karen's Reviews > By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead

By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters
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Sep 23, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: and-so-this-is-grad-school, why-yes-i-ya
Read from September 23 to 25, 2010

STOP!!!

this is the second part of a conversation about this book!! i got caris' sloppy seconds! to read the first part, please click here!

Caris: Maybe it was just your personality. Perhaps you're just not the type of dude who gets bullied. You know, badassery and whatnot.

I certainly cave on this point. The book was unbelievable. Both the website and Santana were only there to keep the girl from killing herself. Of course, all books do this. It seems that the bar is just set lower for teen fiction. This is one of those cases, as are most of the books I've read recently, where the plot of the book insults the intelligence of the reader. Teenagers are dumb, didn't you hear?

It's funny (and logical) that you bring up 13 Reasons Why. Over the past few days, I've come to realize that I like this book so much because of how much I hated Asher's book. I fucking hated 13 Reasons Why. The message killed me. Compare, for a moment, Hannah's complaints and Daelyn's. Best ass in school vs assaulted in the bathroom. Flirted with her vs made fun of her weight. The playing field is not level. Hannah killed herself for everyday shit. At least Daelyn's shit was painful enough to warrant her choice. I didn't like that Asher led the reader to believe that its reasonable to think one could kill oneself for the reasons Hannah did. Peters' character, at least, suffered a life that, as you say, seems unusually harsh. In conclusion, Jay Asher can suck it.

But tell me, go ahead and try, that you didn't love the fact that Daelyn was going to kill herself (and successfully this time) by putting a cinder block on her face in the bathtub.

karen: pff - i wasn't always this badass, and i never saw anyone else getting bullied, and i was one of those people who had a number of different social circles - student council and marching band and everything in between, so i sort of spanned the whole school (like greg's mom!!!) and i didn't really hear much of it. only one major sexual assault, and if she had given me the names, they would have been finished with their sexual careers. (okay, maybe i was a little badass)

so i am thinking that in rhode island, we just know how to treat people. roger williams taught us well and all that. no, i don't know. i'm older than you, right?? maybe it is a generation thing. (although i don't think i am THAT much older) maybe it's the heat?? when i took a class called "violence, compassion, and justice" in undergrad, they taught us that more violent crimes take place in the south than the north, and more in the summer than the winter in the north.

but it's a dry heat...

i wasn't in love with the asher book, either, but at least i was interested, as a reader, in where it was going. i wanted to know what the narrator had done to get into the tapes, and i was hoping she would eventually have a good reason for doing what she did. that rachel girl's review of that book is amazing. check it out. this book - not only was i not interested in the characters, the plot itself was boooooring. do it, kill yourself and get it over with, don't wait for A FRIGGING WEBSITE to give you permission. what was that all about. "i am really determined to kill myself, but the website told me to wait". ugh.

and as far as the sexual assault goes - i mean - it wasn't anything they are ever going to make a law and order episode about. some boys got a little gropey. i mean - yes - it was totally out of line and had it happened to me, there would have been consequences, but in order to impress a reader with the magnitude of an assault, i think she could have gone stronger. boob-grabbing and panty-pulling-down is not that bad on the spectrum of sexual assault.

and that is what pisses me off - because there is good teen fiction out there. this just isn't it. but it is popular. maybe this is like the baby version of john grisham or something. upsetting, but unchallenging.

true - a thumbs up for the cinder block. at least it was original.

but really, how hard is it to take some pills? in the blender?

Caris: Did you think, at any point, that Daelyn was going to kill herself? Or that Clay was guilty of anything?

I don't think I agree with you on the sexual assault thing. An attack like that is more about power and domination. Did they rape her? No. But they did shove her into a secluded area, fondle her, drag her out from underneath a bathroom stall (where she hits her head in the process), and attempt to pull her underwear off. When I think of the specifics, I feel ill. On a large enough spectrum, there's always something worse. But it's personal, isn't it? It's awful because it happened to her, not because it's worse than something that happened to someone else.

karen: ah, and there's the problem.

i have real trouble experiencing emotional connections with characters in books and movies. which is why i rarely cry at movies. i can never get past the idea of them as constructs. so if i knew someone this had happened to, or if i heard a news story, it would be one thing, but as far as it happening to a character... i can only think of it in terms of effectiveness to the reader. or plausibility.

i don't lack affect in real life, just in books n' stuff.

