First Review of 40

(Josh Olds at sent me an early review of 40. Since the book releases a month from today, I thought I'd share it.)

40: A Novel by Travis Thrasher

Reviewed by Josh Olds,

What if you knew the day you were going to die? What if you knew that Heaven and Hell existed but weren’t sure where you would end up? What God was trying desperately to make Himself known to you? Would you listen? Would you ignore? What would you do? Tyler Harrison is about to find out.

Nine months away from his 40th birthday, Tyler Harrison begins to hallucinate. He thinks. If you’re not sure you’re hallucinating, are you hallucinating that you’re hallucinating? It’s stress, he thinks. His job as a music producer hasn’t been going so well lately. But everything falls into place when Tyler meets Matthew. If Matthew is to be believed, he’s an angel sent to tell Tyler that he will die on his 40th birthday.

Convinced that Matthew is who he says he is, Tyler lashes out against God, angry at how his life has gone. He meets a DJ named Ellis who goads him on in his anger, counseling him to loosen up and just have fun. But Ellis’s type of fun is self-destructive and as Tyler nears his day of death, he becomes more introspective and afraid for his salvation. He reaches out to a pastor named Will and tries desperately to make amends before the end.

40 is both provocative and introspective, putting the reader in Tyler’s place and making them question their eternal destiny as well as how their live is lived on earth. Are we really making the most of each moment? The book is written for the twist, which I frankly was completely surprised by. When you read as much fiction as I do, even great storylines begin to be anticipated. But Travis Thrasher genuinely surprised me, and in a way that made complete sense after having been told the twist.

From a writing style, it took me a while to get into the pace of 40. It begins rather slowly, and Tyler’s initial hallucinations seem bizarre and unexplained. In short, I was experiencing about as much confusion as Tyler, which may have been Thrasher’s point. For me, it seemed to miss that initial hook in dragging me into the story and demanding I finish it in one sitting. Nevertheless, 40 hits its stride about midway through, once Tyler figures out what the hallucinations are about and meets Ellis, and rushes to a mind-blowing conclusion.

Thrasher is a master at the first person present tense writing style, a style that due to his writing has become a favorite of mine. It allows the protagonist to be introspective without those annoying thought italics. Introspection is good, because that’s ultimately what the theme is about. Facing death, how would you live your live? But aren’t we all really facing imminent death anyway? Perhaps Tyler was blessed in knowing. Thought-provoking and convicting, the questions Thrasher raises are what really drew me into 40.

I’ve long described Travis Thrasher as an author who explores Truth, discovers Love, and gives Hope. 40 does all three in a uniquely compelling way that will have readers wondering just how much they are like Tyler. The answer is that 40 is a universal story. It’s your story. It’s my story. It’s Travis Thrasher’s story. We are all like Tyler and face the same decisions but we rarely realize why that’s important. Thrasher reminds us, and that’s what makes this book unforgettable.

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