Friday, 30 July 2010

67: "Early to Death, Early to Rise" by Kim Harrison

Publisher: Harper Collins
Page count: 240 pages
Date begun: July 14th, 2010
Date finished: July 15th, 2010

WARNING! CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR ONCE DEAD, TWICE SHY, THE FIRST MADISON AVERY NOVEL!

Madison Avery may seem like a normal teenager going to high school, with her purple-tipped hair and her sneakers with skulls and crossbones on them. However, Madison is actually dead, and an important supernatural entity at that. Madison is the dark timekeeper, and her job is to control Reapers, dark angels sent to Earth to kill people who will turn out to do horrible things that will damn their souls, before said people are able to commit said actions. There is also a light timekeeper, who tries to protect the same people. Madison was killed by the previous dark timekeeper, who wanted to prevent her from succeeding him - even though she had no idea this was intended for her.

Now she has a fancy amulet she doesn't really know how to use, but means she has a human body. She also has a small entourage consisting of a dark Reaper meant to protect her, a former light Reaper who disagrees with the light timekeeper and is now neutral, both of whom are supposed to pass for foreign exchange students, a tiny former guardian angel who speaks mostly in limericks, and her best friend, who she seems to be developing feelings for.

Madison disagrees with her stated job description, and doesn't just want to send Reapers to kill people who are destined to commit horrible acts before giving said person a chance to change their mind. She doesn't believe in predestination, and when she finds out that Nakita, the Dark Reaper with her is supposed to kill a high school kid set to release a computer virus that ends up killing people, she insists that they go find him and try to talk him out of things before he needs to be killed. Since her new timekeeper powers aren't exactly under her control yet, she and her Reaper posse don't actually know precisely who the guy is - they have two suspects, and not very much time to figure out which of the boys is set to become a hacker with multiple deaths on his conscience, and which one is just the innocent friend.

I actually liked Early to Death, Early to Rise better than Kim Harrison's first young adult novel, Once Dead, Twice Shy, as the first novel was a bit confusing and mostly served as setup. Now that Madison and the supporting characters of the series, as well as most of the world-building has been established, the story flows better and is a much more entertaining read. I would not recommend picking up book 2 without first having read book 1, though.

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