Release Date: 10/2015
Sky Pony Press
Seventeen-year-old RJ always gets what she wants. So when her soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. But in her quest for mortality, she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between an overzealous archangel and Death Himself. The tribunal presents her with two options: she can remain in the lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires, or she can replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will result in a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no-brainer. She’ll take a walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?
But with each changing moment, RJ’s life begins to unravel, until this self-proclaimed queen bee is a social pariah. She begins to wonder if walking among the living is worth it if she has to spend the next sixty years as an outcast. Too quickly, RJ finds herself back in limbo, her time on Earth once again up for debate.
RJ is a snarky, unapologetic, almost unredeemable, very real girl. Her story is funny and moving, and teens will easily connect with her plight. Prepare to meet the Grim Reaper, who’s cuter than you’d expect; Hawaiian shirt–wearing Death Himself; Saint Peter (who likes to play Cornhole); and Al, the handler for the three-headed hound that guards the gates of Hell. This cast of characters accompanies RJ through her time in the afterlife and will do their best to gently shove her in the right direction.
I received this book for free from YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t sway my opinion of the book.
I am averse to death. Anything related to dying, not being alive, anything…I tend to try and avoid it. If people die, I go to that place called De Nile. No, really. I do. But what attracted me to It’s A Wonderful Death? If I’m honest, the cover. I started with the cover, and then I read the synopsis. I thought it was going to be funny, and in some aspects it was. Okay, I’ll break it down for you.
What I liked:
I thought RJ was a tough character and she knew what she wanted. Stubbornness was her strength but also her wit was never-ending. She refused to let someone take what was rightfully hers away without a fight, and I admired that. She didn’t take things too seriously and that made the story read that much easier. I liked her voice and I could get into the story. The reapers, the Angels, the people in charge of helping RJ on her first visit to ‘Limbo’, were all interesting and I found I could have read about them for far longer than I did. I particularly liked ‘Death Himself’ and imagining him wearing Bermuda shorts…lol. He was completely at odds to what I’m used to seeing/reading in other stories.
The pacing was well, and writing style made it flow and considering I’m not a big ebook reader, I felt relaxed. There was a lot of philosophical jargon within this and I did find myself rolling my eyes a lot, but that just added to the non seriousness of it.
Okay, Now onto what I didn’t like.
Well, not so much didn’t like, but what kind took me out of the story and had me rating this 3 and a half stars overall.
Number one, though I liked RJ, I also found her, at times, highly annoying and dare I say it? Two dimensional. (Whatever that means.) There wasn’t much to her, besides snark and the points I made above..
There were a few points where consistency ran a little thin, and I found myself muttering things like “wait, what? *scrolls back pages* That didn’t happen…” or “That makes no sense.” and mistakes like mentioning ‘he said this’ when I would look back and it would be a she. I know, silly things, but there were enough that it bugged me. The biggest disappointment to me was the ending, however, and I had really hoped everything would work out in my favour. But it didn’t, and more than anything, it was annoying. I felt for sure that pretty much half the story was working towards something far better than what we got. That’s not to say it didn’t end on a somewhat happy note, because it did, and I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit when familiar characters reappeared.
There was a point when it got a little too…religious? I guess, for me. I’m not, at all, and I went into this thinking it was going to be lighthearted, full of humour and just…fun. And mostly it was, but there was one scene where it got…I don’t wanna say it…overly pretentious. Maybe because I’m not like these people, that’s probably it. But I’m pretty sure others love it, and that’s great. Go you! I didn’t NOT like this book and I’d recommend it because it is in fact a fun read, but like with some books, there are things that nag you and make it not as great as you wanted, and that’s, sadly, what happened here. Still, damn, I’m impressed I got the ebook read in plenty time to write this review. Haha. That, in itself, says a lot. 🙂
Sarah J. Schmitt is a K-8 school librarian and Youth Service Professional for Teens at a public library who, in addition to planning a variety of events, enjoys opening up the world of books to reluctant readers. She runs a teen writing program that combines Skype visits from well-known authors and screenwriters and critique group style feedback.
Prior to immersing herself in the world of the written word, Sarah earned her Masters of Science in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs from Indiana University where she worked with first year college students as they acclimated to college life. Sarah lives outside of Indianapolis with her husband, two kidlets and a cat who might actually be a secret agent. She is an active member of SCBWI, ALA and the Indiana Library Federation and is a regular participant at the Midwest Writer’s Workshop. Her debut novel, IT’S A WONDERFUL DEATH, comes out Fall 2015 from Sky Pony Press.
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