The Death of Death is an odd and very short story. First of all, I should explain. This does seem to be aimed at a younger age group, but it was thatThe Death of Death is an odd and very short story. First of all, I should explain. This does seem to be aimed at a younger age group, but it was that title that appealed to me - I had thought it might be slightly like a Pratchett work. I wasn't entirely wrong, but that doesn't mean I was entirely right either... It also appealed as it was Christmas Day, and I had a new Kindle Fire to download books on to, and this title was under the 'free' books. So, yes, free will get me reading a lot. This is the first of those ones that I chose to read and I'm glad I did.
So, The Death of Death. There's no real way to describe the content of this very short story without going too far into spoilers, but I'll give it a shot. We are introduced to a character who is about to die, as she well suspects, and as has confirmed by her Guide. Before she dies, she would like her Guide's story - the story of how the Guide died. Except that's something the Guide doesn't know. So she goes looking.
And yes, that's all I can give as a summary, and even then it spoils a bit. For as short a story as it is, there is a very strong emotional punch to it all. Parker's words - though in need of some editing in places - convey their view of various afterlives well. They also manage to convey gruesome murders in a sympathetic light as seen by the people who were murdered, an interesting turn of events. Yes, I did just give a spoiler of sorts there, but I suspect that you had already guessed you'd hear about other people's deaths having read the summary of the story that I gave.
When we get to the ending - and what a bittersweet ending - there's a sense of ... being deprived, I think is the best way to explain it. While I think having gone on any longer than they had would have ruined the story, I did find myself wanting to spend more time with this world. I wanted to know more about the Guides, and the people who become them. I'd be interested to see if there's any other in this world.
3 out of 5, because it was just a bit too short for my liking. ...more
Disney are good at making franchises. Descendants is the one that hit in October/November 2015, with a DCOM that featured the children of Maleficent,Disney are good at making franchises. Descendants is the one that hit in October/November 2015, with a DCOM that featured the children of Maleficent, the Evil Queen, Cruella de Vil and Jafar going to the same school as the children of the heroes we love from the movies. This novel serves as a prequel to the movie, while at the same time fleshing out the world and the characters further than the 90/100-odd minute time frame would allow.
Melissa de la Cruz is a talented author, clearly working within the confines of what Disney have given her, and still managing to create a world that comes across as deeply horrific for our lead villain children. With the right words chosen, we're aware too much of the lives they would have been living and it sets up the whole message of the franchise: are we like our parents? Do the sins of the parents have to be taken out on the children, and basically what does good and evil mean anyway? If the Good people are capable of cruelty, then surely the Evil people are capable of selflessness. Of course, that could just be me reading far too much into it, but it is interesting to see how people react when you just describe the conditions to them. Kudos to you, Cruz, for creating an atmosphere that has people raising their eyebrows and asking what the hell the heroes are on.
The story of the novel is a quest type tale, with the usual bonding and friendship coming from it that would would expect. What was not expected, however, was which villain kids had been 'friends' the longest, though having read the book it now makes perfect sense. The lead character is Mal and she is an interesting character to follow. Named for her Mother, but barred from the name until she proves herself, Mal is desperate to be the next Mistress of Evil, a Queen of Darkness, and spends all of her time doing as much evil as she can, even coming up with long convoluted plans that exist only to cause one person misery. She's a smart, sharp girl, who can think on her feet and roll with the punches - though she'd much rather be giving them.
Her Mother's demands drive the plot, and her need to prove herself is what keeps it moving. It's quite sad, really, seeing how the children of the Isle interact with their parents. Without stating it outright, Cruz makes the reader aware of exactly what is going on here and the effect it has on each of the characters we meet. It will be interesting to see if this subtext is ever addressed head on in the sequel novel.
Overall, I'd say this is a book worth reading, and while it is very clever in its use of language, don't go into it expecting great literature. The audience this is aimed at is probably just a little older than the usual audience for Disney products, and the language used reflects that. Still well worth reading though, and I look forward to the sequel....more