Caris: FYI- it would have been relevant to this conversation to mention that your last name was Bateman.

Oh man, your experience must've been even worse than mine. With that variety of literature-induced sociopathy, I would have been completely lost in both books. I can say, without reservation, that if you can't identify with Daelyn, then this book sucks ass. No wonder you've exhibited no sympathy whatsoever for these poor dead/dying kids.

That poses a unique sort of problem, though, doesn't it? I've found that every single one of the books I've read for class has relied on that emotional connection to draw the reader in. I've never tried to distance myself from the story, as to do so would make me have to actually pay attention to that drivel. When you read, then, you always require a solid, effective plot. Perhaps it's just because my expectations have gotten so low, but I'm glad I can stick with the emotional manipulation.

Going back to the questions I posed to you that you didn't answer (they wasn't rhetorical), I'd like you to answer them. Now more than ever. Those questions, which originally were based on the characters' emotional states, now are based on plot:

Did you think, at any point, that Daelyn was going to kill herself? Or that Clay was guilty of anything?

karen: sorry, sorry - fever makes me overlook tiny questions.

no - i never thought she would actually kill herself. even just reading the copy, you know that she will be redeemed through santana and given a reason to blah blah blah. that's why there is no reason to read the book - just read the flap and you get all you need to know.

as for clay. well, i was hoping. i was hoping he had done something that was small but led to something big and he wasn't even aware of it. something, anything, no matter how innocently it was done. otherwise, it is pure cruelty on her part to make him wait for his turn on all the tapes for nothing.

off to work!!

Caris: Seems like fever might be something you should stay home from work for?

I made a point to not read the flaps. I started that at the beginning and didn't want to read any of my assigned books. So now I just start reading them without having any idea what they might be about. Leviathan and Watersmeet have been genuine surprises. That's just bad flap editing, in my opinion.

I didn't think, even for a second, that Clay had done anything wrong. He was too nice. He got along with his mother and was well liked by classmates. On top of that, he liked Hannah. It was a poor setup for a huge letdown. Daelyn, though I felt strongly that she would survive, had a chance. I had 13 Reasons Why in mind and thought to myself that if that moron could do it, this moron's got to be able to.

karen: sure, but plenty of people on her list hadn't done anything wrong. whatsherface slapped her because she thought hannah had slept with her boyfriend. that is a stupid reason to kill yourself. clay could have done something accidentally, especially since he believed the rumors about her promiscuity and they intimidated him. all it would have took would be him going "i heard you were very experienced, please be gentle with me" and she could have gone apeshit and slit her wrists right there in the midst of a makeout session. she was a loose cannon, who could predict her responses??

i have to come to work, because today is a school day. and if i had skipped today, it would have been a nightmare. i barely remember today because there were so many books all i did was blur through the mall. in a fever. but now i get to talk teen fiction (for this and other related books) and then i can go home and finish solaris .

Caris: That's true. Hannah was a bit off, which is more interesting than Daelyn's victim complex. I had a hard time seeing Hannah as a character, as she manifested herself in those cassette tapes. She was more of a poltergeist.

The thought that keeps coming back to me is how insulting these books are to their intended audience. When I compare it to something I really liked, such as Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, it almost seems pointless because there is no real comparison. Here we have books that capitalize on shock (suicide) and don't really allow the reader to connect with the characters on multiple levels. Sure, you can share in Clay's bafflement or Daelyn's reaction to bullying, but they're not characters that stay with you. That's a big problem, I think, as these books rely on voice and character development to be memorable. But I only remember them because they sucked.

