My Best Friend Death is a joyless cycle of loss, guilt, and gullibility

maMy Best Friend Death by Michael Anthony, published June 8, 2014

I don’t even know where to begin. This book is all over the place and so devoid of hope or any redeeming qualities that I just can’t wrap my head around it. So let the SPOILERS begin while I try to muddle through this review.

Damien, whose mother died in childbirth, spent his 16 years of life trying to protect his brother Joey from their alcoholic, verbally abusive father only to be killed and brought back to life by Death and his alter ego Life. It’s a second chance to lead a normal, fun teenage life. He gets one year to be happy and be the teenager Damien never had a chance at being until he will once again die. Now named King, he starts over his new life in a new body at his old school. King gets the best friend and girlfriend that Damien never had. And then begins the endless cycle of loss, guilt, and gullibility.

First, King makes a mistake that results in his father’s death. Then there’s a school shooting where nine people die, then Joey commits suicide. Through this all, Death and King are like brothers. Living together, laughing together, getting high together. King believes everything Death tells him. Even when he does question things, he’s quick to swallow Death’s explanations and turn all the blame on himself. Even in the end when he discovers that Death killed him (Damien) to begin with, he still sets himself up for the ultimate betrayal.

The book ends so abruptly that it feels incomplete. I got to the last page and thought, what was the point of any of this? When I read the blurb, I thought it would be a story of Damien trying to outsmart Death to save his brother. It’s nothing like that. It’s a constant flip flop between King wanting a new life and King feeling guilty over where his family has ended up. The premise promised in the blurb never really comes to pass, and I just couldn’t find a way to like this book. Some of the things the characters did seemed so unlikely for high school students that they felt out of touch with reality. And I won’t get into how annoying the many typos and errors were. Editing is essential, peeps.

Sorry, but my recommendation is to skip this one.

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