Genre: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism
Number of Pages: 314
Publication Date: December 1, 2016
Rating: out of 5
OBC Rating: 4 out of 4 stars
Themes: WWII, Loss, Immortality
To Learn More About the Book, Click: The Diary of an Immortal (1945-1958) on OBC Bookshelves
**Even better, this will be February 2016 Book of the Month on OnlineBookClub!**
Twenty-one-year-old Steven Ronson is finally ending his service as a U.S. Army medic during WWII. He has seen many atrocities and has lost countless friends. As he enters the Dachau Concentration Camp with his comrades to liberate the prisoners, he discovers something unreal – oddly-colored pills and a letter to Hitler stating that these are pills can make someone immortal.
Desiring to live as long as possible, young Steven begins taking the pills. When he returns to the states, he attempts to make a dream of his come true – to be a saxophone player. However, once he begins having strange and obscure visions, he is forced into an adventure he will never forget. One involving diving deep into China and its culture. One that will lead to the most severe consequences.
What drew me to the book was the WWII aspect. Right now, I am experiencing this drive to know more of this tragic time in history. I am happy to say David J Castello does a fabulous job in weaving some important, and for me new, historical facts that I found myself researching about this information.
Some information I learned about while reading:
- Dachau Concentration Camp
- 1937 Nanking Massacre
- Japanese bombing Yan’an (referred to as Yenan in the book)
- Maria Orsic
When I can learn something from a text, then I’m pretty much hooked.
On top of the amount of information gathered in this read, Castello does an amazing job in weaving in the immortality piece. Immortality here is not like a vampire immortality. In this case, the one taking the pills will live essentially forever. There was one point in the story where I thought the author might have focused on it too much, but he was able to get bring the story right back me shortly after.
Steven is very well developed, as well as the other main characters. There were a couple of times when I questioned an unfamiliar Chinese name, unsure of who or what it was, but these did not seem to matter. The main thing is I was able to keep track of the important characters easily and saw how they all tied in with one another.
The only other aspect that I would give a heads up to future readers is the brief discussion of Jesus Christ’s origin. I will be the first to admit that it did bother me for two reasons. First, I don’t believe it. Second, it didn’t really add to the story very much and could have easily been taken out.
As a warning: there are some pretty disturbing and gruesome scenes here. Scenes of killing/murder, torture, an almost rape scene, cannibalism, and the discussion of the underworld.
Overall, I was held captive to this read right from the beginning, and even with a few minor errors, I simply enjoyed it.