on Dec. 30, 2011 :
Do you contemplate the meaning of life? Have you ever given any thought to what happens after death? Many people believe in 'the afterlife'. So what is it really? Some believe that we all have a responsibility to better ourselves through multiple lives which we do through reincarnation or rebirth. As our 'souls' venture forward from our bodies they are given the opportunity to be reborn into another life to improve on past mistakes and/or learn more about the true meaning of life as we know it. The book A View From A Height delves into those beliefs in great depth and gives the reader many things to ponder about the journey through life, or lives.
This book is long, huge to be more accurate, and takes quite a while to absorb all the information that the author has included. One problem I found is that most of the first part, book 1, reads almost like a text book on the metaphysical. The amount of information is daunting, and may turn some readers away from continuing. The information is given in the guise of a conversation but this 'conversation' is mostly one sided and continues for pages and pages. Some, like me, will skim these pages just to get through them and continue with the story. The information is interesting and thought provoking, but I quickly got bored, so I skimmed.
The story starts out with Dawn Bang growing up in Hawaii and experiencing racial discrimination. As many young people, she became rebellious and ends up in a car accident in which she is thrown into a water filled ditch and electrocuted. It is not 'her time' so she is sent back to improve on her life and continues in the mortal world while also 'living' in the spiritual world. Her improved life continues as she learns from different sources about the spiritual side of life. As her persona evolves she meets different characters that influence her life and choices.
The author has done a wonderful job of mixing science fiction, metaphysics and a thriller all into one thought provoking book. If you can get through the massive amount of information this is a very worth while read that I think most will enjoy.
(reviewed 30 days after purchase)
on Sep. 24, 2011 :
"A View From A Height — The Death and Life of Xiao Chen Bang" by J.E. Murphy is a riveting, thought provoking, metaphysical, science fiction read. It is the story of Dawn Bang, born to Chinese immigrant parents in Hawaii, and her evolution into something greater than her human form, including her alliance with other souls and a dirigible with a soul.
Dawn Bang grows up in Hawaii experiencing racial discrimination against Chinese people. Her early childhood is happy, with dreams at night of flying, but her painful school days are filled with taunts and insults from other students. She turns to drugs and alcohol to dull the pain. At the age of fifteen, she dies in a car accident. The Dakini, escorts for the newly dead to the next realm, review her life with her to this point, and she is horrified at how she has lived and treated others. She learns she has a purpose in this life and can go back if she chooses to. They show her a whale in her future that will change her life.
Dawn chooses to return to her life and turn over a new leaf. When asleep at night, she becomes one of the Dakini, escorting the newly dead to the next realm, except for one occasion. In this instance she rescues a mountain climber, David Chang, by joining with him to give him the strength to pull himself up and save himself from the aftermath of an avalanche on a mountain in the Himalayas. They form a bond and, through her influence, he becomes a great world spiritual leader.
Living a life of purpose by day, she forms a foundation that trains and supports farmers in China, improving their lives. Her popular foundation does not endear her to the Chinese government, and she ends up in a prison in China. Eventually she escapes and returns to Hawaii, and soon realizes that her family is not safe with her there. When she gets word that her co-workers in China are being arrested and disappearing, she decides she must return to China to help her friends. While still in Hawaii, she meets David Chang in person. David is a passenger on a dirigible named the Eckener, touring the world on her maiden voyage. The Eckener is docked in Hawaii, and the next stop is China. The dirigible, which is shaped like a whale, has an artificial intelligence so advanced it is inhabited by the soul of a whale. This turns out to be the whale of her dreams.
The story continues with many exciting and thought-provoking twists and turns. There is a lot to think about, and my mind dwelled on it for days after reading. There are thought provoking conversations on the nature of reality, the soul, and infinite possibilities of the world. The exotic locations Murphy describes are real places and are easy to see with the mind’s eye. There are detailed descriptions of the futuristic dirigible that is held aloft with vacuum spheres, and of the fantastic computer that runs the ship. This book is filled with action-packed adventure, and is hard to put down. But more than that, anyone with an interest in philosophy, science or artificial intelligence will enjoy this book. Like any great book, it is worthy of more than one reading. I can see it on a classroom reading list or book club selection. It would also make a great movie.
(reviewed 20 days after purchase)
L. A. Wright
on Sep. 11, 2011 :
Article first published as Book Review: A View from a Height by J.E. Murphy on Blogcritics.
The meaning of life seems so much a part of what we wonder on a daily basis, and is a question that is asked by almost everyone at some point in their life. While there seem to be no real answers, there is always the foray into spiritualism, which seems to give its own form of answers. At the same time, even this sojourn often leaves just as many questions.