In Nick and Norah (which I consider to be the best piece of teen fiction I've ever read), the reader is exposed to real life. An uber cool real life, but real life nonetheless. There's self-doubt and pain, misunderstandings and relationship development. In these suicide books, death is almost a character. I don't like that they all try to reach the reader in a lovely-bones-guest-on-Oprah kind of way. It's lame. How are teenagers supposed to enjoy good fiction when they're constantly barraged by sparkly fucking vampires and stupid girls killing themselves. I've only recently jumped into this urine-filled kiddie pool and I already want to stop.

karen: ha! she was a poltergeist! and i kept wondering how she made the tapes... did she write everything out beforehand and then read from a script? how did she keep everything straight in her head - so calmly facing the destruction of her person? why didn't she ever fumble over her words or cry or do anything human? her tone was so bitchy and snarky - she doesn't strike me as a victim - as someone who wouldn't just fight her way out of her problems. clay seemed more likely to kill himself, mr. nice guy doormat, chasing after the broken girls.

there was a guy on the class last night who had struggled with depression before, and he said he could really relate to the way daelyn thought. shrug. i have been depressed, too, but at least i was interesting when i was depressed. (i did not say this in class because i am not an asshole) but teacher didn't like that book either, although she said she liked the last third. but that she may have been forcing herself.

i never read nick and norah, but i saw the movie, is it similar in tone and all?

don't give up on teen fiction! (suddenly i am an advocate) having just finished marcelo in the real world i can assure you it gets better. and are you the one who tried and gave up on hunger games?? if so, i don't know. that book is very good - it's not all vampires and wrist-slitting. i also enjoyed feed. oh, and that teenage survival series - those are pretty fun. it does get better. and if anything else turns up on my reading list that makes me think of you, i will tell you.


Caris: Script? Psh. That girl was just organized. Her emotions were so jacked up that she was able to get her message across in an inhumanly organized and well-paced manner. Those things were what made her believable, see?

Nick and Norah is similar to the movie, but different. It's better.

I haven't tried the Hunger Games, though I have been assigned to read the third (?!) book for class. I need a break from teen fiction. I need to see other people.



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Comments (showing 1-49 of 49) (49 new)

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karen i don't know how to make fancy status updates so i am using this space here to say i am not enjoying this book so far.


message 2: by chirpy (new)

chirpy harvey meow


message 3: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! karen: pff - i wasn't always this badass, and i never saw anyone else getting bullied, and i was one of those people who had a number of different social circles - student council and marching band and everything in between, so i sort of spanned the whole school (like greg's mom!!!) and i didn't really hear much of it. only one major sexual assault, and if she had given me the names, they would have been finished with their sexual careers. (okay, maybe i was a little badass)

This is the best paragraph.


The Crimson Fucker WOW, that was a long ass conversation! is there going to be a quiz about it later??? still! highly entertaining! and i agree with Eh!'s chose of best paragraph!


message 5: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine but at least i was interesting when i was depressed. (i did not say this in class because i am not an asshole)

I said something similar to this to a guy I"m in school with now but he's 35 so he can suck it up and take my advice.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

I love these two reviews. Great.


message 7: by Msmurphybylaw (new)

Msmurphybylaw I was just talking with my teenage daughter about thirteen reasons a couple of days ago. It seems it is going to be required reading for her health class. The jury is still out on my response to this.
She asked me about my brother's suicide and the conversation organically wound into a bizarre telling of the many teenage suicides we had in my school and how really fucked up it (high school) was. All 4 were boys and they didn't have much in common. One, my next door neighbor, was a real quiet kid, but I don't remember any bullying. No one left notes or sent neat little emotional blackmails.
There is still good teen lit out there, but using suicide as a message is an insult to, well just about everybody.


message 8: by Sparrow (last edited Sep 29, 2010 09:09PM) (new)

Sparrow Msmurphybylaw wrote: "I was just talking with my teenage daughter about thirteen reasons a couple of days ago. It seems it is going to be required reading for her health class. The jury is still out on my response to th..."

