Book: It’s a Wonderful Death by Sarah J. Schmitt
Release Date: October 6th 2015
Reading Format and Edition: Hardcover, Sky Pony Press in 2015
Rating: 3,5 out of 5 stars
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.
It’s a Wonderful Death is about a girl whose soul accidentally gets taken by a reaper. This tickled my interest from the moment I heard of this book. Unfortunately it lacked the emotional punch I was expecting.
A lot of that has to do with the fact that R.J. was not a character I was taken with from the start. She was a big complainer. Granted dying o early because a reaper made a mistake would upset anyone, but she could go on and on. I understand she was like that for the plot so she could improve, better herself throughout this story, but it didn’t make it fun to read. She was however snarky in places that could draw out a smile in me.
She does improve throughout the book as that is a part of the plot. But for me her tests to show she could change and was worth making an exception for , went too easy. They were snap moments, and it was all too obvious which choices she would have to make. I think having longer moments would have been better because she would have to prove herself more and struggle with the consequences some of her new choices had created. We could have seen her really struggle where as I don’t feel she did in this set up. Also she knew she had to do these changes to save herself. Not because it was the right thing to do.
The ending is something that seems to have upset some people. Personally I quite like this ending, and had I cared more about RJ, it could have been a great emotional punch. But as such I did appreciate the twist. I did feel the hint shortly before it happened really wasn’t needed. It took away the surprise.
The cast of characters surrounding her were far more interesting. The reaper that had taken her soul for instance. I don’t think he was in this enough. Death was an interesting figure. I liked how he was portrayed. The friends RJ makes later on in the book were great too. They did give me warm and fuzzy feelings.
There were little things in the afterlife and death that were touched upon (Madeline, how someone’s death can change the world), that were interesting and that did deepen this book more so than the main story line for me.