It's a Wonderful Death
by Sarah J. Schmitt
Published on October 6th 2015
by Sky Pony Press
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal
Source: The Fantastic Flying Book Club
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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.
I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I was a little skeptical going into this book – there have been some mixed responses from the other earlier reviews and Bieke wasn’t a fan of it. On top of that my first favourite review copy ever (and I’m talking back in 2013 or so) was Unreap My Heart, a book with a similar storyline. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to stop myself comparing the two… and favoring the other. But it didn’t work out that way. At all.
It’s a Wonderful Death followed RJ, a 17-year-old “mean girl”, who has been accidentally reaped – that is, her soul was snatched by a Grim Reaper before it was meant to. She’s dead. And boy is she not happy about that… which is why it was so hard to like her at first. She was a bit of brat, honestly. But I guess that was part of the appeal. We got to see her transform from this completely selfish girl to someone that became a lot more thankful and understanding. She didn’t lose her spunk or her feisty attitude at any point which was great because no one can become a completely different, perfect individual over night.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find the characterization completely believable at times. I think anyone in her situation would have done what RJ did, she wasn’t special in that way. If she had been a “mean girl” and made decisions that reflected that than she wouldn’t have gotten what she wanted, and we all knew that, so we also knew that it couldn’t have gone any other way. I also don’t know how much those decisions were made because she genuinely wanted to change or if she simply was trying to save herself, which was obviously worrisome. We wanted to see her became a better person because she wanted too, and not because she had to. But either way, I was happy with the character that we ended up with. RJ had matured and grown into a MC that was actually pleasant and a delight to read about. Props to an author that achieve that.
I think that the plot managed to distinguish itself from other books of this little sub-genre without too much bother. There were a lot of elements that I’ve seen before – the “official”, office-like afterlife, a personified death with personality (why does everyone think he wears ridiculous clothes like Hawaiian shirts?) and all that – but I loved how the author tried to explore other elements of the afterlife like what it means to have fulfilled your life to its fullest potential and truly make an impact. It looked at the way that all of our lives interconnect and how the death of every person can change the world. In that way, I think the ending was fantastic . It made me a little teary and emotional, but I think it really showcased what the story was trying to tell its readers.
Overall, I thought this book was truly enjoyable and I loved seeing the protagonist develop so well over the book. It was a little unbelievable at times though, and I’ve seen a lot of books that have tackled this sort of situation that I would recommend over this. Regardless, I have no regrets about picking this up and if you love this sort of book – like I normally do – then I’d consider recommending it to you.