Doesn't Greg have some kind of beautiful and poignant discussion of this in one of his reviews? Columbine? Checking . . . Yes! Oops, edit: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


karen i don't mind books about suicide, but i want them to at least be well-written, especially if they are directed towards a teen audience, who are usually harsher critics of things that don't feel authentic. even that title... the most self-indulgent "look at me" part of all of this. boo.


karen i read that, but i remember nothing about it. but at least i don't remember hating it!


karen my half of the review is unpopular.


message 12: by Msmurphybylaw (last edited Sep 30, 2010 07:45AM) (new)

Msmurphybylaw Meredith wrote:Doesn't Greg have some kind of beautiful and poignant discussion of this in one of his reviews? Columbine? "
Thanks and yes it was a good review. I remember after that happened saying to my sister something like "Why can't boys kill themselves like they used too and leave everyone else alone." It's sounds harsh, but our family deals with sadness through humor. Our brother had shot himself 7 years before Columbine. He was 27. No longer a Teen.

I'm all for books about suicide as long as it is accurate and used not as a guilt hammer.

I read Ordinary People so long ago and I remember it being an excellent book about the loss of a favored child and how it impacted the more sensitive one. I need to put it on my reread list because I'm sure I've jacked up the interpretation.

We (Austin) just yesterday had a lovely suicide on the 6th floor university library. Now who is going to clean all of the entrails off of all of those pretty books?


karen yeah, i think i came across as insensitive, but i think suicide is insensitive. that being said, i firmly believe in the idea of DIY, if it needs doing.i'm all over the map,but i got my reasons.

thanks elizabeth !!

i am just feeling a little sad today, not daelyn sad, just glummish. and small.


message 14: by Msmurphybylaw (new)

Msmurphybylaw karen wrote: "my half of the review is unpopular."

13 to 11 is a pretty tight race. I hope you are feeler bigger soon :)


message 15: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Elizabeth wrote: "karen wrote: "i am just feeling a little sad today, not daelyn sad, just glummish. and small. "

Where is Eh! and her cute pictures of animals when you need her?

In my effort to cheer you up, I'll..."


Heh! Can I get your book group's mailing list? There this set of erotic stories inspired by Pride and Prejudice that they need to know about.

Cute pictures of sleepy animals!




karen aww - that's better.

a lady just yelled at me.
she did not know that i would have sleepy-animal relief here.....


message 17: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine why did she yell at you?


karen hahaha thanks caris!

don't worry, i'm not sore; it is just an observation. i won't be buying any cinder blocks or anything.


she yelled at me because i asked her why she was throwing books around and getting an attitude when i asked her to not sit in front of the books so i could get a book for a customer.


message 19: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine karen wrote: "she yelled at me because i asked her why she was throwing books around and getting an attitude when i asked her to not sit in front of the books so i could get a book for a customer. "

I find it difficult to believe any of that interaction was calm. no throwing books :(


message 20: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine Oh I can add to that.

17. for not smiling when a male customer tries to talk to you.
18. for telling people that they cannot sit blocking the books/aisle
19. for not having more copies in the "Back" of books no one actually wants.
20. For not caring any books by the most famous _______


on the other side there are good people like Zizek who come in and ask for crazy things and are very nice when you tell him that we can't get them.


karen i was very calm. and smiley. you know my smile.


i like that shirts are just a "suggestion"


message 22: by Jasmine (last edited Sep 30, 2010 12:03PM) (new)

Jasmine karen wrote: "i like that shirts are just a "suggestion""

wait says who?

oh sorry I see. yucky


message 23: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine honestly my favorite thing with customers is when they try to complain about another employee and you take the employees side so then they have o go find someone else to complain to about both of you.


message 24: by Megan (new)

