Cliff Hicks is the author of Escaping Heaven. He spends his time working as a journalist and game designer.
". . .funny, oh so funny! Really looking forward to Mr. Hicks next book as well."
"Escaping Heaven is a wonderful book! Within the first 2 pages, I was already hooked! I couldn't recommend [that] everyone read this book more!"
Escaping Heaven: A Comedy Of The Afterlife by Cliff Hicks starts out on what is a fairly bad day for Jake Altford, a man who is somewhat used to treating bad days with a ‘that’s life, might as well get on with it attitude.’ Jake loses his job, finds out his fiancée is cheating on him, gets into an auto accident, and is then crushed by a telephone pole. Interestingly, “that was when Jake’s really began to get bad.”
Jake is taken to heaven, where he is subjected to a series of line-ups, bureaucratic forms, and a plethora of other nonsense supposedly designed to get him to his ‘personal heaven.’ Eventually he is taken there, though, but this does not result in his day getting better:
Everyone has an idea of what their personal Heaven will be like, even if they aren’t a religious person. But no matter when and where Jake had been thinking of Heaven, this was certainly not what he had in mind. He wasn’t sure whose idea of Heaven this was. Maybe Bob Ross’s.
Today, at the insistence of the activity group’s project leader, Jake had been making a painting form macaroni. Yesterday, it had been basketweaving. Tomorrow, they were planned to do pottery.
In his six weeks (or whatever) in Heaven, Jake had come to realize that they had placed him in what could only be compared to a retirement community. There were ‘guest speakers’ who would come by every so often and talk about improving one’s status in the afterlife, and not once did any of the speakers ever seem to have a clue as to what they were talking about. Still, his fellow afterlifers would clap mindlessly and nod their heads, only to regurgitate the information later, as if it was perfect.
What Jake found funniest about this was that on one day, they had had a speaker talking about positive thinking, and how it kept men and women afloat. The audience agreed and nodded, reciting their lines after the angel was gone. The next day, however, another angel showed up and lectured about how positive thinking could easily get out of hand. Sure enough, as soon as the second angel was gone, they were spouting the propaganda as if they had never heard the first angel speak.
Jake’s heaven is an endless series of crafts and motivational speakers. For some reason, despite always just having gone with the flow no matter how much he didn’t like things that happen to him, Jake decides to escape Heaven. Hilarity ensues.
No, seriously, Jake’s escape from the confusion that is heaven is one hilarious episode after another:
He pushed open the larger doors and stepped into a busier chamber. People were coming and going, bustling about, and not one of them gave Jake a second look, not even the two guards who were standing on either side of the doors he’d just come out of. He nodded to one of the two angels who were standing guard, and one of them snapped off a well-practices salute.
“Sir!” the angel barked.
Jake returned to regard him a little bit, then tried to put on his best air of superiority. He’d dealt with supervisors his whole life, and he was well aware how to act like an asshole to a subordinate. Whatever it took to blend in, he was going to do it.
Mistaken identity, pratfalls, and such; all the elements of a classic farce are there. All in all, Escaping Heaven has got to be one of the funniest books I've read in a long time. Heaven is a bumbling bureaucracy. No one has any idea what is going on and they just try to act like they do, keep up appearances. No one is in charge, and absolutely no one is prepared for anyone to act different. The result is like The Three Stooges on a cosmic scale when Jake shows up and does just that.
Now, humor isn't the only good point of Escaping Heaven either. In addition to being delightfully funny, the book is actually really well written. Jake and the supporting characters are fully developed and compelling. The plotting is fast paced and holds interest well. In short, this book is really well done. All in all, I found Escaping Heaven to be fun, engaging, and light-heartedly rebellious.
There is one last thing I should mention. I hear tell that the author is waiting on the response to this book to decide whether or not to write another. As such, I'm going to have to ask you all to buy this book, or at least read it. Really, that's the only way I'm going to be able to find out what happens next.