Every once in awhile, a book will come along that changes how I feel about the fiction I consume. Raises the bar, as it were. Eleanor is one of those books that makes me consider how I've rated books in the past. Based on how much I loved this book, I've obviously rated some books five stars when they haven't deserved them. Because this one is now high on my list of the best novels I've had the pleasure of reading. Definitely it is in my top ten.
Eleanor takes a detailed and unflinching look at grief and depression and how those bastards affect us and the people around us. There is an explanation for depression in this book that was fascinating. I don't believe the explanation in a real-world sense, but I believe in this version of it, the one in Gurley's world, the one he creates in this book. I feel that, in the world of Eleanor, depression is most definitely created by such things. In other words, I found truth in the fiction. My suspension of disbelief was so complete that I started considering how plausible Gurley's world might be, which might sound silly, but such was the level of my immersion. That's some powerful fiction, kids. For a brief instant, I understood how so many people could read the bible and believe in invisible, infallible deities, eternal hellfire, and never ending paradise.
What I really found captivating was Gurley's ability to paint vivid landscapes and vibrant images that I simply could not put out of my mind. I was on an adventure, sightseeing in worlds previously unknown to me. This book had some of the coolest set pieces I've ever come across. And I mean ever. As redundant as that is, this is, truthfully, the most beautiful book I have ever read. Gurley created crystal clear vistas, and made darkness tangible. This book is, simply put, pure magic and illusion. Reading it made me feel like a kid again. Thank you, Jason Gurley. I mean that.
My one criticism is that I knew who everyone was the moment they were introduced. You'll likely understand what I mean when you read this book. And you should. It's something I want everyone to experience, young and old.
In summation: Eleanor was sent to me by Crown Publishing in exchange for this review, but I wish they hadn't. I wish I had found this on my own and that I had paid for this book so that I didn't have to tarnish my review with that disclaimer. I've given Crown's books anywhere from one to five stars, but this is hands down the best I've read from their publishing house. And, Dear Jason Gurley, you have a new fan. I will consume everything you write in the future and everything you've written in the past. Bravo.
Final Judgment: If you like the sound of What Dreams May Come as written by Neil Gaiman, you'll love this book.