Title: It’s a Wonderful Death
Author: Sarah J. Schmitt
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Setting: The Afterlife…mostly
Seventeen-year-old RJ always gets what she wants. So when her soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. But in her quest for mortality, she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between an overzealous archangel and Death Himself. The tribunal presents her with two options: she can remain in the lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires, or she can replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will result in a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no-brainer. She’ll take a walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?
But with each changing moment, RJ’s life begins to unravel, until this self-proclaimed queen bee is a social pariah. She begins to wonder if walking among the living is worth it if she has to spend the next sixty years as an outcast. Too quickly, RJ finds herself back in limbo, her time on Earth once again up for debate.
RJ is a snarky, unapologetic, almost unredeemable, very real girl. Her story is funny and moving, and teens will easily connect with her plight. Prepare to meet the Grim Reaper, who’s cuter than you’d expect; Hawaiian shirt–wearing Death Himself; Saint Peter (who likes to play Cornhole); and Al, the handler for the three-headed hound that guards the gates of Hell. This cast of characters accompanies RJ through her time in the afterlife and will do their best to gently shove her in the right direction.
I received this book as an ARC courtesy of Edelweiss in exchange for my honest opinion.
I thought the premise of this book was unique. I can’t recall many books where the story has taken place in Limbo. The details of Limbo were also pretty creative, with the lobby, the tribunal, and the laser disc version of “It’s Your Life”. Then you have the characters of Death, Saint Peter, and other angels who are nothing like you would’ve imagined them to be.
In the beginning, RJ seems to be irredeemable and totally unlikable. She’s a Mean Girl, selfish, self-centered, and bitchy (the book describes her as snarky and sarcastic which, in my mind, equals bitchy.). So, why give this girl a second chance at life, especially when the reader is given glimpses into RJ’s life back on earth? When RJ goes back to re-experience the three moments in her life that will be used to decide whether or not she deserves to get her life back, she is able to see how she is from the outside looking in and she doesn’t like what she sees and the reader begins to see a subtle change in RJ, but is it enough for the tribunal?
I liked this book. It had funny parts to it and sentimental parts and it was different. I did, however, think some of the characters were over the top. RJ’s arch nemesis, for instance, was like a soap opera villainess rather than a teenage girl. I also thought the parts meant to be poignant were also very soap opera-esque. I think this book would be much more appreciated by its intended audience rather than the mother of teenagers, lol.