Thursday, November 8, 2018

I, Death

My brother gave me his copy of Mark Leslie's I, Death.  It sounded interesting enough, so I decided to give it a read after finishing Rhubarb.

I, Death is the story of Peter O'Mallick.  O'Mallick is a teen who has been surrounded by death his entire life.  His guidance counselor suggested Peter write about his experiences as a way to get through them all, so Peter starts a blog (which is the majority of the book).  Peter documents his daily life and his attempts to get over his girlfriend Sarah cutting him out of her life.  And slowly the bodies pile up around him.  Peter becomes increasingly convinced that there's a death curse around him.  And what's more, he's right.

The first part of the book is written in blog posts, complete with people commenting.  People on the internet find Peter's story (pretty much right away too, which is rather impressive for a blog) and try to cheer Peter on and give him advice.  Unfortunately Peter scorns a lot of the advice, especially when people disapprove of his stalking of Sarah (he literally sits in his uncle's car down the street from her house at one point). When one of those commenters, who Peter takes exception to, winds up dead, Peter starts believing more and more that he is killing the people in his life that he gets angry with. The first part of the book ends with him realizing that people die when they look into his eyes (which doesn't explain how the internet guy dies, but I digress) and, after accidentally killing his aunt and uncle, Peter attempts to kill himself by staring into a mirror.

Parts two and three are written as a traditional narrative, rather than a series of blog posts.  Part two details the life of a gang leader who discovered Peter and plots to use Peter's powers to his own advantage.  He just needs to figure out a way to use Peter without getting killed by Peter's powers.  Then part three has Peter under his control, killing people while thinking that his mentor is benevolent.  But it all falls apart when he discovers Sarah is still alive.

I found part three really, really abrupt in its telling.  This was especially true when it came to Sarah: I wanted to get more of Sarah's side of the story, but that was pretty much all told in the epilogue.  But even besides that, Peter's adventures with his new mentor still felt like they were being narrated through the blog posts, rather than actually being shown.  This part of the book was rather disappointing.

I also had a really hard time caring about Peter.  For the first half of the book, I did kind of feel for him: he was hurting because the love of his life broke up with him.  But then he became a stalker (and was getting mad at anyone who tried to talk him out of his stalking behaviour) and I really started to dislike him.  What's more, the fact that he ended up with Sarah after all that really didn't sit well with me.

I also wasn't at all prepared for the tone shift in parts two and three.  Where part one was an angsty teenager talking about his life, parts two and three suddenly dealt with gangs and a whole lot of rather graphic violence.  Needless to say, I, Death really wasn't my kind of book.

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