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Westlake Soul Paperback – May 14 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: ChiZine (May 14 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1926851552
  • ISBN-13: 978-1926851556
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.9 x 18.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #538,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Lorina Stephens TOP 500 REVIEWER on Dec 15 2013
Format: Paperback
If you haven't heard of Rio Youers before, you need to go out right now and look up Westlake Soul, purchase it in whatever form you prefer, arm yourself with handkerchief or tissues, and settle down for a story that will shatter you with its beauty, elegance and raw honesty.

Similar in emotional impact and tone to Mitch Alboum's The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Youers' novel takes the reader into the world of former surfer, Westlake Soul, who is now in a vegetative state from a catastrophic surfing accident. Told in first person, mostly stream-of-consciousness, this is an ambitious novel delivered with such ease and simplicity it's as though Westlake himself sits beside you, telling you his tale.

And although the novel is pigeon-holed as science fiction, it is far more, part magic-realism, mostly stunning literary fiction.

The only caveat I would have is not to read this in public spaces, because people will wonder about the nervous breakdown you're having.

Well done, Rio Youers!
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Format: Paperback
Spun my world upside down and sucked me through kaleidescope windows into worlds and emotions I didn't know existed. Hold tight. The journey of Westlake will linger at the edge of your periphery ever after. He will champion you in your darkest moments and you won't ever regret having him there.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 32 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Sad, thrilling, and ultimately uplifting April 16 2012
By Adam Cesare - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Rio Youers' WESTLAKE SOUL is one of the very few books I've ever finished and said to myself "I'm going to read this again some day." There are just too many books I want to get to, and not enough hours in my life to go re-reading everything I liked. But I didn't like Westlake Soul, I loved it.

WESTLAKE SOUL is the story of Westlake, a twenty-three year old surfer, who's put into a persistent vegetative state by a surfing accident. The catch is that the novel is narrated by Westlake himself, he's been trapped in his boy, but his mind is working better than it ever has. Westlake's accident has "flipped the iceberg" of his mind, allowing him powers of perception far beyond human limits (for example, he can talk to the family dog and can "release" a projection of himself to anywhere in the universe), but still his body languishes on life-support and his family is beginning to give up hope.

The central conceit is a good one, but the novel wouldn't be half of what it is if not for Westlake himself. Youers has crafted a character that can relate this immensely sad premise without letting the novel feel too dour. Westlake is optimistic, funny, affably self-assured, while still feeling flawed enough to be a real person.

That's not to suggest that WESTLAKE is some kind of romp, it's not. In fact, if the book goes to some very dark places and if it doesn't bring you to the verge of tears at least once, I'm going to wager that you're dead inside.

I sat on this review for a few days, I'd finished the last 100 pages or so in one long sitting and immediately took to twitter and Goodreads to gush. So many superlatives were bubbling up in my mind ("Best book eva 4 real!"), so I told myself to take a chill pill and compose my review in a few days. Well the time has elapsed, and I still love this book. I think all that time to think on it has actually enhanced my appreciation for it.

What a great book. Pick it up ASAP, you'll thank me.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one. - Khalil Gibran Jan. 15 2014
By Cheryl Stout - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A little over two years ago, Westlake Soul was in a terrible surfing accident. And he suffers a traumatic brain injury. This book is his story, told from a permanent vegetative state, about his life prior to, and especially after, the accident.

As you can imagine, this isn't an easy book to read. The reader not only reads about Westlake's thoughts and feelings but reads about the devastating impact on his family.

But this isn't meant to be a depressing book but a story of wisdom of exploring life and death, a look at hope, and most of all, the journey that Westlake takes after his accident and the insights he reaches along the way. It's a "what if?" story.

This is a deeply touching story, one that I will remember for a long time. I laughed, I was angry, I cheered, and yes, I cried.

Author Youers writes this fantastical tale, with beautiful phrasing and an instinctual feeling for the story's path, that draws the reader in and leaves us wrung out and depleted yet filled with a lightness at the tale's end.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Life and death April 20 2012
By TChris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
After a surfing accident, Westlake Soul woke up with "the most powerful mind on the planet, but a body like a wet paper bag." According to his doctor, Wes is in a persistent vegetative state. Wes' parents take him home, resisting his doctor's suggestion that it might be better to let him die. Yet Wes is cognizant, aware of his surroundings; he just can't express his awareness or interact with those around him. At least he can't interact in a conventional sense. West has some new abilities: astral projection, telepathic communication with animals, fluency in all languages, but not the ability to communicate with or control humans (although he can read their thoughts, something he rarely does). He can watch Angelina Jolie take a shower, he can hover in the background while Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello jam at a party, but he can't tell anyone that his brain is still alive. He struggles frequently with death, in the form of Dr. Quietus, while his parents cope with the pain of living with an apparently brain-dead child. You know where this is going, right?

