My Rating: 3/5 Stars
Denton Little’s Deathdate takes place in a world exactly like our own except that everyone knows the day they will die. For 17-year-old Denton Little, that’s tomorrow, the day of his senior prom.
Despite his early deathdate, Denton has always wanted to live a normal life, but his final days are filled with dramatic firsts. First hangover. First sex. First love triangle (as the first sex seems to have happened not with his adoring girlfriend, but with his best friend’s hostile sister. Though he’s not totally sure. See: first hangover.) His anxiety builds when he discovers a strange purple rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? And then a strange man shows up at his funeral, claiming to have known Denton’s long-deceased mother, and warning him to beware of suspicious government characters. . . . Suddenly Denton’s life is filled with mysterious questions and precious little time to find the answers.
Debut author Lance Rubin takes us on a fast, furious, and outrageously funny ride through the last hours of a teenager’s life as he searches for love, meaning, answers, and (just maybe) a way to live on.
So, I have mixed feelings about this one. I wanted to love it (it was brought to my attention as a comp title for a book I genuinely did love), but for some reason, I just never truly connected with it. Part of that might be that I picked it up after reading a book that was on the complete opposite side of the spectrum in terms of style, tone, and genre, and part of it might be that I’m simply not the intended audience (this book is most definitely geared toward teens — and I would say male readers — as opposed to some YA titles that also appeal to adults), but whatever the reason, I just didn’t love it as much as I hoped.
That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it though. I did. Quite a lot. But there was just something that never quite gelled for me. I will say that Rubin has done a phenomenal job at capturing the teen voice. Denton’s narration is clever and spot-on, the dialogue is snappy and flows well, and all of the character reactions felt perfectly in line with the plot, which, I might add, was highly original and intriguing. So what kept me from falling head over heels for this one?
My best guess is that I struggled with the pace. It moves incredibly fast, and while that makes for a quick, fun read, it never seemed to have the substance I was looking for, the quiet moments in between all the shenanigans. It reads very much like a sitcom, and in fact, would make an excellent television show or movie. The rapid-fire dialogue, while excellent, was a tad exhausting at times and often reminded me of a stand-up comedy routine. And there was an awful lot crammed into what is essentially twenty-four hours of Denton’s life.
The concept of the novel is superb though, and I really wish there had been more closure on that front. I spent about 3/4 of the book wondering what the genre actually was, as it seemed to oscillate between science fiction and magical realism, at least until the end, when it became clear that it was definitely science fiction and possibly even a little dystopian. I wanted to know more about the world Denton and friends lived in, about how exactly science had evolved to the point where it could predict someone’s date and manner of death based on DNA. But I suppose those are answers we’ll get later in the series. (At least, I hope we do.)
Yes, it is a series, which is something that isn’t indicated until the very end of the book and the massive cliff-hanger, which further added to the episodic feel of the tale. There is a small teaser for the next one included — as in one page, small — but I don’t recommend reading it. I did, and it ruined the small sense of closure I had from the actual ending. So don’t do it if you can help it. It won’t add anything to your experience, in my opinion.
I enjoyed much of the snarky, first-person present-tense narration, and there were several moments that did genuinely have me laughing out loud. But I found myself wondering things like how quickly the pop culture references would date the story, and why the publisher chose certain punctuation stylings when I should have been invested in the characters.
Overall, I would recommend this book to an upper YA crowd — it does contain swearing, sex, and drug references — and I will continue to read the series. I guess I was just hoping for a little more than the book delivered.