April 4, 2013

Review: Death & Co. by D.J. McCune

Title: Death & Co.
Author: D.J. McCune
Release Date: May 2nd, 2013
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Page Count: 279
Source: Borrowed from Faye
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 
Adam is a Luman, and it runs in the family. Escorting the dead from life into light, Adam must act as guide to those taken before their time. As his older brothers fall into their fate however, Adam clings to his life as a normal kid - one who likes girls, hates the Head and has a pile of homework to get through by Monday morning. When Adam gets a terrible premonition he realises that he must make a devastating choice, risking his life, his family and his destiny.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

Adam comes from a family of Grim Reapers. I mean, the book calls them Lumens, but they mostly go around, helping people who've died get to their afterlife. However, there isn't just one Grim Reaper. There are lots of them and they have governing bodies and laws and all kinds of other things that you wouldn't think Grim Reapers would have. The only problem? Adam doesn't want anything to do with this. He throws up when he goes out with his father and brothers to help souls to the afterlife. He wants to stay in school and be a doctor - to save lives, not end them. But that's just not in his cards. Or is it?

Let's break this down:

You guys know I love a good Grim Reaper book, so really this book should have been perfect for me. Except it wasn't. For a bunch of reasons.

First of all, this one felt a little less Young Adult and a little more Middle Grade. Except for the actual death scenes, which should FOR SURE not be in a MG book (totally heavy. Especially that ending). Either way, I'm not sure if that was the intent or maybe just a hazard of using a mid-teen male as the protagonist, but I just didn't feel like the book as a whole was very YA. Adam and his friends are all kind of... juvenile? Which is maybe how boys their age behave, but it's not usually the feel I get from boys in YA books.

And then there's Adam himself, who I feel bad for, but that's about it. Like, I don't envy the position he's found himself in, but I don't understand why he has so much trouble wrapping his head around an idea he's been raised with. He should at least be able to understand why what his family does is so important. But he can't, which annoys me because my favorite part of the whole story is the Lumen society and the way it's structured. That was totally fascinating, while everything else felt kind of ordinary.

Aside from all that, Adam just feels all over the place. One second he's dealing with his family/moral issues, then he's kind of chasing after this girl, then he's messing with his principal, then he's dealing with bullies... it's all kind of scattered. Which is mostly, I think, the fault of the plot. The plot is trying to be serious and funny all at the same time - the YA/MG conflict as noted above. It's also just trying to show us too many things in too few pages. I feel like D.J. McCune would have been much better off picking two of these things (romance and philosophical/moral dilemma?) and letting the rest be little stuff that's not explored so much.

All in all, I liked the premise, I just might have liked it better if our protagonist were a little older. Or maybe I would have liked the book better if it were more focused. I don't know. I didn't hate it and I might read the next one if there is a next one (I think there's supposed to be?) but I just wasn't blown away by a story that could have easily stolen my heart.

The long and short of it?

Plot: INTERESTING. Just not so well-executed.
World Building: The structure of everything makes plenty of sense, especially the way the whole Lumen world works.
Character Development: Eh. Adam makes a big revelation or two, but that's about it.
Prose: The writing matches the execution of the book - pretty straight forward and maybe a little juvenile.
Would I Recommend This Book?: Not really. Even if you really like Grim Reaper-esque books like I do, I'd skip this one and picking up something else.

Do you like Grim Reaper-y books? Will you pick this one up even though I didn't love it so much? Tell me all about it in the comments below!


  1. I haven't read very many Grim Reaper books, but the idea intrigues me. It must be a hard knock life to be dealing with dead people all the time! I'm sorry that this one ended up not working out too well for you. It's my theory that it's VERY difficult to balance multiple plots, so it's not always wise to include them all in a story.

    1. It's definitely hard to balance multiple plots. The story loses focus and essentially loses the reader, which is no good. >.<

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