Thursday, April 8, 2010
Review: By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters
Rating: 5 out of 5
By the time she is 15, Daelyn Rice has tried—and failed—to kill herself more times than she’d care to remember. Stuck in a neck brace and unable to speak after a botched suicide attempt, Daelyn takes comfort in Through-the-Light.com, a website for people who are extremely serious about suicide. There, Daelyn slowly reveals the years of suffering at the hands of heartless bullies that drove her to hate herself so much she wishes herself dead.
In the real world, however, there are still a few weeks to go before she finally “Completes.” And a dorky but endearing boy named Santana keeps trying to talk to her on the bench where she waits for her parents to pick her up every day after school. But Daelyn is hurt beyond repair. It is too late for someone to reach her…or is it?
BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS, I’LL BE DEAD tore my insides raw. As I read, I screamed. I cried. I threw the book across the room. I apologized and cradled it delicately in my hands. I also chuckled and fell in love with the characters, flawed as they all are. Julie Anne Peters is nearly unmatched when it comes to writing about difficult, taboo, controversial, and absolutely necessary subjects, and her latest book is a terrifying masterpiece that deserves to find its way into everyone’s hands.
Daelyn is not an easily likable protagonist. I hope to God that very few of us out there can actually understand where she is coming from, a dark and frightening world so terrorized, so beaten, so loveless that, for her, suicide is a form of salvation. And yet, as she slowly reveals to us her bullied past, we invariably find ourselves at once within her, shocked into silence at what we experience being her, and at her side, emotionally invested in attempting to give her hope. It’s a powerful duality of readers’ position that only the most skilled of novelists can achieve.
And indeed, Julie Anne Peters’ incredible writing skills are brilliantly showcased in this book. Daelyn’s voice is cynical and snarky without being overwhelmingly pity-inducing. Peters’ prose is short, to the point, and lyrically sweet. Sometimes succinctness is the greatest form of power.
I can’t end this review without pointing out how absolutely lovely Santana is—but I’ll let you find that out for yourself. Needless to say, I wish I could place a copy of this book into the hands of everyone between the ages of 12 and 18. Perhaps if everyone were allowed this candid look into Daelyn’s hurt, bullying and suicide—bullycide—would be hopefully less of a terrifyingly real problem.
Elizabeth Scott (Living Dead Girl)
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Cover discussion: 4.5 out of 5 - With the exception of the model (whom I think is too pretty and her expression too...placid to be Daelyn), I love everything about this cover. The way the bright red rose petals contrast astonishingly with the black and white, the title treatment. There's just so much atmosphere going on that I love.
Hyperion / Jan. 5, 2010 / Hardcover / 224pp. / $16.99
Copy bought by me.