As a friend suggested, this book would be better if about 200 pages were edited out of it. There's just too much repetition of material that does not move the story forward, and this is a common thing in Willis's novels--that purposeless, frenetic activity going on all around.
But the story is compelling, and the ending hopeful, if ambiguous (as perhaps it ought to be). As a Christian, I was frustrated with many of the presuppositions--mocking those who believe in a spiritual existence beyond death, with all the best characters being "agnostic" if not overtly skeptical. The characters are also very limited, even the "stars," who have almost no existence outside the workplace or, in one case, a home. For example, the main character has many meals through the book, but almost all of them are from vending machines, and not one at home, that I can recall. I expect those who know WWII history, Titanic history, hospital routine, or neuroscience are at first attracted and then probably frustrated at errors I had an inkling of as I read.
But I hate to miss something good, and so I plodded along through too many pages to get to what was a pretty satisfying finish. I'm usually pretty picky about my reading in advance, and I expect that this is a much better novel than the usual out there. So enjoy! :-)
It felt like it took me ages to finish this book, even though it took just the weekend.
Like other readers, I could have done without the endless descriptions of the hospital. I also think that the rambling of Joanna's inner thoughts and dialogue could have been cleaned up a bit.
I hate to say it about Connie Willis, since I love her other novels so much, but this book was a real bore. The only parts that were interesting were the descriptions of NDEs.
I especially found the last part of the book to be a real drag. I kepy saying to myself, "Get to the point, Connie!"
I wish this was a short story, rather than a novel. It probably would have made more sense to keep it short and sweet and yet still creepy.
Overall, I would not recommend this book as it is now. A condensed version? Yes, please!
Great book, very intersting subject (near death experience)