See that cover right next to this text?
That cover screams: "Emma, do NOT read this book". It looks scary and like a lot of people will have a very gruesome and horrible death.
However, luckily for me, I read the blurb of this book that was send to me by author Weston Kincade. And that blurb didn't sound bloody and terrible - it sounded like this was a fascinating story about a boy with a special talent. His talent? Seeing people's death when he touches an object the deceased touched while dying - anyone still with me?
A Life Of Death is a mysterious and exciting book. Alex is a teenager who is suddenly confronted with this new talent. He confides in his friend Paige and his local pastor, who both tell him that he should use his talent to help people.
So how exactly do you help people with a slightly creepy and totally unbelievable talent? Well, that's what the characters in this book need to figure out.
And that plot is immediately the strength of the book - no elaborate love stories (though there are some romantic elements worked in), no high school drama to distract from Alex's mission - it's a very simple book which tries to solve the question: "How can you help someone with this power?".
That might make the book sound boring, but that is definitely not the case. There are many twists and turns in the plot, which kept me on the edge of my seat (fine, bed - who reads on a chair anymore?) and urged me to keep reading and reading. I can't say too many things about them, because I don't want to spoil the plot for future readers, but trust me - the first 187171 things are not what they seem. At all.
Alex is the narrator of the book and the one through which we see how a variety of people died. He's a kid that had all the bad luck of the world thrusted upon him: his dad died, his stepdad is an prick, his mother has no backbone and his stepsisters are like strangers to him. We can't help but feel bad for him and to support him through his journey.
The problem I had was with Paige, Alex's friend and, I guess this doesn't spoil toooo much, romantic interest. Paige and Alex are pretty close, so it's not weird that he decides to tell her about his powers. What is weird is that she's totally understanding of it. The guy says he can see how people died and with one piece of proof (that he could have totally looked up), she believes him AND starts to help him in his plan to save people.
I'm all for crushes and I realise that teenage romance can be quite obsessive - as in "I believe everything you say and I'll do whatever you want, because I'm 16 and madly in love with you". But Paige seems like a really intelligent girl - Alex is smarter than Ron from Harry Potter, but Paige is still clearly the Hermoine in the group. She comes up with ideas of how to help people, she guides him through those ideas and she catches him when everything falls down.
So why does she believe him so quickly? I don't know - I guess she's still young and naive. However, when you put that small detail aside, she is a very likeable character. It is nice to see a book that's centred around a boy, but has the girl emotionally save the boy the whole time. It was about time YA stopped being all about the boy saving the girl. I can't wait to see if the author continued this theme in the other books of the series.
A Life Of Death is a short and very exciting read. The writing style works for the kind of story it is - it's straight forward and action packed, just like the plot. There is originality in the strength of the female side-character and that's enough reason that any YA lover should pick up this book.