Friday, 24 April 2015
Review: Denton Little's Deathdate by Lance Rubin
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: March 26th, 2015
Denton Little's Deathdate takes place in a world exactly like our own --- except that everyone knows the day on which they will die. For Denton, that's in just two days - 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 mysterious 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.
This book is an unusual, darkly-comic look at death and what it means to die. Death is still a subject people don't like to talk about, even though it touches every single one of us, but Lance Rubin has taken said subject and completely turned it on its head. There's no death taboo here - it's happening, and that's just how it is. So deal with it.
I found this whole attitude completely refreshing, not to mention fascinating. Everyone in this future world knows their deathdates - the date when they will die - they just don't know how it will happen. I personally alternated between wishing I too could know my deathdate and hoping I never did, my opinion changing with every chapter. It'd be cool, right? You could plan everything and know what was coming. But would that knowledge make your life better or worse? Thankfully it's not something we'll ever have to worry about, but for Denton Little this day is what his whole life has been leading up to.
Now Denton is a funny guy, self-deprecating, fiercely loyal and as stupid as any other seventeen-year-old boy out there. The only difference for him is that his deathdate is tomorrow, so he has very little of his life left to actually live. He chooses to spend it with family and friends, right up until the moment when things start to get REALLY weird and his deathdate suddenly seems more dangerous than it ever did before. Seriously, as if he hasn't got enough to cope with, he's dodging death left, right and centre. Poor guy.
Lance Rubin has written a really funny book with Denton Little's Deathdate, but I don't mean the kind of funny that will have you rolling around clutching your sides. I mean sarcastic, dark, satirical humour, the kind you find in episodes of Six Feet Under - an underhanded comment as a dead body is being prepared for burial, or a situation you shouldn't laugh at but inwardly you do. That's what reading this book is like, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Denton Little's Deathdate employs my kind of humour, dark and unrelenting and also completely inappropriate in many instances. I love it. It's a highly unusual, intelligent book, posing many questions that can't possibly be answered and that, truthfully, don't even need to be. It makes you think, makes you laugh awkwardly and, ultimately, makes you glad to be alive. Three cheers for Denton!