Death, Humor, Meaning of Life, Satire, Science Fiction, YA Fiction
I received this e-Arc from NetGalley and Random House Children’s Books in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 4/14/15
In the near future thanks to “advances” in the field of “AstroThanatoGenetics”, people are able to know the exact day they’re going to die. Denton Little is an “Early” because he’s supposed to die when he’s only 17. His deathdate actually coincides with the day of his Senior prom. So, what’s a guy to do with the 24 hours left to him? Well, if you’re Denton, they’re not going to be spent in the house hiding. No. He’s going to live life to the fullest, even with that mysteriously spreading purplish rash which suddenly appears and questions that pop up regarding his deceased mother.
Denton Little’ s Deathdate is one of the most original YA novels I’ve read in a very long time. From the moment he wakes up with a killer hangover and a sinking feeling that he broke up with his girlfriend and slept with his best friend’s sister, to the weird purple rash that he thinks might have something to do with his impending death, to questions about his mother who died the day he was born, Denton’ s last day is never boring. In this world that is otherwise so much like our own, babies are assigned their deathdate at birth. Because of this wonderful scientific achievement, they can attend their own funeral, which is followed immediately after by a blowout party. The Sitting comes the next day which is when immediate family and close friends can await their death together. Good times! Actually, in Lance Rubin’ s talented hands, it’s marvelously entertaining. At times, hysterically funny, and other’s surprisingly touching, Denton pulled me in from the very first page. This lovable underdog is determined to make his last day count, and he moves from giving a rambling and rather incoherent eulogy, to wanting to leave a more positive and lasting impression before he leaves. Of course he has to survive long enough to do it. This is made difficult not only due to the aforementioned rash, but also because his girlfriend’s ex is a homicidal maniac, and for some reason, the affable neighbourhood pot dealer keeps trying to run him down. But never fear! Denton is supported in his endeavors by a wonderful supportive cast of characters which include his pot-smoking best friend Paolo, and Veronica, Paolo’ s acerbic sister. Rounding out an already compelling plot, is the mystery of the purple rash, and how it relates to Denton’ s mother. It’s not only spreading on his body, but a smaller version jumps to anyone he’s in contact with. It’s only when Denton’ s father gives him a letter his mother wrote to him shortly before her death, that things slowly become clearer. Well, sort of. The ending is a cliffhanger which leaves you hope that what previously was only hinted at, will be more fully developed in the next book. I’m sorry if I’m being mysterious, but I really don’t want to give away any spoilers. The only reason why I didn’t rate this 5 stars is because while as an adult, I understand that the prevailing message is not only to live life to it’s fullest, but also that nothing, and I mean nothing is set in stone, I’m not sure young teens would understand this. This book is targeted for ages 14+ which is an audience typically dealing with peer pressure, societal expectations, hormones, and a myriad of stress-inducing situations. When you add casual sex, drug and alcohol use, and rampant swearing, I’m not sure I’d recommend this to young teens. Maybe to 16-year-olds and up, who I think could appreciate the humorous and satirical nature of the story. Otherwise, I found this to be a memorable, irreverent coming of age novel and I can’t wait for the sequel.
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