With the collapse of ecosystems and the extinction of species comes the Grief: an unstoppable melancholia that ends in suicide. When Ruby's friend, mourning the loss of the Great Barrier Reef, succumbs to the Grief, the letters she leaves behind reveal the hidden world of the resurrected dead: animals brought back from extinction—whose renewed life comes with a price.
The reader is hammered with...accusations, especially for a book that could be read in a single sitting. The onslaught of pain and sorrow of what could have been, what the world cannot return to, radiates from these passages. Cade’s background in science communication gives Ruby her distinct (read: empirical) point of view and feelings of disbelief, but also provides a thorough analysis of organisms and biological systems throughout the narrative. The sensibilities of understanding various organisms alive, copied, and extinct are delicious treats for the biologically-minded. Yet, these factors, which could have easily become obstacles in a hard science fiction novel, never get in the way of the poignant story, which is certainly a message for our times ... Cade pushes climate fiction deeper, asking the reader to reflect, consider, and repent. A heavy, but necessary read, The Impossible Resurrection of Grief pushes us to continue to question our motives and our positions in the climate crisis.
The novella is tense and strained, leaving the reader on edge. Cade’s compact prose delivers plot turns like punches to the gut. (I audibly gasped at an unexpected flash of violence in the novella’s first chapter.) As Ruby confronts resurrected organisms, scientists driven to drastic action by the Grief, and numerous life-threatening encounters (accompanied by her soon-to-be-ex-husband George), she finds that there are no easy answers to facing climate crisis, or the emotions that accompany it. This refusal to fall into black-and-white, good-and-bad is one of the novella’s many strengths ... By couching de-extinction in the context of the Grief, Cade shows how this practice presents challenges beyond scientific techniques ... What Cade’s novella shows us is that, despite the difficulty and pain, we cannot look away from ecological devastation, and that we must choose how we will respond to it.
The three major episodes of Cade’s novella are so different in tone and theme—though all seem credible responses, once you accept the notion of the Grief—that it’s a challenge for Cade to weave them together without some seams showing, while other intriguing plot elements, like Ruby’s apparently amicable ongoing divorce from her indigenous husband George (who adds a valuable perspective), are hardly developed at all. But there’s no denying that The Impossible Resurrection of Grief is both provocative and disturbing, and often quite powerful.