Title: Denton Little’s Deathdate
Author: Lance Rubin
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 14th April 2015
Rating: 4/5 stars
Thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy to review!
Imminent death has never been so funny…
Tomorrow is the day I’m going to die. I don’t mean to get all dramatic about it. I’ve known that tomorrow is the day I will die since I was born. Just like almost everyone else in the world knows their deathdate. But do I need to get movie-preview-voice-over-guy intense about it? Probably not.
If Denton Little knew what was in store on his last day on Earth – hangovers, love triangles, jealous exes, shotgun standoffs, and mysterious rashes – he probably wouldn’t be so calm. And did I mention that Denton’s deathdate is the same day as senior prom? Oh yeah. Good times…
So I kept getting the name of this book wrong – for ages, I thought it was Denton’s Little Deathdate, as though the deathdate itself was unimportant, just an everyday occurrence. But it isn’t like that. The world in which this story is set is very like our own, only most people know the dates on which they will die, due to a new brand of genetics. Rubin doesn’t really go into detail about the science, which might have been nice, but then again, our narrator is a seventeen-year-old boy who probably isn’t all that interested in this perfectly natural part of life.
The premise might seem a little silly, and the book is a little silly too! But it so refreshing to find a cheerful book about death! The book runs over 48 hours – the day before and the day of his impending death. And it is very very funny! Paolo is Denton’s best friend, thrown together by the unfortunate earliness of their deathdates. He and Denton have an hysterical relationship, keeping each other laughing despite this tragedy. It is really cool to see their ‘bromance’, a relationship type which is often lacking in young adult fiction.
Despite having chosen to live a ‘normal life’, Denton’s last 48 hours on the planet are anything but. On the first page, he wakes up in his best friend’s cranky sister’s bed, with a huge hangover and no memory of what happened the night before. He then discovers a purple rash which progresses up his body, as the day goes on. Is that what will kill him? Or will it be the stress of keeping from his girlfriend that he woke up in another girl’s bed?
After giving the worst eulogy ever at his own funeral – which turns into a dance party in celebration of his life – Denton runs into a stranger who claims he knew Denton’s mother, who died giving birth to him. This stranger raises a ridiculous number of questions Denton needs answered, but he is running out of time.
The character mix was pretty cool. I particularly loved Denton, but also loved the characters with whom he had good relationships. Raquel, his stepmother, the woman who raised him, was just brilliant – I loved seeing the cute relationship between her and Denton. You don’t often see a nice stepmother! She was also super involved, which is different to a lot of YA, where the adults are just side characters. Millicent was also a nice addition – she is Denton’s neighbour and an anomaly, in that her deathdate has not been determined. And Grandpa Sid was pretty cool – I liked that he thought death should be treated in the old-fashioned way; he offered a really tight link to our current customs.
Lance Rubin’s writing style has been compared to John Green’s, however I really don’t see it. Sure, his themes include death and dying, but the tone is incredibly upbeat, and in case you haven’t noticed by now, ridiculously funny! There is a little bit of a cliffhanger at the end, but the next book isn’t too far away – it’s due out early 2016. A lot of new plot is introduced in the end of the book, which will most likely be dealt with in the sequel. It felt a little bit fast and underdone, but ultimately this book is about the humour. The plot comes second.
This book is thought-provoking, but mostly just funny. It has a few problems with world-building and believability, but the humour truly overrides that! Most of all it raised this question: if you could know the date of your death, would you want to? Answer below! I think I would rather live in blissful ignorance, like Millie….