book review

End Man, by Alex Austin


End Man, by Alex Austin


Hey guys, welcome back to Bookish Beyond.
How have you been?

Today, I’m excited to be reviewing End Man, by Alex Austin.
So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand and are all settled in, let’s begin.



The story is set in the 2030s, in Los Angeles, USA. Here, the protagonist, Raphael works for the Norval Department of Marketing Necrology (NDMN) as a Necrologist, otherwise known as an ‘End man.’ The company’s job is to capture the remnants of dead people, to turn them into an online presence, so that their loved ones can have access to their life’s memories.

Specifically, Raphael’s job is to locate people who are faking death, otherwise known as ‘possums.’ He is soon put onto a peculiar case, investigating a certain Professor Klaes who has supposedly died of unnatural causes. However, Klaes’ case leads Raphael to a series of mysterious encounters, which cause him to question not just his current assignment, but his entire career and life on Earth.

End man cover


*Please note: there may be faint spoilers contained in this next paragraph, relating to character backstory, motives, and personal growth.

Although there were numerous characters within End Man, for the purposes of this review, I will be focusing on six particular individuals; Raphael, his best friend Matt, his love interest Addy, Norval’s founder Geo Maglio, Merion Jenson (AKA: ‘Pink’), and Professor Klaes.


Firstly, let us examine Raphael, the leading man of the story. Raphael is an End Man, otherwise known as a Necrologist, working for the Norval Department of Marketing Necrology (NDMN), with the company’s aim being ‘To preserve and protect the online remains of the Dead.’

Raphael’s job is to capture possums, those faking their own deaths, for whatever reason. Raphael is haunted by a past mistake, where he declared a possum dead, only for them to resurface, alive, months later. He is also haunted by an unusual phobia of crossing streets, otherwise known as Dromophobia. It is Raphael’s belief that if he can finish a painting he promised to his mother, then he will finally be freed from his life-limiting phobia, to live a much richer life, broken out of his restricted environment.

Throughout the book, I found Raphael to be a brave and curious individual, always willing to dig into things if something didn’t make sense to him. He also proved himself to be a bit of a rebel, going against his boss’ direct orders, in order to try and see his initial job (of locating Professor Kales) through. Not only this, but he was also a well-developed character, with a unique backstory, fears, desires, and hobbies to boot, such as his love of art, and skateboarding outside of work. Overall, I found Raphael to be a fascinating character who would never give up on a goal, and would always do right by people, wherever he could.


Secondly, we come to Matt, Raphael’s best friend and fellow End Man. While Matt only appears at certain times in the book (mentioned in passing or only for a short time), he was showcased as a good man, and a helpful and deeply supportive friend. No matter what Raphael asked of him, Matt would help him out wherever possible. The pair have friendly back and forths which helped to lift some more sorrowful parts of the story. Overall, Matt seemed like a good guy, the type of friend you would want in your corner when the going gets tough, so to speak.


Thirdly, I’d like to examine Addy, Raphael’s love interest. Addy is introduced to us as a singer, who also works at the local Corngold Center, looking after patients with specific difficulties. She comes across as a caring and unique individual, with striking, teal-coloured eyes which bore into Raphael’s soul every time they meet. Addy is described as being especially beautiful in a physical sense. However, I found that the way she treated others ­– how she cared for them and took the time to get to know them on a personal level – was a far more beautiful quality, which led to me admiring her ever more. Furthermore, she was a steadfast friend to Raphael and helped him, even when she felt he had lied to her, giving him the benefit of the doubt and trusting in him enough to get to the deeper root of his unusual behaviours. That Addy was willing to place this trust in another and to help Raphael in his time of greatest need spoke volumes about how kind and caring she is as a character.

Marion Jenson (Pink)

Next, we come to Marion Jenson, first referred to as ‘Pink’ due to the puffy, pink coat Raphael always sees her wearing. Pink initially comes across as a peculiar woman, carrying a laptop everywhere and speaking in riddles, alongside asking people if they want to buy data. It is unclear what is wrong with her at the start of the story. However, it soon becomes clear that Pink knows more about the company Raphael works for than she lets on. We later find out that Pink used to work for Norval’s current boss, Geo Maglio, at another data-related company, and so she knows things which other members of Norval may not be privy to. Pink always gave off a mysterious and slightly deranged presence. However, she also acted as a useful conduit for disseminating key information about Raphael’s cloudy future.