Megan 21. For the fact that the computers don't save files after they are shut down
22. For not having the next month's issue of a magazine out the day it arrives in the mail
23. For the fact that the computers require a password
24. For not having access to someone's Yahoo password
25. For telling teenagers not to yell or throw things around
26. For not being psychic
27. For not reading mysteries
28. For not having job openings
29. For the size of the numbers on people's library cards
30. For the size of the font printed on people's receipts
31. For the fire alarm going off
32. For having a renewal limit
33. For charging for a disc somebody never returned
34. For asking people not to throw their library cards at me
35. For looking at my computer instead of knowing the answer offhand

*whew* this is cathartic. Thanks Caris


karen "For asking people not to throw their library cards at me"


yeah, but that's pretty bitchy of you, i gotta say


message 26: by Megan (new)

Megan I know, I'm walking a thin line.


karen do that many people try to throw things at you?


message 28: by Megan (new)

Megan Yes, I don't think I've had a book thrown at me (lobbed in my direction across the counter, maybe) but throwing cards happens often. I usually try to chalk it up to cold/unsteady hands and/or a slippery surface but sometimes it's just blatant. And that's when you just gotta be Rambo on 'em.


message 29: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Megan wrote: "And that's when you just gotta be Rambo on 'em."

Hahaa! Or like karen's Lifetime movie method?


message 30: by Msmurphybylaw (new)

Msmurphybylaw I felt so sorry for my librarian the other day. I was trying to use the self checkout and it kept telling me to see the reference desk.

So, Puzzled I drudge over to the desk and hand her my card and stack of books. She was so nice and she says "This is your Rec center card."
I cringed and apologized.

How many stupid people do you have to deal with in a day is beyond me.


message 31: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine Megan wrote: "31. For the fire alarm going off"

someone at our store got bitched out by a customer for opening late the day after there was a fire. like a real things caught on fire fire. and it was a guy who works in magazines so it isn't like he could have done anything. She then told him he had to give her a free cupcake. and she did not need any more cupcakes.


message 32: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine Msmurphybylaw wrote: "I felt so sorry for my librarian the other day. I was trying to use the self checkout and it kept telling me to see the reference desk.

So, Puzzled I drudge over to the desk and hand her my card a..."


oh I did that at cvs once. they were both red.


message 33: by Megan (new)

Megan Jasmine that is hilarious.

And msmurphybylaw, happens all the time... I don't think you're stupid :)

Eh?, I think I missed karen's Lifetime method. It sounds intriguing though.


message 34: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! I missed the story first time around, so she repeated it. I think this is the sketch of events: Someone was getting yelly and raised his arm to hit her. She grabbed his hand, slammed it down, and channeled Sally Fields with something like 'don't you ever hit me.' I think there was cussing. And she drew blood when he yanked his arm back.


message 35: by Megan (new)

Megan karen you're my hero! Thanks Eh!


message 36: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! And the legend grows!


karen hahahha - i just saw this!

yeah, i will not tolerate the hitting.


message 38: by Mesha (new)

Mesha Boo Your view on Jay Asher's book is absolutely terrible. He wasn't saying it was a reasonable excuse, because suicide is never reasonable. It's basically saying that every teen is different. We don't know who's hurt by whose words or doings. Some teenagers (I should know, I am one) are going to be hurt if someone shows them negative attention. Or, some just won't care.

Teenagers are all different. And we can't think of reasons for suicides less important than another reason. They are all equally horrible and one teen's suicide should get the same attention as another. The same teenager that committed suicide because they were raped and were messed up by it mentally should get the same attention as the teenager that committed suicide because they were labelled as the school whore due to a misunderstanding.

Don't put down Jay Asher because he showed the mental and emotional unstableness of a teenager that wouldn't typically come off as the type to commit suicide. I applaud him because his book was brilliant.


karen what he said.

no, but i agree that every suicide is a snowflake of highly personal motivation, but this book just trivializes the situation, and not in a parodic way like heathers (ask your folks) but in a kinda dangerous way.

