Soul Identity - Book Pleasures Review

by Norm Goldman

(as posted on BookPleasures.com and in American Chronicle)

To understand the nuances of Dennis Batchelder’s debut novel, Soul Identity: a novel, it wouldn’t hurt to be familiar with some of the computer lingo mentioned in the text, however, it is not absolutely essential to enjoy the experience of its reading. Batchelder succeeds in serving up an exciting yarn alluding to the implications of technology, identity theft, as well as mixing in some fantasy and spirituality with even a touch of a philosophical twist. 

To accomplish this feat Soul Identity centers on the adventures of a computer security consultant Scott Waverly, who lives on Kent Island in the middle of Chesapeake Bay. One morning Waverly receives a package from a company called Soul Identity that is looking to employ his services. Apparently, the company had previously contacted Waverly’s home office to inquire as to the kind of services he offers his clients.

The package received by Waverly contains two yellow envelopes containing a “soul identity reader” that resembles a pocket flashlight and instructions as to how to use the reader. Waverly is informed that before he begins his business relationship with Soul Identity he must first signify his acceptance by providing the company with his soul identity. Consequently, by following the instructions and using the reader he would be able to photograph the iris of each of his eyes that contains his soul identity.  

As a practical joke and believing that he is dealing with some “wacko company”, Waverly and his parents, who are his business associates and are at his home office at the time, decide to provide the soul identity of a bluefish they just caught. Upon completing the task, they call the company and tell them to pick up the package. However, before the same individual who delivered the package returns to pick up the package, Waverly and his parents try to find out what the reader is all about and attempt to decode its contents.

A week later Waverly notices that the same delivery man shows up at his neighbor’s doorstep and for some reason causes the neighbor, a Mr. Berry, to chase after him with a shotgun. Curious to know what happened, Waverly knocks on Berry’s door and he is asked to step in for a cup of coffee. It is here where he learns that Berry, who believes in reincarnation, recently visited a neighborhood palm reading establishment owned by a Madame Flora.  Coincidentally, or perhaps it is a twist of fate, a Soul Identity member shows up the very next day and explains to Berry how their company could extend his life forever by building a bridge between his present life and his future lives.  

Berry struggles to convince Waverly that the company is legitimate and is not selling false hopes as they really did in fact figure out how to identify and track your soul. Apparently, they know how to read it, and after you die and come back in a new body, they can find it again. Moreover, the company acts as a depositary where people can bank their money, ideas, life experiences and other valuables and give it back to you after they find you in your future life.

Waverly thinks this is quite a novel and compelling idea, particularly if the company could accomplish this feat without cheating their clients in the process. What Waverly discovers and what angered Berry, however, was that he was turned down and would not be let in due to the fact that he had one glass eye.

As our story progresses, Waverly meets up with Archibald Morgan, the “executive overseer” of Soul Identity  and who works out of the company’s Massachusetts headquarters. It is here where Waverly learns about the history of the company dating back twenty-six hundred years and that the first overseers were the people whose soul identities matched the eye images of ancient Egyptian paintings.

He is also clued-in as to the consulting services he is to provide to Soul Identity. Morgan explains to Waverly that the company is in the process of offering their services over the Internet. However, he believes that its very existence is at stake as they are being maliciously targeted by a rival company that involves some very wicked people. He has a good idea as to who are the culprits however at the moment he is unable to provide solid evidence. This is why he has engaged Waverly whom he knows is perfect for the job, as he is a non-believer and a skeptic, particularly in light of the fact that he tried to fool him with the submission of a bluefish’s eye images when he was requested to submit his own.

 To add a little romantic spice to the narrative, Batchelder throws in a love story when Waverly meets the beautiful, blue-eyed and brilliant Valentina (Val) Nikolskaya, a programmer at Soul Identity who helps him discover who in the company is an impostor that is collaborating with other scoundrels in a devious scheme to wipe out the company.

As the chase comes to a close, Waverly and his girlfriend Val wind up searching for a character by the name of Tinless Tiskey, supposedly an amazing programmer, who lives in a Buddhist temple in the Himalayas next to Tibet, and who eventually provides them with the needed answers to bring closure to Waverly’s assignment.

Even though the novel may seem to be a trifle absurd and far fetched, it does have its many moments of wit, and probably without consciously realizing it, makes one speculate as to what would be the ramifications if it were possible to trace one’s soul as offered by Soul Identity? Batchelder’s take on modern technology coupled with his vivid imagination are quite intriguing. However, I did find his tendency to veer away from the main plot line a bit distracting, particularly when Morgan gives him a history lesson of the origins of soul identity as well as the mumbo jumbo and technical jargon thrown in from time to time. As you can gather, I am not a computer geek. Nonetheless, I have to admit Soul Identity was a fun romp with its adventure and suspense and I look forward to reading more from Batchelder, only next time I hope he stays more focused and remembers that we are not all computer literate.

Back to Praise for Soul Identity...

Soul Intent
Excerpt
Reviews

Publisher: NetLeaves
Paperback: 276 pages
ISBN-10: 0979805627
ISBN-13: 9780979805622
Library of Congress
Control Number:
2009907927
Buy "Soul Intent"

Soul Identity

Excerpt
Reviews
Synopsis

Publisher: NetLeaves
Paperback: 268 pages
ISBN-10: 0979805600
ISBN-13: 978-0979805608
Library of Congress
Control Number:
2007932540
Buy "Soul Identity"