Title: The Waiting Room
Author: Alysha Kaye
Publication date: July 1, 2014
Alysha Kaye is an author and English teacher from Texas who provided me with a copy of her upcoming book in exchange for an honest review. As an English teacher myself, I felt an obligation to support her in her novelistic endeavor – plus, her book sounded amazing. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on The Waiting Room, which turned out to be an absolute delight to read.
First, a brief summary from the author’s website:
Jude and Nina are the epitome of that whole raw, unflinching love thing that most people are jealous of. That is, until Jude dies and wakes up in The Waiting Room, surrounded by other souls who are all waiting to pass over into their next life. But unlike those souls, Jude’s name is never called by the mysterious “receptionist”. He waits, watching Nina out of giant windows. He’s waiting for her. What is this place? How long will he wait? And what will happen when and if Nina does join him? The Waiting Room is a story of not just love, but of faith, predestination, and philosophy, friendship and self-actualization, of waiting.
My first reaction was that this book reminded me a lot of one of my other favorite books about a non-traditional yet mythical afterlife, Gabrielle Zevin’s Elsewhere. While The Waiting Room isn’t a young adult novel, it still has the same whimsicality and airiness of Elsewhere. The tone is comedic and entertaining, although the novel has some serious issues at its heart. Throughout the book, Jude and Nina struggle with how to maintain their relationship and have faith that they’ll always be able to find each other again, even though they have no idea what makes them so special that they are allowed to wait for each other in the Waiting Room before every round of reincarnation. It should be a heart-wrenching story by all accounts, and at times it is, but the lightness of the tone and the comedic interludes help create a fine balance.
I liked how, when they were reincarnated, they could end up not only wherever but whenever. I liked how not everyone went through that particular waiting room – it would make sense, in a world where every deceased individual passes through the waiting area, that they wouldn’t all fit in one. I liked how suddenly characters I grow to love were ripped from the story – which really nailed the point that life is short and time is precious. I liked how the tone, throughout, was casual – like the characters narrating were sitting next to me and telling me their story.
One thing I found awkward was the change in perspectives. At first, the book is only told from Jude’s perspective, but after a while, it switches to third person briefly. Later, it shifts to be mostly from Nina’s perspective, though occasionally it jumps back to Jude’s. I can understand why certain characters needed to be the primary perspective for certain parts of the book, but it was slightly off-putting until I got used to it. I think the other thing that could have been improved upon was that I wanted more showing and less telling. Some parts of the novel were very dialogue-heavy or very exposition-heavy. Kaye’s story is deftly woven and her imagery is vivid and imaginative, and I wanted more of that.
I think my final comment is that The Waiting Room built characters that I cared about. I cared about not only Jude and Nina but supporting characters as well. I even cared about the Waiting Room itself and was glad to see how it changed and grew throughout the book. Fantasy lovers, romance lovers, lovers of a thoughtful story – all of these readers will enjoy The Waiting Room. I wish the book success and I hope to read more by Alysha Kaye in the future.
The Waiting Room will be available on Amazon on July 1. Be sure to visit Kaye’s website to learn more.
4 out of 5 stars.