Geo Maglio (Head of Norval)

The penultimate character we will examine is Geo Maglio, the current head of Norval. Although we don’t become acquainted with him until later in the story, Mr Maglio’s presence soon becomes a dominating force throughout the rest of the book. He is intimidating and stern, always one to have his way, with no resistance tolerated from his subordinates. He also appears quite secretive and lacking in morals, with a relentless hunger for power which goes unmatched by any other character. In general, he appeared to me as a pretty unlikable character, someone who was easy to root against. 

Professor Klaes

Finally, we come to Professor Klaes, a core character in the story, despite not being present for most of it. Professor Klaes was a highly intelligent individual, who worked tirelessly toward his own idealistic dream of a future where the dead could truly be brought back to life. He was presented as a hard-working and determined individual, but as somewhat detached from his human emotions, which enabled him to make some pretty tough decisions, morally-speaking. Although there were times when I felt shocked by his choice of actions, there were also many times where his character brought a tear to my eye with his intense sense of care toward those he loved as family, going to the ends of the Earth to protect and enrich their lives in the best way he knew how.

End man author
Alex Austin: Author of End Man

Positive Aspects

There was so much to like about End Man, the details of which I have included below in a handy bulleted list.

  • Firstly, the plot moved along steadily, revealing new information, bit by bit, allowing the reader to remain engaged throughout the book.

  • Secondly, the premise of the book was really interesting. I really liked the idea of Norval’s company aim and how they went about executing it, in reality.

  • Thirdly, the characters were interesting, each with their own goals, hopes, fears, and problems. Raphael – in particular – drew me to him with his love of art and fear of leaving the space he feels safe in.

  • In addition, the world (set in the 2030s) seemed more futuristic, yet similar enough to our own, thus inspiring a sense of terror that such drastic societal changes could soon befall us.

  • Furthermore, the book included certain physics concepts, such as ‘non-locality,’ which I found fascinating to learn more about.

  • The plot itself was fascinating, exploring numerous, multi-faceted mysteries centring around one man, Professor Klaes.

  • Finally, I especially loved seeing Raphael’s personal transformation as a character. At the start, he is a loyal Norval worker, trying his best to track down possums. However, toward the end, he begins to question everything he has built his life around, shunning the very technology he once relied upon and worked with. This transformation was a gradual yet powerful one, which really spoke to me, echoing concerns of how technology is infiltrating our lives in nefarious ways, in our own modern-day reality.

Memorable Quotes

As always, while reading, I kept my eyes open for any interesting quotes I thought might be good to share.
End Man did not disappoint. With that in mind, I include the following five quotes for you.

1) ‘Art must be born from the deepest emotions – sometimes even suffering.’

2) ‘The world changes, but it does not change. 

3) ‘If something was in the data, everything was in the data, and the data was in everything.’ 

4) ‘If you want to escape, you must chance the fall.’ 

5) ‘Give me a lever and I’ll move the world. The lever? Love.’

This final quote was a lovely, sentimental take on Archimedes’ original quote.

End man, bookish beyond, book review, book quote
Follow link to see original background image by 'Starline' on


Overall, End Man was a thought-provoking and gripping novel, which explored the concept of what it means to be human, as well as the lengths we will go to – as a species – to achieve immortality.

Other key themes included life and death, technology, love and loss, corruption, freedom vs imprisonment, and artificial intelligence.

My Rating: 5 stars.
Recommended to: lovers of uniquely chilling sci-fi / dystopian fiction.


Would you like more information?

To learn more about End Man, you can visit its Goodreads page, HERE.
Or, to find out more about Alex Austin, simply visit his Goodreads Author page, HERE.


As always, thank you for joining me for today’s review.
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Have a wonderful week,
Ellie. xoxo

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