(The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch #1)
by Daniel Kraus
Hardcover, 656 pages
Published October 27th 2015 Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Goodreads | Amazon
May 7, 1896. Dusk. A swaggering seventeen-year-old gangster named Zebulon Finch is gunned down on the shores of Lake Michigan. But after mere minutes in the void, he is mysteriously resurrected.At a whopping 656 pages, Vol 1 spans a time of 1879-1941 America. Divided into 6 different parts it contains the diary of one Zebulon Finch. A boy raised in luxury, yet desired to run away for life on the streets. Running almost directly into service of the Black Hand as an enforcer of payments. Eventually being shot in the back and drowning. Only he doesn't die. Fished out of the river he continues to live on in his slowly decaying body for decades to come.
His second life will be nothing like his first.
Zebulon's new existence begins as a sideshow attraction in a traveling medicine show. From there, he will be poked and prodded by a scientist obsessed with mastering the secrets of death. He will fight in the trenches of World War I. He will run from his nightmares—and from poverty—in Depression-era New York City. And he will become the companion of the most beautiful woman in Hollywood.
Love, hate, hope, and horror—Zebulon finds them. But will he ever find redemption?
Ambitious and heartbreaking, The Death & Life of Zebulon Finch, Volume 1: At the Edge of Empire is the epic saga of what it means to be human in a world so often lacking in humanity
Zeb is not exactly a lovable character. At times you will find yourself wondering why you feel empathy for a boy who has done such horrendous things. On one hand he is entertaining, and the other very unpredictable. The story broken into sections really helped with the pacing of the story. There were times the story became a bit slow but it never become dull. As Zeb's afterlife continues he does move from place to place, but he tends to stay awhile. We get to be introduced to a lot of different characters, some play only short rolls in his life, while others becoming reoccurring throughout the story.
One thing that is a bit weird is of course, his decaying body. At times the reader will become almost ignorant to the fact as Zebulon lives out his days. Others, there is a focus on just this subject and maybe some caution paid to the details. Also a quick warning that there is a lot of focus on death, and at one point some descriptive taxidermy.
This is a book I highly recommend to fans of historical fiction. There are a couple of romantic relationships, although they are a bit unusual. Due to Zebulon's situation. There is a lot of focus on death, redemption and at times bitterly truthful.
I enjoy historical novels and this one is one of my favorites so far. I don't doubt that I will be re-reading it before the next volume comes out. It is entertaining and informative and really gives the true atmosphere of American society through the years.