Gavin Atlas's Reviews > Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die

Machine of Death by Ryan North
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's review
Dec 13, 14

bookshelves: e-book, bought-new
Read from June 21 to August 04, 2011

Fascinating concept. The book is a collection of stories set in a world where a machine accurately tells users how they are going to die - but sometimes the prediction is open to interpretation or comes true in unexpected ways. For example, one man's death card said "suicide" which left him greatly relieved since he had zero intention to do himself in, but that doesn't mean that someone else's attempt can't kill him.

In nearly every story, it is the plot that carries the story and not the characterization. After a while, it gets repetitive, and the reader expects a twist instead of being caught by surprise. Still the different authors often had provocative insights into how the world might change if everyone knew their deaths. How will the singles seeking singles scene change? How will medical care be affected? (The most fascinating story involved a group of patients arriving at an emergency room, and the doctors were at a loss at how to treat them as their death cards said "TESTS".) How will high school cliques be affected when kids aren't fated to have cool deaths?

This may not be a book you want to read all the way through, but I definitely recommend reading some of the stories for their imagination and sociological insights.

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