Saturday, July 24, 2010

Me and Death - A Review

Disclaimer:  A copy of this book was provided by Tundra Books for review. The views expressed here are honest and are in no way influenced by the author or the publisher.

Synopsis via Goodreads

 The story of one boy’s experience with the (not so) sweet hereafter.

Fresh from having stolen a piece of fruit and taunting the grocer, Jim, a fourteen-year-old wannabe gangster, bully, and car thief, is run over by a car. What follows is a hilarious, bleak, and ultimately hopeful visit to the afterworld, courtesy of Richard Scrimger, one of the country’s finest writers.

This is an afterlife peopled with unforgettable characters that might be drawn from video games: angry Slayers, tearful Mourners, and scary Grave Walkers. Jim meets them all and is given the chance to return to earth with the extraordinary gift of knowing what happens when we die. Now he must deal with living demons, including a neighborhood torturer and a truly creepy older sister. With imagery from the mean streets as well as the arcade, Me and Death is thought-provoking, exciting, sad, and funny — sometimes all at the same time

My Review

In the story “Me and Death”, ‘death’ as implied by the title, pervades the entire story, in so that the story begins with a near death experience and ends with one. From this main theme many sub-themes are further developed, namely the social commentaries of failed and abusive families and coming of age and entering into adulthood.

The story takes the readers on an adventurous and wild but most times thought-provoking journey with the young protagonist, 14 year old Jim. Jim is introduced to us as a bully, a trouble-maker and a menace to society. However after a near death experience, he meets Tadeusz, one of the many ghosts who he encounters on the path to become a ‘reformed’ person. Interestingly, what all these ghosts have in common is that they are confined to Roncy because of their unhappy and or troubled past. Tadeusz takes Jim to the Jordan Arms; what would appear to be heaven, as he and Jim ascend into the clouds. However Jordan Arms is no Garden of Eden. Everything is grey, everyone there has lost their color and what they all share in common is misery and sadness. There, Jims gets the opportunity to look back at his life, acknowledge the people who he has hurt and in the process he gets a wake up call.

“Me and Death” is a cleverly written book which has multiple didactic lessons. The author brings to light, sometimes in a comical way, many issues which plague society. Jim’s mother is a drunk and she hardly pays him any attention and his sister abused him as a child in an attempt to seek the attention of her mother. Worthy of mention is the absence of Jim’s father in the story. Jim hardly knows anything about him. These facts cause the readers to empathize with Jim and even justify his malicious and rebellious behavior since the readers come to understand that Jim is simply not loved.

Also, through the relationship between Lloyd and his father, another important issue which arises is abuse in the family. Lloyd is locked in the trunk of his father’s car and has to sleep there as a form of punishment. The author admits that Lloyd’s situation in the book was channeled from a true story in which a five- year- old boy in Texas suffered similar abuse from his father.

I would recommend this text to teenagers and young adults because there are many valuable lessons that can be learnt from the text. The story was at most times enjoyable although at other times predictable. What i enjoyed the most was Jim’s wit and good sense of humor, even in his near death experience. He says and does things which a real life 14-year-old would do.

Richard Scrimger has brought an interesting story to his readers, one in which a teenage boy stops being a boy and becomes a man.


Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I don't read a lot of YA, but this sounds good! Thanks for the good review.

jewelknits said...

This sounds like a good one for my Not-So-Bebe Girl! Thanks for the review!

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries

Anonymous said...

An excellent Review.After reading this I must see get a copy of this book! continue the good work!

Anonymous said...

great review!

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