In A View from a Height J.E. Murphy takes us into the world of a young woman, Dawn Bang. Born of Chinese decent she has always felt she is different. She could hear things others could not; she could feel the pulse of the world. Living in Hawaii, she is also made to feel different, and as she grows up, she finds it easier to block out the sounds and feelings with alcohol and drugs. Living a life of desperation and shame, she is unprepared for her death when it happens. Taking a stand to save and endangered species as her boyfriend of the time races down the roadway to kill it, she grabs the steering wheel and runs them into a muddy ditch. This however is not the end, it is as she tries to pull herself from the muddy, wet ditch and she grabs what she believes is a branch to help, she finds herself looking down on the crumpled body of a young woman. Even as she watches emergency vehicles show up, she sees that this woman is her, and that the branch was actually a live wire that was knocked down by the impact of the car.
It would seem that this is the end of her journey, yet it appears as though it was not her time at all. As she finds herself in a beautiful place full of love and understanding her fear disappears. This is a place of transition, but she is made aware that there is more for her in the world. She has a job to do and she has not even begun. Even as she feels the love and acceptance, she is abruptly pulled back into her own body, here in the real world.
So begins the beautiful, yet painful, soulful and amazing life of a woman who becomes more than who she is. This is a truly enlightening tale of love and war, of the menaces of pride and of how this young woman begins a journey that is so fundamentally real, yet becomes so much more.
The Story was not what I expected as I picked it up. I was initially daunted at the size of the work, and yet as I began the story I had trouble putting it down. As I moved on to other tasks it followed me, keeping my thoughts on what would happen next. I felt the depth of her joy, and the pain and degradation with her. As she connects with others that are on parallel journeys with her, they too became my friends and mentors. I found an odd connectedness about this book that is hard to decipher. The descriptions are vivid and the tone is flowing. The evil that would often infect the world in her journey was truly something that seemed both real and unnerving.
For the science fiction and reality buffs, Murphy introduces us to an amazing dirigible, used to transport many of the characters from the West Coast, to Hawaii and on to China. This is an integral part of the process of the book and gives us another layer of thought. It is an amazing machine and the computer technology alone is exciting. The intricate and amazing description of the vehicle creates a wonderful backdrop for much of what happens throughout the story.
There is so much and more of this book than I can explain. I would recommend it for those who feel a spiritual connection, who believe in karma and often have questions on life. I would also recommend it for those who want to know more about the world, and there is a kaleidoscope of places to read about. It would be a marvelous book for a book club and reading group, adding discussion upon discussion. It would be a great book for your permanent library. The information and the story itself could be reread time after time. This book will take you on a journey, only you can decide if it is one you want to transverse.
This book was received as a free e-book from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.
(reviewed 28 days after purchase)
on Aug. 25, 2011 :
Listen/read my review here - http://alchemyofscrawl.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/book-review-a-view-from-a-height/
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)
on April 21, 2011 :
A View From A Height
Available At : Amazon , Smashwords or Lulu
Some may view this book towards the Sci-Fi realm along with the Paranormal but I feel it’s more to the Paranormal side with little of any Sci Fi. With the book containing both volumes "The Dakini" and "The Bodhisattva", it makes for a larger book but even for its size is quite interesting.
Do you believe in out of body experiences? Do you believe that a person who has died can come back to life?
“A View From A Height” is the story of Xiao Chen Bang, a Chinese girl who was born in Hawaii. Through her childhood she has heard and been called by different names as we know how most children do when they confront someone of a different nationality. As Xiao grew she became rebellious, that is until her death as a teenager. As she traveled out of her body she watch as they worked trying to save her. Electrocuted in a water filled ditch, she tries to make them stop, but it’s not her time Sent back to her body her life is changed for the better. Living in a mortal body she also lives in the spirit world, helping transcend those to the better place. As she transcends out of her own body into the spirit world she is also confronted with others who also are like her. She has seen and heard the cries of the sorrowful, the pain of those in the throes of death. She has seen the dead and they have seen her. These spirits are called Dikini. Some as mortals dream as they lead someone on and never remember their nights work when they wake in the morning, while others are completely spiritual and never have a mortal body.
As Xiao is returned to her body her life changes. As she goes to China to help the under privileged she meets up with all different obstacles, even to the point of being thrown in prison. Will this work she is doing help accomplish good in the world or evil.
In the beginning of the book this is the translators notes:
[Here is a love story. It is not the usual kind of love story……
This is the autobiography of Xiao Chen Bang, a person who, depending on where you stand, had perhaps the most significant impact on the world that it has ever known, or had no impact at all.]
As I stated at the beginning. Is this true or fiction? Does one believe in out of body experiences? I leave that up to the reader. The author has written a brilliant story. Though a long book I feel you will enjoy it.
(reviewed 8 days after purchase)