Wes is convinced that he will eventually overcome his disabling condition, that he will speak and surf again, while the reader suspects that Wes is unable to accept his fate, to process the knowledge that his consciousness will always be trapped inside a dysfunctional shell. When things get tough for Wes, he projects himself to a calmer place: a rainforest, a waterfall, the moon. Of course, the reader wonders whether this is a defense mechanism, blissful imagination replacing horrid reality.

There are moments when Westlake Soul strives to be literary but most of the time the prose is active and edgy, conveying the story's emotion rather than the beauty of language. Emotions pervade the story. Love is at its center, but sorrow and loss and anger and fear provide the context. Wes remembers the love of a girlfriend who, understandably, is now gone from his life. He experiences a new love for his second caregiver. He loves his family and, of course, the dog whose mind he can now read. These people (and the dog) love Wes in return, making the decision they must reach all the more difficult. It is a testament to Rio Youers' skill that the emotions he evokes are sometimes so powerful that story becomes difficult to read.

Although the novel is driven by love, it's more fundamentally about life and death, with life at the forefront. Learning to live, according to Wes, means learning to conquer fear. As I was reading Westlake Soul, I had some concern that it would turn into a polemic, fuel for the wrongheaded politicians who condemned Terri Schiavo's husband for discontinuing her life support, who thought they knew more about her cognitive ability than her doctors did. That concern was unwarranted. The novel doesn't advocate for the religious right. Quite the opposite, given Wes' nonjudgmental nature and his realization that as important as it is to fight for life, it is equally important not to fear death.

There are times when Westlake Soul dances on the edge of melodrama. There are times when Wes is so unselfish and forgiving as to strain credulity -- at least until he does something, late in the novel, that reveals a minor but all-too-human flaw. Despite its faults, Westlake Soul did what good literature should do: it moved me. From the beginning to the end, Westlake Soul touched me emotionally in a way that cheesy melodrama never does. I tip my hat to Youers for writing such a powerful and convincing story.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Everyone must read this book April 19 2012
By EssieB - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I began reading this book on a whim. I'm a cataloger at a public library, and it came in the delivery a few days ago. Honestly, the cover didn't appeal to me (it looked like a typical sci-fi novel) but when I started paging through the book, as catalogers do, all these beautiful sentences kept popping out at me. Breathtaking, heart-stopping sentences.
This book is so beautifully crafted.
Needless to say, by 50 pages in I had already cried three times.
Don't miss this one. This is the only book I have ever felt compelled to review. And I read A LOT of books.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful, breath-taking, sad and uplifting - highly recommended! March 31 2012
By K. Sozaeva - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Disclosure: I received a free eGalley eBook ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: "All superheroes get their powers from somewhere. A radioactive spider bite. A science experiment gone awry. I got mine from a surfing accident in Tofino. The ultimate wipeout. I woke up with the most powerful mind on the planet, but a body like a wet paper bag. . . ."

Meet Westlake Soul, a twenty-three-year-old former surfing champion. A loving son and brother. But if you think he's just a regular dude, think again; Westlake is in a permanent vegetative state. He can't move, has no response to stimuli, and can only communicate with Hub, the faithful family dog. And like all superheroes, Westlake has an archenemy: Dr. Quietus--a nightmarish embodiment of Death itself.

Westlake dreams of a normal life--of surfing and loving again. But time is running out; Dr. Quietus is getting closer, and stronger. Can Westlake use his superbrain to recover . . . to slip his enemy's cold embrace before it's too late?

My Thoughts: This was such a cool idea - a superhero who is basically unable to do anything. I figured the entire story would be taking place in his brain, and thought that would be pretty neat. What I didn't expect was that it would be so incredibly funny - the scene with the gold finch? Priceless! Westlake has a bad situation, and he's fairly bitter, but he manages to keep a humorous perspective on it. At least for the first quarter or so of the book - things get a bit more serious after that. But it is well-done and not overly morose. However, it gets into the end-of-life issue - euthanasia, to be blunt. And makes you think - are people who seem to be gone really gone? Maybe they just can't communicate? Ever heard of locked-in syndrome? Can't move, can't talk, seem to be gone - but in reality, that person is completely awake, aware, and feels every indignity, hears every word spoken in his or her vicinity, understands everything. Just can't get out. Can you imagine that? shudders

Chapter 17 was so beautiful, so sad - I read it with tears in my eyes. And 21? Wow, so heart-breaking. I didn't know if I could keep reading, `cause I'm just not good with heavy emotions like that. I tend toward being depressive, so it's not usually a good thing for me to read things that will make me sad. But I kept thinking, maybe .... maybe .... and on I went. Fortunately those chapters alternate with chapters that made me angry, about a real jerk named Wayne. Man, I was hoping he would die painfully! You'll probably feel the same way, or maybe not. I did grow up watching violent movies, you know!

Well, I've given you more information about the story than I probably should have, but it was amazing, heart-breaking, breath-taking... difficult to read, but definitely worth it. Highly recommended. Book available 4/12/12 from ChiZine Publications.


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