupt from her toes to her nose. She felt as if the world spun only for her. In that moment, it did” (Inman 105).
The characters within the story are easy to keep track of, Inman keeping the main characters down to a minimum. Surprisingly, the story is about Alessandra, but Inman focuses more on the characters who are either trying to help her or trying to find her. This can be a bit of a letdown at times when readers want to learn more about Alessandra, and yet, it is nice to learn what is going on in the other characters’ heads.
Along with the ease of keeping up with the characters, Inman also does an amazing job at making it clear what decade each chapter is set in. It is interesting that the chapters are not numbered. Instead, each chapter gives the readers a decade, the historical events that happen within that decade, the exact year the chapter takes place in that decade, and the state or country the characters are in. Readers are also given a diagram of all of the decades the book finds itself in and four to five significant historical events that happened within each of the decades. This is all organized in a unique timeline in the front of the book. There are even created events that Inman made up for the 2020s and the technology he created for the near future is not way ahead of its time and is actually incredibly realistic and believable.
It is a difficult story to describe to future readers, but Ageless is a story that needs to be shared. It is a descriptive and detailed story that cannot and should not be told in chronological order, a story with minimal characters and does not solely focus on the main immortal character, and a story that is not a feel-good story, but one that is morbidly beautiful. Then again, any story that involves World War II is most certainly a tragic story for it truly was the darkest hour of history. Stories such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s Ark are tragic, yet beautiful stories that are considered classics now. Ageless follows this tragically beautiful theme and it is a wonderful occurrence that it was one of the winners of the Sword & Laser Collection Contest for now it can be published and shared with readers everywhere.
Originally published at www.examiner.com on April 25, 2016.