The same teenager that committed suicide because they were raped and were messed up by it mentally should get the same attention as the teenager that committed suicide because they were labelled as the school whore due to a misunderstanding.

i agree with this in real-life, but in literature targeted to an audience whose emotions and hormones are pinging around like crazy, it does feel irresponsible. reading about a rape victim who kills themselves should, in some way, put things into perspective. "oh, i was only called a whore - things could be way worse." and this is what i griped about in my review for 13 reasons why, which infuriated me. i'm sure he's a nice guy and all, but broadening the scope of YA suicide-lit to be embracing and inclusive of comparatively trivial motives seems more permissive than cautionary messaging.


message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

God, Nick and Norah literally has an f word on every right page. Go ahead. Check. It's true. It's good though. And I have to say I liked Thirteen Reasons but I thought Hannah was over dramatic. Daleyn, though, there's no proof she kills herself in the end, it is vague and an open ending


karen yeah, i thought the whole point of this book was overcoming and finding better strategies for problem solving


message 42: by Allison (new) - added it

Allison Woah woah woah. I haven't read this yet, but reading your review I have to say something. In 13 Reasons Why (can't italicize- on mobile), Hannah is an extremely unhappy teen. That's the reason for suicide. Depression. Mental disorders. Just because she didn't have "reasons" doesn't mean her suicide was any less than anyone else's. Hannah was sexually assaulted (if I remember correctly? It's been four years since I read the book) and was, in her mind, bullied. You said "every day things" and you know what? You're right. Those are. But so are the points you brought up about this book. Bullying is sky rocketing along with mental disorders and suicide rates. I get called fat daily. I worry about my rolls showing through my shirt and then I hate myself for being me. Few people know I was put on steroids twice within one month because of health problems, which is why I gained (all my previously lost) weight. I have been clean from self harm and suicidal tendencies for five months, but I can relate to both of them (I assume) and it sucks. Every small comment on a bad day, even when "positive" rips you apart. Sends you over the deep end. And that's what happened to Hannah. She was just extremely unhappy and her reasons were just things that pushed her.

(My apologies for lack of paragraphs, way too many parenthesis, and any spelling or grammatical errors I made. Suicide and the reasons behind it is a really touchy subject for me and I needed to get that off my chest.)


karen i'm sorry you're having a hard time, but like you said, you haven't read the book. i'm not saying that bullying doesn't exist or that life isn't hard sometimes. i'm not saying that mental illness and sexual assault don't exist. i'm saying that i personally thought this book, which i did read, was a little irresponsible. you will let me know what you think after you've read it, i'm sure.


message 44: by Allison (new) - added it

Allison Of course! I was more saying that the wording was kinda harsh if that makes sense? I think I'll actually buy this book today so I can hopefully understand!


karen oh, jeez, i just realized this was NOT the thread for 13 reasons why. whoops. that's the one i usually get all the grief over. this book... i barely remember this book. so maybe you should come back after you read it and remind me what my problem was.


message 46: by Allison (new) - added it

Allison I read 13 Reasons Why when I was in eighth grade and lord knows that's an awful time for everyone. I admired the book because it was something relevant to my feelings. I wasn't really bullied. No "tragedies" in my life. So in a way I related to Hannah because there's no "reason". However, I just read one of your comments stating that literary suicide ALWAYS has a reason. It must. The characters must have a reason for suicide. And as someone who didn't understand that before reading "How to Read Literature like a Professor" this summer, I can now agree and understand your issues with 13 Reasons Why.

Honestly this is my favorite part about this site. I can comment on your opinion of a book and say no wait this is how it is when realistically I know it's ALLLLL opinions. But as long as neither of us are rude we can talk and share opinions and be happy readers. (My apologies. I'm in a very good mood today and am very talkative right now)


karen hahaha that's okay!! i'm glad you're in a good mood! whitter away! and thank you for not being rude - i'm so tired of getting yelled at all the time on here. it's so unnecessary. it's just books!! (:


message 48: by hana (new) - rated it 5 stars

hana I loved this book actually, some questions for the author 1:At the end, it never clearly states she killed herself,her father asked her if she was ready and she walked into the light, how did she die? 2:: what happened to Santana? Thank you for the amazing story of Daelyn


karen the author is not here. check on her blog.


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