Thanks to NetGalley and Knopf Books for Young Readers for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date February 7th, 2017
Synopsis: You only live once–unless you’re Denton Little!
The good news: Denton Little has lived through his deathdate. Yay! The bad news: He’s being chased by the DIA (Death Investigation Agency), he can never see his family again, and he may now die any time. Huh. Cheating death isn’t quite as awesome as Denton would have thought…
Lance Rubin’s debut novel, Deanton Little’s Deathdate, showed readers just how funny and poignant imminent death could be. Now in this sequel, he takes on the big questions about life. How do we cope, knowing we could die at any time? Would you save someone from dying even if they were a horrible person? Is it wrong to kiss the girl you’re best friend is crushing on if she’s really into you instead? What if she’s wearing bacon lip gloss?
I absolutely loved Denton Little’s Deathdate and as it ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the sequel in this duology. As soon as it popped up on NetGalley about a month ago, I immediately requested and waited, and waited, and WAITED! Until finally it became clear that my request was frozen in the dreaded “pending” process, which anyone who’s requested eARCS on the site is probably more than familiar with. I was getting extremely depressed until it occurred to me to contact the author on Goodreads and see if he could help. Which I did and much to my surprise he quickly got back to me and within an hour I received a notification from Knopf via NetGalley that I was approved! I’d like to thank Lance Rubin who has proven to me he definitely cares about his readers! So, was this everything I hoped it was going to be? For the most part I give a resounding YES! Denton Little’s Still Not Dead retains much of the light-hearted humor as the first book, but it has a lot more action. Denton is still the same awkwardly endearing teen who’s trying to not only cope with the fact that he survived his deathdate and the mother he was told died in childbirth is alive, but he’s in hiding with a resistance group he knows nothing about and doesn’t really trust. And if that’s not enough, he’s worried about his best friend Paolo whose deathdate is fast approaching, and is determined to save him. As was the case in the first book, the very best part of this story is the friendship between Denton and Paolo. Amidst all the clever banter between these two is one of the most touching relationships I’ve come across in all my years of reading. These two may not be technically related, but they are most definitely brothers. They are so loyal to each other that not even a brief love triangle can permanently break up this dynamic duo. And speaking of love triangles, I know I always grump about them, but this one is such a momentary blip, that it didn’t annoy me at all. Besides. It led to one of my favorite quotes from Paolo:
Wow, I’ve been in the world for eighteen years, and I’ve never been in a love triangle, and now I get to be in one with two of my favorite people in the whole world. How awesome is that?
Trust me. This is classic Paolo! There are several other characters from the first book who also make appearances, which leads to the only criticisms. One of them is Paolo’s sister Veronica, and while I was initially happy to see her, for the most part nothing is done with her character and her inclusion added little to the story. I also was a little disappointed that the relationship between Denton and his brother Felix wasn’t developed more, but honestly, these are just minor complaints. Amidst car chases, and hiding from a secret and nefarious government agency, the story also takes a look at some serious real life lessons. Denton finally meets his birth mother, and learns what the true definition of motherhood is. And then there’s the question of the deathdates themselves. Is it better to know how long you have to live, or is it more important to live every day as if it may be your last? These all lead to Denton’s growth as a character, and makes him even more relatable, especially to teen readers. And finally, I have to admit the ending left me with mixed feelings. While I understand and respect Lance Rubin’s decision to make this a duology, I’m left with a certain sadness at having to say goodbye to characters which I’ve become so attached to. Denton Little’s Deathdate and Denton Little’s Still Not Dead are going on my shortlist of favorite YA novels of all time. They’re a little bit wacky, and some of the situations strain incredulity, but they’re fun-filled science fiction, whose memorable characters will appeal to a wide audience of teens and adults. I can’t wait to see what Lance Rubin comes out with next!