Ending Forever by Nicholas Conley is a short, fast-paced sci-fi read that deals with topics like death and loss. The author approached me and offered a free copy of the book, and I appreciate that. Below we’ll dive into the details of the book and what made it enjoyable.
I must say the short synopsis immediately grabbed me. Who doesn’t want to see what’s on the other side of death? I know I do, and I find it a fascinating topic. Regardless of religious beliefs and representation of the afterlife, I mean. So, I was excited to read through it and see what the author’s come up with. Let’s see where that led me.
Ending Forever: The Plot
Axel Rivers has lost everything. Drowning in debt and at a dead-end point in his life, desperate for cash, he goes to Kindred Eternal Solutions – your reliable evil-corp trope, established by the six wealthiest people in the world. They claim to have found the way to eternal life and now need people to test it on.
That’s how Axel Rivers dies, finding himself in an incomprehensible deathscape, housing a nightmare – the so-called Stranger that comes after Axel in earnest. The first death leaves him more depressed and feeling like there’s no way out. That’s when he meets Brooklyn – a fellow participant, a single mother who’s gone through a lot of hardships.
They click immediately, but disaster strikes again. And now Axel must find a way back into the deathscape and face the Stranger in a final showdown if he wants to save the scraps of “good” left in his life.
Characters & World
Ending Forever by Nicholas Conley is a story about loss, grief, and pain, and coming to terms with all of it. What I like about the book is that you could feel the pain the characters felt was real, somehow relatable. Still, I think the book was too short to make you really invest in those characters.
Or the world itself. Ending Forever has a huge potential, when it comes to worldbuilding, but it felt unexplored. While reading, I wanted to see more of that impossible deathscape, the creatures that lived there, disturbed now by the presence of humans. The book leaned toward raising philosophical questions rather than exploring the impossible itself.
But the main reason this book gets only 3* is a stylistic choice (and maybe an editing problem, but I can’t be sure). First of all, there was a lot of tense jumping – a couple of chapters past tense, a couple of chapters present tense. I get that it’s probably been made like that to differentiate between different “planes of existence”. But it was a huge obstacle for my immersion.
The second thing, and I don’t know if that’s a formatting problem or it’s intended, but the main character’s inner monologue came suddenly and unannounced. There was nothing, no italics, no quotes, nothing to signal when the narrative has shifted and the narrator’s changed. One sentence goes like “He, Axel, so and so…” and the next is “I so and so”. And that constantly pulled me out of the story.
Should You Read Ending Forever?
I’m a sucker for immersion, a catchy premise and interesting concepts won’t be enough if I can’t soak in them, and something constantly pulls me out of the narrative. And the book didn’t do it for me in that department. That being said, it did have a lot of potential and themes to explore. If immersion is not what you’re seeking, give it a shot. Be aware that in Ending Forever Nicholas Conley explores topics like death, suicide, death of a loved one (several ones), guilt, and depression, among other trigger warnings.