Life After Death by Sister Souljah review: Just doesn’t hit the mark

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 30: Author Sister Souljah attends the 16th Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books - Day 1 at USC on April 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 30: Author Sister Souljah attends the 16th Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books - Day 1 at USC on April 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images) /

Set 15 years after The Coldest Winter Ever, Life After Death picks up Winter’s story. Here’s my honest review of Sister Souljah’s latest book.

I received a free advanced copy of Life After Death by Sister Souljah from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

The last thing I like to write is a bad review. Sister Souljah puts so much work into her books that I hate to not find something good to say about it. Sadly, this is just one of those novels that I struggled to get through. When it comes to advance copies, though, I have a “Do Not DNR” rule. So, I worked through to the end, hoping that there would be something good to say.

The Coldest Winter Ever is an outstanding novel. We get to know this flawed individual, but she has some redeeming qualities in her sense of loyalty and honor. Sadly, many of those qualities are overshadowed by her actions in Life After Death, and it all starts with her demands getting out of prison.

They’re ludicrous and make her sound like an attention-seeking 15-year-old. And maybe this is supposed to show how her maturity hasn’t grown while being in prison for 15 years, but she knows enough about reality shows of today that it doesn’t fully make sense.

This is just the start.

A story that doesn’t feel like it has much of a plot

The first 30% of the book was extremely hard for me. As the title of the novel suggests, Winter is killed at the start. This is about what comes after death, and it follows what is supposed to be the Islamic afterlife. At least, that’s the feeling that I get based on the writing. I don’t know enough about the Islamic religion’s afterlife to know for certain.

But it takes a good 30% of the book to even get to understanding the plot. We spend time with Winter trying to figure things out, but her thoughts are all over the place to really follow the plot.

Once the plot does start—it’s a story about redemption and doing the right thing—it gets better. It’s still slow and sometimes jumbled.

light. Related Story. Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson review

I don’t root for Winter in Life After Death by Sister Souljah

My biggest issue with the book is that I couldn’t route for Winter. In The Coldest Winter Ever, there were parts of her personality that I could appreciate, although she is still a deplorable character. We’re reminded of some of that through her thoughts in this sequel, but those thoughts are completely overshadowed by her actions.

She hasn’t grown at all. Even her time in prison hasn’t taught her anything except that she thinks everyone should still worship her for being the daughter of some big drug dealer in the ’90s.

In a way, the redeeming part of the book is that there are lessons we can learn. We need to grow as people. We need to own up to our own mistakes, and sometimes, there really isn’t anything wrong with pointing the finger.

There is a lot of sex and some very weird things that happen—you’ll want to find out for yourself!—and that wouldn’t usually turn me off. But I had nothing that made me want to keep reading. The further into the book it gets, the more ludicrous it is even with a sort of plot there.

I don’t mind a flawed character. But that flawed character needs something redeemable for me to feel something for them. I got to the end of the book and I just didn’t care what happened to Winter. And that shouldn’t be the case.

Some problematic messages in the novel

On top of all this are the problematic messages in the book. I get it, authors have their political and religious views. That’s fine, but when those views alienate a lot of your reader base, there is going to be a huge problem.

Winter routinely refers to abortion as murder. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who agree, but there are also a lot of people out there who disagree. Usually, if you’re going to put “abortion is murder” in a book, there is someone to offer the other side of the argument. Instead, this was more like just someone looking to start a fight. It’s not just mentioned once, but routinely mentioned, which is where it starts to become a problem.

Then there’s the storyline that only Islam is the true religion. All those who don’t believe in Allah are stuck in an in-between place. Only people who believe in Allah can go to Heaven, which is going to immediately alienate so many readers.

What didn’t help was that the storyline seemed to use religion in more of a caricature sense instead of really delving into the possibilities of Heaven, Hell, and everything in between. Like with abortion, it felt like the topic was thrown in more to start a fight than open up a discussion.

There are so many other problems within the book. It’s packed with a lot of mystical elements that don’t make a lot of sense and don’t seem to have a place expect to, what sometimes felt like, drag the story on.

Life After Death just isn’t a book that I can recommend, and I’m so disappointed based on how much I love The Coldest Winter Ever.

Star rating: 1 out of 5.

Next. The Secrets We Keep by Mia Hayes review. dark

Life After Death by Sister Souljah is coming on Mar. 2, 2021. Get your copy on pre-order now.