Denton Little is supposed to be dead. Mandatory testing that accurately predicts date of death set his deathdate as the same day as his senior prom, only instead of dying, Denton broke out in a bizarre purple and red rash and, um, didn’t actually die. Turns out, Denton might be the key to ending the stranglehold the DIA (Death Intelligence Agency) has on everyone. A rebel group led by someone Denton thought he’d never see again seems to have answers he desperately wants, but they also have a poorly concealed agenda that Denton doesn’t trust. What he really wants is to find out why he lived and use that information to save his best friend Paolo, whose deathdate is less than a month away.
I heard of this series in Charleston at YALLFest last November when I went to an author panel and heard Lance Rubin speak. He’s pretty much hilarious, and I felt like, okay, if his book is half as funny as he is, I definitely want to read it. Truth? It’s more than half as funny. Denton’s voice is fantastic—feels like spending an afternoon with a goofy, awkward kid in all the most amazing ways. Also, I loved Paolo. I think you’d have to be actually dead not to like him. He’s kind of the unfettered heart of the story and the loyal best friend. I loved him.
I wished there wasn’t so much profanity and other content in the story because that’s a thing for me and because I know it’s a thing for some of the people who I think would otherwise totally love this book. I also kept forgetting that Denton was a high school senior and thinking he was younger—which I think is just me.
The friendship and humor made this book a super fun read. The suspense elements blended pretty well with the humor (does that seem weird? I guess it does, but I thought it worked.) and gave it a cross-genre feel that I liked. I definitely recommend this to readers looking for a laugh-out-loud book or a less serious dystopian tale. If you liked Away We Go by Emil Ostrovski but want something lighter, this is probably the right speed for you.
Denton’s best friend Paolo and his sister are Hispanic. (Did I mention I love Paolo?)
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used pretty frequently. Some crude language.
Denton slept with his best friend’s sister before this book begins and mentions it without giving details other than that he was not sober and they both thought was about to die. He has a couple of sexual experiences described in moderate detail. One instance leaves behind some physical evidence that’s discussed a bit by Denton. There are several instances of boy/girl kissing and one boy/boy kissing.
At first Denton wonders if he really did die and is having a really strange experience in heaven (totally not the kind of heaven he was expecting).
Denton’s on the run from a governmental agency pretty determined to capture him and rumored to plan on torturing or killing him. Some brief chase scenes, bad guys with guns, that sort of thing.
Denton’s brother provides him with a fake ID that allows him to buy alcohol. Denton and his friends drink on more than one occasion. Paolo and Denton smoke pot. Paolo buys it from a kid at his school. It seems like maybe it began as a thing to do because they were going to die soon, so why not? But they do smoke more often than that.