Genre: YA Paranormal
Pub Date: September 2011; Dreamscapes, Ink
Format: Paperback, 251 pages
Source: Purchased directly from the author at an event.
Grief-stricken by the murder of her twin, Keely Morrison is convinced suicide is her ticket to eternal peace and a chance to reunite with her sister. When Keely succeeds in taking her own life, she discovers death isn’t at all what she expected. Instead, she’s trapped in a netherworld on Earth and her only hope for reconnecting with her sister and navigating the afterlife is a bounty-hunting reaper and a sardonic, possibly unscrupulous, demon. But when the demon offers Keely her greatest temptation—revenge on her sister’s murderer—she must uncover his motives and determine who she can trust. Because, as Keely soon learns, both reaper and demon are keeping secrets and she fears the worst is true—that her every decision will change how, and with whom, she spends eternity.
This is the second book I have read by Michelle Muto, the first being The Book of Lost Souls, which I reviewed earlier this year and really enjoyed. Don't Fear The Reaper is a darker story and demonstrates the breadth of writing Muto can offer the YA Paranormal genre. I've never read a story dealing with teen suicide (or suicide of any sort, for that matter), but I was quite impressed with how Muto wrote about it. Seriously, the opening chapters of the book were powerful -- I was fascinated, horrified, and yet felt sympathy for Keely over the course of reading the pages about her actual suicide. It is no small feat that Muto can tell the story in such a way that you could sympathize with Keely despite her choice to take her life.
The majority of the story focuses on Keely's afterlife in the Netherworld and touches a little on the affect her suicide has on her family, friends, and on-again, off-again boyfriend, Miles. Immediately upon Keely's death, we are introduced to Banning, the Reaper assigned to help Keely's soul cross over (to heaven or to hell is the question), and Daniel, a demon who is determined to make sure Keely's soul heads straight to hell. But, well, it's just a little more complicated than that... However, I am not going to spoil the story for you, but I will say that both Banning and Daniel are well-written characters and came to life on the pages -- probably more so than Keely, in fact.
My only issue with this book was that Muto tipped her hand way too early about what was ultimately going to happen and hinted at it again later before the event actually occurs. That doesn't take away from the fact that the story is interesting and beautifully written, but it did make me more anxious to get to the end and see how everything actually occurred. Despite that flaw, I would still recommend Don't Fear the Reaper, not only for Muto's handling of the difficult topic of teen suicide, but also her depiction of the in-between phase of a soul before it heads to its final destination.
Read this book...
~ If you like YA Paranormal stories dealing with the afterlife, angels, and demons
~ If you enjoyed Shadow Eyes by Dusty Crabtree