Luke is trapped in an unhappy life that he knows he brought upon himself. When he is killed in a car accident, he is given the choice to return to Earth as a ghost.
But when Luke becomes the mentor to an angry ghost, Safia, he realises the rules can be broken. They can interfere with human lives. Safia has an agenda: rid the world of crime and violence, by killing anyone who commits a violent crime.
When events escalate, Luke faces questions of good and evil and must decide in his heart what is the right thing to do.
Author: Liam Card
Starting a book with someone haunting their own funeral, witnessing break-downs (that have nothing to do with his death), affairs and fantasies made me think I was going to be in for a fun read with Stopgap.
That was true for the first half. Luke accepts what happened in his life and moves on. But the novel takes a very sharp turn towards serious themes with attempts at comedy (characters telepathically sending each other medals) and the huge question of good and evil comes into play.
Luke must decide whether millions should die because of a crime, past crime or even thinking a violent thought. Light-heartedness disappeared!
Luke was a good character; he had his flaws and doubts but ultimately had a good heart. He questioned things, leading the reader to empathise with him.
Safia wasn’t the bad guy in the traditional sense; she just had a messed up moral compass and no incentive to change, not even at the end given her alternative choice. Their relationship was a fun dynamic to read and stopped the plot from becoming too serious.
With a first-person narration, this could have been an intense book as Luke weighs up the right course of action. The pace was slow and at times, didn’t feel like it was progressing forward. Given the themes being contemplated, this made the book drag at times.
While I enjoyed Stopgap, it annoyed me. The telepathic sending of gifs, memes, documents, medals and anything else you can think of was fun to start with, but it grew tiresome, especially when it was used to replace dialogue.
Stopgap is full of moral themes. Responsibility, the death penalty, good vs evil etc to name just a few. This book could be good for book clubs, for instance, as a way of sparking off a potentially heated debate depending on whether readers think Safia is justified in her actions or not. Personally, I think she went too far.
The fact the characters are ghosts helps the reader distance themselves from the themes – and again is a way of stopping the book being too heavy-going. Popping to the moon for a quick chat helps break the tension!
This book was not what I expected, but I enjoyed it for the most part.