The Thanatonauts
book — France — 1994

Actually I read this book as the last of the "Thanatonauts" trilogy, but it somehow has happened that I write about it first in my factoid, which seems to be very logical. Michen Penson is a young man who works as a doctor and who has experienced coma when he was a child. His friend Raul Razobraque is a young man who works as a biologist and who`s father was writing a book about death until he commited suicide. Together Michel and Raul try to find out what`s death really all about (so in some ways this is similar to "The meaning of life"). What they find out is that after death (or in case of falling into a special kind of coma) soul of a person leaves the body and starts a journey to heaven. So they want to learn more about this journey. When the French president nearly dies and experiences such a state he hires Raul to become the explorer of the unknown continent of the dead that happens to be if not 100% material than at least reachable before returing back. In order to pass the seven heavens Michel and Raul (but mostly people working for them, for they themselves don`t go into death before the last pages of the book) have to join forces with all religions for monks can also go to heaven and come back, fight a war in the land of the dead and rescue Michel`s dying wife. This all is "enriched" by adding some facts about what different religions have been saying about death. In short, the book was quite exciting to read, yet it wasn`t a great book. I believe that Werber achieved his best with the second book of the series - "The Empire of the Angels" while here he aims too much for action scenes. His characters are okay, yet they don`t get too much development and even the central character isn`t really consistent. The storytelling also has a few lapses - having too much repetition of moments like "thautonautics was on the rise" and "thautonautics wasn`t too popular then" (such sentences appear periodically and way too often). I also don`t like Werber messing too much around with all religions. Still the book ain`t bad it could be better.
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